Open Science Practices in the Social Sciences: A Progress Report

[Excerpts taken from the article “Open Science Practices are on the Rise: The State of Social Science (3S) Survey” by Christensen et al., posted at MetaArXiv Preprints]
“…how many social scientists are adopting open science practices, and what are the average perceptions of these practices in the social sciences?”
“The present research, based on the State of Social Science (3S) Survey, generates a…robust estimate of the adoption of open science practices over time, and of general support and perceived norms of research transparency across four major social science disciplines: economics, political science, psychology and sociology.”
“We solicited information using a monetarily incentivized survey from a representative sample of active, elite social science researchers…”
“We randomly drew the sample from the complete set of authors who had published within a range of 3 years (2014-2016) in 10 of the most cited journals for each discipline. We also drew from the complete set of PhD Students enrolled in the top 20 North American departments in each discipline during the first half of 2018…”
“Our incentive scheme achieved a completed survey response rate of 46.2%, implying that the study sample is broadly representative of active Published Authors and PhD Students in these four fields. Figure 1 presents the overall response rate of 46.2%, which ranged from 40% in Psychology to 55% in Political Science”.
“Figure 2 presents the cumulative proportion of Published Authors who have adopted open science practices over time.”
“The sharing of data, code and survey instruments show rapid increases starting after 2005, while the use of pre-registration has increased dramatically since 2013. Posting data or code online is the most common practice, followed by posting study instruments online, and then pre-registration…”
“Figure 3 shows that adoption patterns differ across disciplines.”
“How do social scientists perceive their fields today, in terms of support for and adoption of open science practices?”
“Figure 6 depicts scholars’ perceptions of their field…against the actual distribution of opinion and adoption rates as reported by survey respondents in their field.”
“Within each panel, the first bar shows the perceived distribution of support for the practice among Published Authors. This is constructed by asking individuals what percentage of researchers in their field they believe fall into each opinion category…The solid black bar below shows the fraction of researchers in their field they believe have done the practice.”
“The third bar in the panel shows the distribution of support for the practice constructed using the responses elicited from the Published Authors that we sampled. The final solid black bar shows the proportion of researchers who have actually done the stated practices, using the responses elicited from our survey.”
“Two findings are apparent. First, perception of support, in green, is consistently smaller than actual support…Second, perception of opposition toward open science practices is much greater than actual (survey-estimated) opposition…”
“Data from a recent representative survey of scholars in four large social science disciplines – economics, political science, psychology, and sociology – indicates that the adoption of open science practices has been increasing rapidly over the past decade.”
“Behaviors such as posting data and materials that were nearly unknown in some fields as recently as 2005 are now practiced by the majority of scholars. Other newer practices, such as study pre-registration, have experienced a sharp rise in adoption just in recent years, especially among scholars who engage in experimental research.”
“The second main finding of the analysis is that stated support for open science practices is outpacing both their actual adoption and respondents’ beliefs about others’ support…this pattern suggests that social science research communities are in a period of rapid transformation in terms of their research practices, a shift that is not yet entirely appreciated by the community.”
To read the article, click here.



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