The Movement Toward Open Science
By Melanie B. Fessinger
Have you ever read an article that said something like, “participants completed a 25-item survey,” but the authors never explained what those 25 items were? Or read a study where the authors only analyzed a subsample, but you weren’t exactly sure why? Or read a paper where all of the authors’ hypotheses were supported, despite a lack of theoretical rationale that would have predicted those patterns? Or had an idea about how to reanalyze authors’ data, but could not get ahold of them? These are among many of the issues that open science is attempting to resolve.
Open science is a movement towards accessibility and transparency in the research enterprise. It aims to make science more open and reproducible. It does not describe a single behavior but rather an approach to conducting research.
And it is gaining popularity. In a 2019 report, the Center for Open Science sampled 69 psychology departments and nearly 2,000 faculty and found that 35% had accounts on the Open Science Framework. It was particularly popular among social psychologists and younger faculty.
What are the benefits of open science?
Open science has benefits for researchers, for fields of study, and for the public at large. At an individual level, open science can help researchers gain visibility through higher citation counts and increased media coverage. It can also help factor into funding acquisition, as some granting institutions (including NIH and NSF) recommend or even require open sharing of funded research. At a field level, open science can promote more confidence in published research findings by allowing for carefully planned studies, rigorous peer review, and opportunities for direct replication. On a societal level, some argue that publicly-funded research should be available to the public, which should both increase the spread of scientific knowledge as well as the trust in science as in institution.
How can we participate in open science?
There are several ways to move toward making our science more open. Although open science is an approach rather than a single behavior, there are several steps researchers can take to promoting openness and transparency in the research process. Some popular websites to complete these steps are: AsPredicted (aspredicted.org), Open Science Framework (osf.io), and Nature Scientific Data (nature.com/sdata).
Some journals offer badges for open science practices, which appear on the published article and alert readers to the availability of information. In fact, Law and Human Behavior was the first APA-published journal to offer badges for open materials, open data, and pre-registration!
Where can I learn more about open science?
Open science is a movement that is gaining traction in psychology and science at large. Although open practices may not be possible or advisable for every research project, it is still important to strive for accessibility and transparency when it is. This article provides a brief—but certainly not comprehensive—overview that can hopefully spark readers’ interest in open science. To learn even more about open science practices, the following resources provide a good starting place:
 Nosek, B. (2019). The rise of open science in psychology, a preliminary report. https://cos.io/blog/rise-open-science-psychology-preliminary-report/
 McKiernan et al. (2016). How open science helps researchers succeed.
 Fecher B., Friesike S. (2014) Open Science: One Term, Five Schools of Thought. In: Bartling S., Friesike S. (eds) Opening Science. Springer, Cham.
 Simmons, J.P., Nelson, L.D., & Simonsohn, U. (2011). False-positive psychology: Undisclosed flexibility in data collection and analysis allows presenting anything as significant. Psychological Science, 22(11), 1359-1366.
 Van’t Veer, A.E. & Giner-Sorolla, R. (2016). Pre-registration in social psychology—a discussion and suggested template. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 67, 2-12.
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The American Psychology-Law Society (Division 41 of the American Psychology Association) Student Committee is composed of elected student leaders representing the interests of our student members.