Opinion, Berkeley Blogs

A giant leap for science

By Temina Madon

This week the scientific community takes a major step forward, with the publication of a set of flexible but ambitious guidelines for the open reporting of research findings.

The guidelines, intended for adoption by academic journals in all disciplines, were developed by the Transparency and Openness Committee (TOP) and published in Science this week:

TOP is a group of research leaders (including several at Berkeley) that seeks to improve integrity and reliability across the sciences. It represents a bottom-up effort by the scientific community to return to our core values of openness, peer review, and the pursuit of truth.

The guidelines already have been endorsed by 111 journals and 34 organizations -- ranging from psychology and political science to cell biology and geophysics.

They also have captured significant media attention, perhaps because of the recent retraction of a highly publicized study by political scientists Don Green and Michael Lacour. The retraction followed an effort by two Berkeley graduate students to replicate and extend the original study's findings.

For many years, Berkeley and the University of California have led the charge toward open science-- from the co-founding of PLoS by Mike Eisen to the "discovery" of the file drawer problem by Robert Rosenthal.

The Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences (BITSS) continues this tradition. BITSS is a network of international scholars formed during a 2012 meeting in Berkeley. The network has played a key role in shaping and disseminating the TOP Committee's guidelines. The Committee's effort was led overall by the Center for Open Science, a non-profit organization launched by Brian Nosek at the University of Virginia.

We encourage you to add your organization or journal to the growing list of those endorsing the TOP guidelines. Learn more at http://cos.io/top