The Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences awards ten prizes this year to researchers working to forward the values of openness and transparency in research.
BERKELEY, CA (Thursday, December 15, 2016) – Since its inception as an initiative within the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA) in 2012, the Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences (BITSS) has witnessed a remarkable transformation in the research community’s attitudes and practices toward open science. What began as a budding initiative to address the concerns of a relatively small group of researchers has evolved into a rapidly growing grassroots movement of economists, psychologists, political scientists, statisticians, and even engineers whose work spans nearly every continent. Still, there is more work to be done, and those leading this movement are not always rewarded for their efforts.
BITSS has bolstered this community in a variety of ways, funding replications, meta-analyses, and the development of open science tools through the Social Science Meta-Analysis and Research Transparency (SSMART) research program, developing a Manual of Best Practices and Massive Open Online Course on transparency methods, and supporting trainings in institutions across the globe. An exciting complement to these initiatives has been the annual awarding of the Leamer-Rosenthal Prizes for Open Social Science, which recognizes important contributions by individuals in the open science movement. This year, we are honored to announce the ten exceptional educators and researchers joining the ranks of those awarded the prize last year. The review committee selected these recipients from a pool of forty-four nominees from eighteen disciplines and sub-disciplines, and twelve countries.
This year’s recipients in the Leaders in Education category are Dr. Eric-Jan Wagenmakers, Professor of Mathematical Psychology at the University of Amsterdam and widely recognized pioneer in promoting reproducible research; Dr. Lorena Barba, Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at George Washington University and creator of the lauded online course on numerical methods in scientific computing; and Dr. Zacharie Tsala Dimbuene, a researcher at the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) in Kenya. Dr. Tsala Dimbuene led a transparency workshop as a BITSS Catalyst at the University of Kinshasa, and is advancing open science training efforts in francophone Africa.
BITSS is also proud to award prizes in the Emerging Researchers category to seven scholars who are developing innovative methods for transparent research and using open research practices in their own work. These researchers include Dr. Abel Brodeur, Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa, well-known for co-authoring “Star Wars: The Empirics Strike Back,” an analysis of p-value misallocation in economics; Dr. Felix Schönbrodt, a post-doctoral researcher at Ludwig-Maximillians-Universität in Munich and leader in developing transparency and data sharing standards for psychologists; Dr. Elaine Toomey, a post-doctoral researcher at the National University of Ireland Galway focused on implementation fidelity in the health sciences; Dr. Graeme Blair, Assistant Professor of Political Science at UCLA and co-creator of DeclareDesign, a suite of research design evaluation software; and Beth Baribault, a doctoral student in the Cognitive Sciences at UC Irvine whose research represents extraordinary dedication to transparency and replicability.
These winners join Michèle Nuijten of Tilburg University and Dr. Sacha Epskamp of the University of Amsterdam whose development of statcheck has attracted attention from Nature and whose joint-award we announced on December 2.
Although many of those who have developed tools for open science have experienced apathy or even pushback from the wider research community, these prizes offer an opportunity to recognize important advances towards more open science.
“The tallest barrier is our competitive climate of publish-or-perish and funding-dollar counting, together with lack of recognition for open science practices and teaching efforts,” said Dr. Lorena Barba when asked about the biggest challenges to open science.
Though the climb can be unrewarding at times, the movement marches on and there is an inspiring optimism in the way this community speaks about their work.
“The dramatic paradigm shift towards more transparency and more reproducible science will pay tremendous dividends in the near future. It is especially encouraging to see so many young scholars participate in the open science movement,” said Dr. Wagenmakers when asked what excites him most about working in this space.
Educating this next generation will be critical in ensuring that the open science movement maintains its momentum. To this end, BITSS has recently launched the second phase of our Catalyst Program, which aims to train researchers in transparent research practices. Our hope is that such practices become the new scientific norms. This program complements other BITSS initiatives such as the Research Transparency and Reproducibility Trainings (RT2) that will scale up and institutionalize BITSS’ Summer Institutes, as well as the competitively awarded SSMART research grants that fund rigorous studies to improve the quality of research practices in the social sciences.
The 2016 Leamer-Rosenthal Prizes will be formally announced and awarded Thursday afternoon at the 2016 BITSS Annual Meeting. After the awards ceremony, a panel of the winners will discuss their perspectives on the state and future of transparency in social science, as well as their roles in the movement.
The Annual Meeting begins Thursday, December 15 at the David Brower Center in Berkeley, California and continues Friday, December 16. Find a detailed agenda here.
 The 2016 Review Committee includes Colin Camerer (California Institute of Technology), Kevin Esterling (UC Riverside), Elvin Geng (UC San Francisco), Sean Grant (RAND Corporation), Gabriel Lenz (UC Berkeley), Marcia McNutt (National Academy of Sciences), Don Moore (UC Berkeley), Bertil Tungodden (Norwegian School of Economics), Tom Stanley (Hendrix College), and Simine Vazire (UC Davis).