Research Transparency MOOC

Demand is growing for evidence-based policy making, but there is growing recognition in the social science community that limited transparency and openness in research have contributed to widespread problems. With this course, you can explore the causes of limited transparency in social science research, and tools to make your own work more open and reproducible. The course has eight modules that touch on the following topics:

I. Introduction

We begin by discussing the state of transparency practices in social science research today and compare it to how the scientific community generally believes science should be conducted.

II. Publication Bias

What is publication bias and how does it contribute to the file drawer problem? In this module, we’ll introduce you to a couple ways researchers have detected and addressed publication bias and “unlocked” the file drawer problem.

III. Pre-Registration and Pre-Analysis Plans

What are pre-analysis plans and how does pre-registration benefit the scientific community, as well as our own research?

IV. Replication

What are replication and replicability and why are they so important to science and policy?

V. Meta-Analysis

What is meta-analysis and how can it help inform good policy? In this module, Ted Miguel introduces us to meta-analysis, explores why it’s important for informing policy, and goes through a real-world example.

VI. Open Data

Documented high-profile cases of fraud in scientific research go back as far as the 19th century to Gregor Mendel, widely considered the father of modern genetics, and more recently to Sir Cyril Burt, an educational psychologist whose studies of IQ in twins have greatly influenced the continuing debate of nature versus nurture. In this module, Ted Miguel discusses historic and recent cases of scientific fraud, and explores ways to reduce scientific misconduct.

VII. Data Visualization

Social scientists can improve transparency in their research by using good visual representations of their data. This can be especially useful when presenting large datasets or when trying to illustrate patterns that are more easily revealed in visualizations than in tables. Statistician and political scientist Dr. Edward Tufte is well known for his book The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, which Ted Miguel discusses in detail over these five videos.

VIII. Looking Forward

The social science community is experiencing a rapid paradigm shift in regards to research transparency. This module focuses on how new practices are adopted and how scientists can continue to drive positive change.