Is openness the answer? A seminar at UBVU

An enthusiastic crowd of PhD’s attended the seminar ‘Publishing and Integrity’ on Tuesday 24 May 2016 at the Library of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (UBVU). The scope of the meeting was the question “Is openness the answer?”.

After a sketch of the topic by chairman Prof. Dr. Gjalt de Graaf, three speakers with a strong opinion about the subject gave their lecture: Dr. Marjan Bakker, Dr. Jelte Wicherts and Prof. dr. Jacintha Ellers.

The first speaker, Dr. Marjan Bakker, built her talk around the replication crisis in psychology. She showed examples of p-hacking and discussed the surprising fraction of confirmed hypotheses. This is not only a problem in psychology attest examples of failure to replicate studies in other fields. She pleads for preregistration of hypothesis, study-design and analysis plan to minimize the researcher’s degrees of freedom.

Dr. Jelte Wicherts started his talk about the peer review process by listing different types of reviews: from excellent via sloppy, impolite, nepotistic and faked to no review at all. A popular solution among researchers is to reduce transparency by making the process double blind. Jelte’s research shows that transparency improves the quality of the review. His lecture was followed by an interesting debate on the question if reviewers would be more or less honest when their name is shown.

Prof. dr. Jacintha Ellers talked about the open access publication process. She showed the vast profits publishers make and the exponential increase in open access publications. Furthermore, she gave an insight on how mega-journals like PlosOne and Scientific Reports (and, due to overrepresentation in these journals, the developing world) financially support flagship-journals of the same publisher. She argues for stringent scientific and fair criteria for open access publishing.

In answer to the question “Is openness the answer” chairman Gjalt de Graaf concludes that openness might not be the answer but is at least very important.

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Dutch National website providing information for academics about the advantages of open access to publicly financed research

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