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Editor asked to resign from journal after making a stand on data sharing during peer review

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In a drive to improve the quality of scientific research, prevent fraudulent reporting, and to reinforce their core belief that openness and transparency are core tenets of scientific research, a number of scientists, predominantly in the field of psychology, came together to form the Peer Reviewers’ Openness (PRO) initiative. Members of the initiative, who now number in their hundreds, agreed that from 01 January 2017, they would not review, or recommend for publication, any manuscript that did not make the underlying data and materials publicly available or provide clear reasons for not doing so.

Now the first direct confrontation between this stance and the editorial practices of a major body has occurred. Gert Storms, a psychologist at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, has refused a request that he resign from his position as a consulting editor for Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, published by the American Psychological Association (APA) for refusing to review a submitted manuscript that did not meet the PRO initiative criteria. In response, two other editors at the journal have expressed their intention to quit if Storms is forced to resign. The APA currently requests that researchers share their data following publication, although many still fail to do so and the publisher of the APA’s journals has so far declined to comment on this case. In response, Robert Greene, a psychologist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio and Editor of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, has noted that Storms’ stance is contrary to current APA rules and would lead to inconsistency in the treatment of submissions. The issue is currently unresolved, but a discussion considering whether the policies should be changed was due to be considered at a meeting of the journal editorial board in late March. Further detail on this story can be found here.

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Ryan co-runs Aspire Scientific, a dynamic, forward-thinking medical writing agency. Ryan has a passion for innovation, science and ethical communication.

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