The Peer Reviewers' Openness Initiative is a statement that researchers can sign. That indicates that after a future date—1 January 2017—reviewers will begin to apply certain minimal open research standards to the manuscripts they review.
The Royal Society Science Policy Centre states that “good [scientific] communication is assessable communication, which allows those who follow it not only to understand what is claimed, but also to assess the reasoning and evidence behind the claim”. That means that one of the central values of science is openness.
The authors of the study set out to investigate how openness and transparency show their agreement with open principles to ensure that articles meet minimum scientific quality standards that include open practices (e.g. sharing data, materials and analysis scripts alongside published articles).
Although some progress has been made towards open practices, actual behavior in many scientific fields is far from the ideal of openness by default. The authors of the article suggest a new strategy, i.e. a new initiative promoting open-research requirements for publication, along with a plan for putting these into action.
The Peer Reviewers' Openness Initiative is a statement that researchers can sign. Accordingly, after 1 January 2017 reviewers begin to apply certain minimal open research standards to the manuscripts they review, while engaging authors on issues of scientific openness.
“As with proper scientific attribution, openness is something that reviewers should address”.
The team analyzed author-focused engagement stressing that the reviewer/author relationship is at the heart of the peer-review process. Engagement with the authors should occur as soon as possible, in order to prevent unnecessary delays in the review process.
In case a manuscript presenting work is not sufficiently open it should be treated as incomplete having “the right and responsibility to address open practices”.
The authors can respond in one of two ways to such a request providing links to the data and materials and agreeing to share a link in the published version of the manuscript. Moreover, the authors can respond with a justification for this lack of openness.
“Knowing why authors choose not to be open would be tremendously useful to the scientific community at large”.
Five minimal open research standards or key requirements of open articles
Starting 1 January 2017, once a manuscript has been certified by the authors to meet these five key requirements, reviewers will proceed with a more comprehensive review of the manuscript.
First, “Data should be made publicly available”.
Second, “Stimuli and materials should be made publicly available”.
Third, “In case some data or materials are not open, clear reasons (e.g. legal, ethical constraints, or severe impracticality) should be given”.
Forth, “Documents containing details for interpreting any files or code, and how to compile and run any software programs should be made available”.
Fifth, “The location of all of these files should be advertised in the manuscript”.
As a result, “Authors will obviously have the incentive to meet the requirements of the Initiative, because it will allow them to be published more quickly”.
According to authors, the Peer Reviewers' Openness Initiative provides the best possible chance for open research practices to become commonplace in the scientific literature.
Do you agree in principle with the goals of the Initiative, and wish that both your work, and the culture of science at large, were more open?
What would you suggest for training authors in open practices?
What is still undervalued?
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Richard D. Morey, Christopher D. Chambers, Peter J. Etchells, Christine R. Harris, Rink Hoekstra, Daniël Lakens, Stephan Lewandowsky, Candice Coker Morey, Daniel P. Newman, Felix D. Schönbrodt, Wolf Vanpaemel, Eric-Jan Wagenmakers, Rolf A. Zwaan