Most of you probably noticed that 2015 marked a turning point for BITSS. It was the year we launched our Social Science Meta-Analysis and Research Transparency (SSMART) Grant Program, the Leamer-Rosenthal Prizes for Open Social Science, and our new website.
It was also the year we started focusing on two main objectives to meet our goal of strengthening the quality of research and evidence used for policy-making and decision-making. Those objectives are: (i) increase access to tools and resources for research transparency and reproducibility, and (ii) harness the BITSS network of academic leaders and practitioners to advocate transparency, deliver training, and change research practices at scale.
Focusing on these objectives is what helped inform the launch of our Catalyst program – now with 45 Catalysts in 17 countries expected to reach 1,500 learners by 2018 – as well as the cultivation of our Resources page and the development and delivery of our BITSS Preprints service.
But, we knew we weren’t going to be able to really scale our efforts without a stronger web-based training platform – we can only be so many places at once! This led to the development of our newest resource, which launches TODAY!
Transparent and Open Social Science Research
BITSS is pleased to announce our own (two years in the making!) Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) – Transparent and Open Social Science Research. Offered through FutureLearn, this course will provide an overview of best practices and tools related to research transparency and reproducibility on an interactive platform to maximize learning and engagement.
What are we so excited about? Let us count the ways:
- It’s free and accessible! We worked to ensure this course would be free and open to interested learners around the world, meaning that it would meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 developed by the World Wide Web Consortium and comply with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Section 508 Accessibility Standards.
- It’s designed for a broad audience! The target audience includes graduate students, professional researchers, program evaluators, and policy-makers (especially research sponsors) working across the social sciences.
- It’s delivered by Ted Miguel! BITSS Scientific Director, Ted Miguel, developed this course at UC Berkeley and it certainly benefits from his enthusiasm, expertise, and experience in making research more transparent and reproducible.
- It’s modular! The course consists of eight learning units of the following: (i) Introduction (5 videos), (ii) Publication Bias (9 videos), (iiii) Pre-registration and Pre-Analysis Plans (3 videos), (vi) Replication (4 videos), (v) Meta-Analysis (4 videos), (vi) Open Data (6 videos), (vii) Data Visualization (5 videos), and (viii) Looking Forward (3 videos). We were fortunate to receive great feedback from partner organizations and UC Berkeley students to inform improvements to the online videos.
- It’s action packed! We aren’t just looking for passive learners. All learners will complete problem sets and quizzes, contribute to online discussions, and create outputs from the course, such as establishing an OSF account and encouraging the use of study registries, such as the AEA RCT Registry.
- It’s in English… but we also have materials in French! Keeping in line with our goals to scale up efforts GLOBALLY, in addition to the MOOC on FutureLearn, the English and French course videos are available in the new BITSS Video Library. Professors and educators around the world are welcome to link to specific videos and resources for use in their own curriculum.
- It has a feedback loop! We will survey learners before and after the course with to continue to inform our monitoring efforts. We want to know – does the learning from our trainings, and this MOOC in particular, result in improved research practices? What can be improved in the curriculum to better facilitate in uptake? We’re always looking to learn – and direct feedback is welcome!
We are excited to partner with FutureLearn for a number of reasons. First, FutureLearn uses social learning strategies to encourage learners to engage more deeply with course content and with each other. We believe this pedagogical framework has driven their higher than average completion rates. The FutureLearn interface is also visually attractive and easy to navigate on a personal computer, tablet, or smartphone, and the platform uses WCAG 2.0 as the basis for its accessibility standards. Finally, as a UK-based company owned by the Open University, FutureLearn offers the opportunity to reach a wide and diverse audience and connect with our growing network in Europe.
The first course run will begin on Monday, July 10, 2017. The 3-week course is self-paced and enrolled learners will be expected to spend around 5 hours per week on videos, readings, problem sets, quizzes, and discussions.
We’re aiming for 400 graduates of the MOOC by 2018 – help us meet that goal – enroll today and share widely!