Scientific transparency

Champion sponsor of the Annual Meeting

Reported by Sarah Sabir


  • Richard W Davis IV, Associate Editor, Molecular Cancer Therapeutics
  • David Mellor, Director of Policy Initiatives, Center for Open Science Leslie McIntosh
  • Leslie McIntosh, CEO, Ripeta; Executive Director at the Research Data Alliance

Transparency, through the complete reporting of data, code, and software, is the first step towards reproducibility, stated Leslie in this informative session on how to improve scientific reporting.

It is shocking to think that out of 191 experiments from 51 cancer biology studies evaluated by the Center of Open Science, not a single complete protocol could be reproduced based on written reports and without going back to the study investigators. Yet, the realities of incomplete reporting (among other questionable research practices) were revealed in this session.

However, several strategies have been implemented to help change research culture for the better.

David explained that we need to develop the necessary infrastructure to enable researchers to use transparent and reproducible practices. These practices should also be made easy

and be integrated such that they are the norm in scientific communities.

Development of a data repository, platforms for collaborations, and repositories were suggested ways to achieve this.

Incentives for researchers have also been proven to improve reproducibility. For example, registered reports decrease the temptation for researchers to omit nonsignificant studies. They instead encourage a community to develop a complete picture of a research area. 

The last way to improve the reproducibility of research is for journals to incorporate transparent and open standards into their policies. The transparency and openness promotion (TOP) guidelines, which rank journal policies according to their level of open practices, have resulted in widespread adoption across journals. But there is still more work to do.

About the author

Name: Sarah Sabir
Job role: Medical Writer, Oxford
Time at Oxford PharmaGenesis: 2 years
What am I most looking forward to at ISMPP? Hearing about why and how to individualize and tailor communications to reach our audiences, and joining discussions at the ORCID roundtable co-moderated by Paul Farrow