Announcing the Leamer-Rosenthal Prizes for Open Social Science

New prizes will recognize and reward transparency in social science research.

BERKELEY, CA (May 13, 2015) – Transparent research is integral to the validity of science. Openness is especially important in such social science disciplines as economics, political science and psychology, because this research shapes policy and influences clinical practices that affect millions of lives. To encourage openness in research and the teaching of best practices, the Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences (BITSS) has established The Leamer-Rosenthal Prizes for Open Social Science. BITSS is an initiative of the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA) at the University of California, Berkeley. The prizes, which provide recognition, visibility and cash awards to both the next generation of researchers and senior faculty, are generously supported by the John Templeton Foundation.

The competition is open to scholars and educators worldwide.

“In academia, career advances and research funding are usually awarded on the basis of how many journal articles a scientist publishes. This incentive structure can encourage researchers to dramatize their findings in ways that increase the probability of publication, sometimes even at the expense of transparency and integrity,” said Edward Miguel, PhD, Professor of Economics at UC Berkeley and Faculty Director of CEGA. “The Leamer-Rosenthal Prizes will help speed the adoption of transparent practices by recognizing and rewarding researchers and educators whose work and teaching exemplify the best in open social science.”

The competition consists of two categories. The Emerging Leaders in Open Social Science Research Prize will award cash prizes of up to $15,000 to early-career researchers who adopt transparent research practices or pioneer new methods to increase the rigor of research. The Leaders in Open Social Science Education Prize will award the work of faculty leaders who teach best practices in social science research with prizes of up to $10,000. Winners will receive their awards, and have the opportunity to present their research, at the BITSS Annual Meeting in December 2015 at UC Berkeley.

“With the media focusing attention on lapses in ethical conduct and failures in reproducibility, the establishment of scientific prizes to celebrate those who demonstrate the highest standards of openness, transparency, and integrity is most welcome,” said Rush Holt, Chief Executive Officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). “Here at AAAS, we have always been dedicated to high standards for reproducibility in research to maintain the credibility of the science we publish and to uphold the principles of good science.”

The prizes are named for economist Dr. Edward E. Leamer (UCLA) and psychologist Dr. Robert Rosenthal (UC Riverside) – academic pioneers who laid the foundation for open social science.

“It is so important that the new generation of researchers be rewarded for conducting open research,” said Dr. Rosenthal.  “There are so many influences working against transparency in academia, but happily there is an emerging movement toward openness.  It is my hope that these prizes will help build momentum toward the adoption of transparent practices.”

In the last decade, demand for evidence to inform the design of public policy has increased. While this demand has driven investment in data-intensive social science research, the incentives, norms, and institutions that govern economics, political science, and related disciplines don’t always promote openness and integrity. This leads to a biased and incomplete record of research – which can create significant problems, because this research evidence is used to support policies that can affect millions of people.

“Nowhere is the need for research transparency greater than in developing countries where every research dollar must count,” says Makhtar Diop, the World Bank’s Vice President for the Africa Region. “That is why it is so important to encourage and recognize open social science research.”

Leamer-Rosenthal Prize entries will be reviewed by a distinguished panel of leading scholars.  The deadline to enter is September 13, 2015, and winners will be notified by October 13, 2015.

Click here for more information on how to enter The Leamer-Rosenthal Prizes for Open Social Science.


About the Center for Effective Global Action

BITSS is a program of the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA). CEGA designs and tests solutions for the problems of poverty, generating actionable evidence for policy-makers in less developed countries. Using rigorous field trials, behavioral experiments, and tools from data science, we measure and maximize the impacts of economic development programs throughout the world. Find out more at or follow us on Twitter at @CEGA_UC. Follow BITSS at @UCBITSS.

Press Release (pdf version)


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