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Monitoring open science: what key practices should we measure?


  • Stakeholders at biomedical research institutions agreed on 19 key open science practices that should be monitored to help institutions track their progress.
  • Selected open science practices include prospective registration and timely reporting of clinical trials, specifying information to be shared, publishing open access, and disclosing author and funder information.

Open science aims to improve the quality and reproducibility of research through increasing transparency and accessibility. Following the 2021 adoption of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Recommendation on Open Science, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and World Health Organization (WHO) have also introduced data sharing policies. ‘Success’ in open science generates effective research outcomes, reduces costs, and improves reputation. However, questions remain on which practices are the most important and how they should be monitored.

A recent publication in PLoS Biology shared results from a 3-round Delphi study asking which open science practices should be monitored at biomedical research institutions globally. 80 participants, including researchers, open science specialists, and librarians, contributed to the study. They reached consensus on 12 traditional and 7 broader transparency practices that should be monitored, including several also assessed in PLOS’ Open Science Indicators initiative.

The key open science practices were related to:

  • registration and timely reporting for clinical trials and systematic reviews
  • information sharing, eg, stating whether data, study materials, or code were shared openly at the time of publication, and the use of clear licences for any shared information
  • use of persistent identifiers, including ORCID identifiers for researchers and digital object identifiers (DOIs) for shared data, study materials, or code
  • use of open access publication (including whether open access is immediate or delayed)
  • disclosure of author contributions, conflicts of interest, and funding.

Dr Kelly D. Cobey and co-authors now plan to develop a fully automated open science dashboard interface, incorporating the agreed core open science practices where these can be measured accurately and reliably. Dr Cobey and co-authors believe the tool will allow institutions to track their progress adopting open science practices and adhering to mandates, and that it will facilitate open science meta-research, without evoking competition or indicating prestige at the institutional level.


What do you think – would institutions benefit from an automated dashboard to monitor open science progress?

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