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Scientists call for more open research practices through peer review

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The Peer-Reviewers Openness Initiative (PRO) aims to create the expectation of open practices as a matter of scientific principle

Press release issued: 14 January 2016

Peer reviewers should provide complete reviews only for scientific papers that share data and materials, or where the authors explain why sharing is impossible, an international group of scientists, including Professor Stephan Lewandowsky of the University of Bristol, argue in a paper published today in Royal Society Open Science.

Science should be an open and transparent process, but in reality it falls short of this ideal.  Data and materials are sometimes unavailable to other scientists or the public, hindering replication and verification.

The Peer-Reviewers Openness Initiative (PRO), outlined in the paper, provides a specific, concrete mechanism – reviewers withholding comprehensive review – to achieve the goal of creating the expectation of open practices as a matter of scientific principle.  The initiative is led by Dr Richard Morey of Cardiff University.

Under the initiative, scientists acting as reviewers will pledge that, from 1 January 2017, they will not offer comprehensive review for, nor recommend the publication of, any manuscript that does not meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Data are made publicly available.
  • Stimuli and materials are made publicly available.
  • Clear reasons (for example legal, ethical constraints, or severe impracticality) should be given if some data or materials are not open
  • Documents containing details for interpreting any files or code, and how to compile and run any software programs are made available
  • The location of all of these files is advertised in the manuscript.

“The Peer Reviewers’ Openness Initiative provides the best possible chance for open research practices to become commonplace in the scientific literature.  Now is the time for all of the sciences to be open,” the authors said.

PRO is another step in a fast-growing reform movement for greater openness and transparency in all branches of science.

“We hope that researchers who value open research practices – even those who have not yet put them into action – will join us in signing the Initiative and help promote open research.  We must let current and future researchers know that openness is not just a value we talk about, but one we make manifest,” the authors added.


‘The peer reviewers’ openness initiative: incentivizing open research practices through peer review’ by Richard D. Morey, Christopher D. Chambers, Peter J. Etchells, Christine R. Harris, Rink Hoekstra, Daniel Lakens, Stephan Lewandowsky, Candice Coker Morey, Daniel P. Newman, Felix Schonbrodt, Wolf Vanpaemel, Eric-JanWagenmakers and Rolf A. Zwaan in Royal Society Open Science

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