I believe that openness and transparency are core values of science. For a long time, technological obstacles existed preventing transparency from being the norm. With the advent of the internet, however, these obstacles have largely disappeared. The promise of open research can finally be realised, but this will require a cultural change in science. The power to create that change lies in the peer-review process.
Yesterday I signed the PRO Initiative — the Peer Reviewers’ Openness Initiative for Open Science — which recognises the centrality of the peer reviewer relationship and the duty of reviewers to address the inadequacy of data and materials reporting in manuscripts; it protects the autonomy of authors by allowing them to give a reason why the data cannot be shared; and, it respects future readers’ right to access the data, or to assess the reason given in the manuscript why data are not shared.
In essence: from 1 January 2017, reviewers should make open practices a pre-condition for more comprehensive review.
Openness and transparency are core values of science. As a manifestation of those values, a minimum requirement for publication of any scientific results must be the public submission of materials used in generating those results. As reviewers, it is our responsibility to ensure that publications meet certain minimum quality standards.
We therefore agree that as reviewers, starting 1 January 2017, we will not offer comprehensive review for, nor recommend the publication of, any manuscript that does not meet the following minimum requirements. Once such a manuscript has been certified by the authors to meet these minimum requirements, we will proceed with a more comprehensive review of the manuscript. [read the guidelines for reviewers]
- Data should be made publicly available. All data needed for evaluation and reproduction of the published research should be made publicly available, online, hosted by a reliable third party. [I’m an author; help me comply!]
- Stimuli and materials should be made publicly available. Stimulus materials, experimental instructions and programs, survey questions, and other similar materials should be made publicly available, hosted by a reliable third party. [I’m an author; help me comply!]
- In case some data or materials are not open, clear reasons (e.g., legal, ethical constraints, or severe impracticality) should be given why. These reasons should be outlined in the manuscript. [I’m an author; help me comply!]
- Documents containing details for interpreting any files or code, and how to compile and run any software programs should be made available with the above items. In addition, licensing or other restrictions on their use should be made clear. [I’m an author; help me comply!]
- The location of all of these files should be advertised in the manuscript, and all files should be hosted by a reliable third party. The choice of online file hosting should be made to maximize the probability that the files will be accessible for many years, and to minimize the probability that they will be lost for trivial reasons (e.g., accidental deletions, moving files). [I’m an author; help me comply!]
Authors of submitted articles wishing to signal to reviewers and readers their adherence should add a statement to the author note specifying the data and materials that are open and where they can be found, or their justification for not sharing some of their data and materials.