Announcing the 2024 Catalyst Grants for Advancing Transparent, Reproducible, and Ethical Research winners!

The Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences (BITSS) is excited to announce the recipients of our 2024 round of competitively selected Catalyst grants. From January–June 2024, 8 Catalysts will carry out projects across 8 countries, ranging from holding research transparency trainings, translating materials into different languages and with added cultural competence, to developing new statistical programming software code to facilitate reproducibility.

The BITSS Catalyst Program formalizes a network of professionals to advance the teaching, practice, funding, and publishing of transparent and reproducible social science research. It connects and empowers individuals to create change in their own classrooms, universities, and networks, mobilizing far-reaching change to transform scientific norms to ultimately make social science research more reproducible and reliable. Since the program’s inception in 2015, the BITSS Catalyst network has grown to include over 160 researchers across 6 continents!

With generous funding from organizations such as the National Institutes of Health, the Templeton World Charity Foundation, and the Einstein Foundation, BITSS is excited to re-launch the Catalyst Program with funding for the next 5 years. While the 2024 Catalyst Grant competition was limited to existing Catalysts or previous attendees of our flagship Research Transparency and Reproducibility Training (RT2), subsequent competitions will be open to the public. In re-engaging with Catalysts and bringing new scholars into our network, we’ve updated our Program Overview, which includes information on how to become a Catalyst and what to expect.

As the Catalysts complete their projects, we’ll share more updates about individual Catalyst activities! Until then, get to know each Catalyst project:

Transparent piloting: Understanding researcher practices and attitudes towards reporting pilot studies in psychology
Catalysts: Isaac Handley-Miner (Boston College)
Project Location: The project will be developed and delivered remotely given the international nature of the team and project.

Piloting—the practice of conducting preliminary studies or trial runs to refine research designs, procedures, or instruments—is common in psychology. Yet, pilot studies are rarely reported in the literature. Publishing methods and results from pilot studies alongside the full studies these pilots precede could have many benefits, including: (1) what was learned during piloting could help other researchers better replicate, extend, and repurpose study designs; (2) pilot results could shed light on the generalizability of the full study’s findings (e.g., reveal boundary conditions); (3) the field could better assess common piloting practices and identify areas of improvement. This project will survey researchers about their piloting practices, attitudes towards reporting pilots, and perceived barriers to reporting pilots. This survey data will inform three downstream projects: a meta-assessment of current piloting reporting practices, a tool to facilitate the reporting of pilot studies, and a perspectives article discussing the merits of reporting pilot studies.

Haciendo Ciencia Abierta: Buenas prácticas para investigación transparente y reproducible. (“Doing Open Science: Best Practices for Transparent and Reproducible Research”)
Catalysts: Ignacio Sarmiento-Barbieri (University of Los Andes)
Project Locations: University of los Andes, Colombia and virtual

Social science should be broadly accessible for critical interpretation and contribution, fostering open societies. Building on the success of the first “Haciendo Ciencia Abierta” workshop, this project will continue to strengthen research practices within the Spanish-speaking community. This edition will offer a comprehensive 6-session program, each lasting 2 hours, conducted remotely via the University of Los Andes in Bogotá. The workshop will delve into three main areas: ethics and transparency in research design, focusing on pre-analysis plans; reproducibility and reproducible workflows, emphasizing version control with GitHub and effective presentation of research findings using RMarkdown; and secure data management, highlighting ethical data collection and long-term archiving using OSF and Zenodo. 

Promoting Research Ethics through Research Transparency Techniques
Catalysts: Mercyline Kamande (Mount Kenya University)
Project Location: Mount Kenya University, Kenya

Research transparency is an approach that promotes open practices including registering studies, sharing study data, and publicly reporting research findings. By pre-registering research methodology and intended analyses, researchers tend to be more accountable by ensuring that they report the actual findings of the research, which in turn increases research credibility. By openly sharing data, it is possible to replicate studies, which allows the extension of research work.

This project builds on a previous project in 2018 whose objective was to share knowledge of research transparency techniques and their role in addressing the file drawer problem and publication bias. The project was implemented in a series of four workshops in two leading universities in Rwanda. The current study seeks to extend this study to Mount Kenya University in Kenya and incorporate the research transparency and ethics into an existing staff development program currently being rolled out at the university.

Research Transparency Overview and Guidelines (in Arabic)
Catalyst: Heba Abou-El-Sood (Cairo University, United Arab Emirates University)
Project Locations: Cairo University, Egypt; and United Arab Emirates University, United Arab Emirates

One of the fundamental challenges towards transparency and reproducibility of research in the MENA region is a cultural barrier. Information regarding data input for research and outcomes (not yet publishable) have been always viewed in the lenses of secrecy, confidentiality, and competitive advantage. The research community in the MENA region needs to have content in their own language (Arabic), to be culturally embedded, and not superficially imposed or borrowed from other cultural backgrounds. This project aims to achieve this end goal by providing culturally adapted concepts, guidelines, and translation of material to appeal to the research community and facilitate/motivate adoption and execution.

REPKIT: Automated reproducibility tools for Stata (REPRUN)
Catalyst: Benjamin Daniels (Georgetown University)
Project Location: World Bank Development Impact Evaluations Department

This project will expand the existing (open beta) IEDOREP Stata command to automate checking for reproducibility issues in do-files, with the goal of inclusion in the new REPKIT Stata package to be published by DIME (World Bank) and presented at the 2024 Stata Conference. Building on the World Bank’s new program requiring reproducibility packages for its Policy Research Working Paper series, IEDOREP helps integrate automated reproducibility checks into routine workflows. This project will enhance IEDOREP’s capabilities for complex code, produce expanded debugging options, and develop publication and dissemination for the tool. Deliverables include an enhanced reproducibility tools package, documentation, and educational materials to promote adoption. By translating lessons learned from manual reproducibility checking into a widely accessible automated tool, this project will advance capacity for reproducible research across the social sciences.

Reproducible Data Analysis in the Social Sciences: Training of Trainers and Workshop Series
Catalyst: Anne-Katherin Kleine (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)
Project Location: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany

This project aims to bridge the gap between the demand for research adhering to reproducibility criteria and the availability of quality training. The project employs a Training of Trainers (ToT) approach to foster engagement. Specifically, experienced Master Trainers coach Junior Trainers in the principles of reproducible data analysis. Over the course of two months, Junior and Master Trainers collaborate to develop a workshop series covering data analysis with R and Quarto, version control with Git and GitHub, and the publication of reproduction packages. The workshop is designed to address the needs of master students, PhD Candidates, and post-docs within the social sciences. The materials developed will be publicly shared to promote widespread and ongoing access. This initiative is set to boost the growth of the open science community and empower dedicated individuals to actively promote reproducibility in the social sciences.

Advancing Transparent, Reproducible, and Ethical Research in Burkina Faso
Catalyst: Idissa Ouedraogo (Thomas Sankara University)
Project Locations: Norbert Zongo University, Burkina Faso

This training aims to equip scholars in Burkina Faso with the appropriate tools used to conduct transparent, reproducible, and open and ethical research. We will train masters students, Ph.D. candidates, postdocs, junior faculty, and researchers in economics, political science, and public policy in methods for open science. The training will be held at the Nobert Zongo University and the Laboratory of Analysis and Applied Economics (LABEA) in Koudougou, Burkina Faso. Topics will include theory of transparency, reproducibility, open science research, pre-registration and pre-analysis, data and code sharing, data de-identification, data mining, fishing, p-hacking, selective reporting outcomes and multiple inference correction, replication and dynamic documents and reproducible workflows. We will tailor and promote the materials and tools used since the RT2 2017 trainings and other resources developed by BITSS, including the MOOC, “Transparent and Open Social Science Research.”

Data Management and Sharing, and Open Evaluation Workshop
Catalyst: Emmanuel Orkoh (The Nordic Africa Institute, Sweden)
Locations: Ghana Communication Technology University and University of Cape Coast, Ghana

In recent years, there has been a growing concern about a significant proportion (between 51% and 89%) of published research that are non-reproducible, largely due to lack of rigor in data management and analysis. This phenomenon contributes to losses of millions of funds invested in research. As a result, funding agencies and journals are increasingly requiring researchers to share, archive, and plan for the management of their data to foster the validation of published analyses and results of research studies. As research and information professionals respond to these new requirements, data curation knowledge is necessary for the effective management, long-term preservation, and reuse of data. This course will provide participants with knowledge of data management, best practices throughout the research life cycle from the planning stage to when data will be shared and made available within a trustworthy repository. This will increase researchers’ impact and support for open scientific inquiry.

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