Science Develops New Data- and Materials-Sharing Requirements

This is an illustration of a compass.In June 2015, a committee sponsored by the Center for Open Science developed a set of guidelines offering “a concrete and actionable strategy toward improving research and publishing practices” named the Transparency and Openness Promotion (TOP) guidelines. Now, scientific publishers are putting these guidelines into action: The journal Science has announced that it has used these guidelines to revise its standards for articles that it publishes.

The TOP guidelines invite journal editors to consider transparency and openness as they pertain to eight different parts of the research process. After careful consideration of these guidelines, Science now requires that data, program code, and materials must be available to other researchers. These resources must all be cited using persistent identifiers, such as citations or DOIs. Authors are also required to “follow relevant standards for their field for reporting key aspects of research design and analysis.”

The new guidelines will go into effect January 1, 2017.

Marcia McNutt, Editor-in-Chief of Science and President-Elect of the National Academy of Sciences, believes that implementation of these standards will lead to better science.

“The benefits of implementing TOP extend well beyond the original goal of facilitating the replicability of published research. TOP creates a framework for sharing not just the findings of a study, but also the data, samples, code, and methods, which in many cases can outlive the findings in making durable contributions to science,” she said in an editorial announcing the journal’s revised standards.

APS was one of the original signatories to the TOP guidelines, which have now been supported by 538 journals and 58 organizations. APS members also participated in the committee that devised the guidelines, including: APS Fellow Brian Nosek, Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Center for Open Science; APS Fellow and former Psychological Science Editor Eric Eich; and APS Executive Director Emeritus Alan Kraut, now Executive Director of the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS).

APS also encourages sharing of data and materials — authors who publish in Psychological Science and make these materials available are awarded with Open Practice badges. These badges have been shown recently to improve open scientific practices.

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