A new journal metric is being introduced that will rank academic journals based on their commitment to research transparency and reproducibility, rather than traditionally used citation counts. The TOP Factor, launched by the Center for Open Science, will assess journal policies according to their compliance with the eight standards of the Transparency and Openness Promotion (TOP) Guidelines, for which there are three increasing levels of stringency.
The eight standards of the TOP Guidelines are designed to reflect behaviours that can improve transparency and reproducibility of research, covering the following elements:
- transparency of data, materials, code, and research design
The new metric rewards journals that publish articles that adhere to these core scientific values. As noted by Simine Vazire, Professor of Psychology at UC Davis and Editor-in-Chief at the psychology journal Collabra:
“Transparency is not the same thing as quality, but it is a necessary precondition for evaluating quality”
In addition to the eight TOP Guideline indicators, journals will also be assessed on whether they offer Registered Reports, which aim to reduce publication bias against negative findings by allowing study design peer review before data are analysed, and Open Science Badges that mark the availability of shared data, materials and preregistered study designs.
So far, over 250 journals publishing in the fields of psychology, economics, education and general science have been evaluated and are presented on the TOP Factor website. One of the key differentiators of the TOP Factor from journal impact factor is that the former provides a searchable, modular set of indicators of journal policies promoting good research practices, rather than a single number. Another distinguishing feature is that, in principle, all journals could achieve the top score, with TOP Factor envisaged as a rating system rather than a way of ranking journals. Indeed, the goal is that releasing journal TOP factors will encourage journals to improve their open science policies.