Open and transparent research practices and public perceptions of the trustworthiness of agricultural biotechnology organizations

Authors : Asheley R. Landrum, Joseph Hilgard, Robert B. Lull, Heather Akin, Kathleen Hall Jamieson

Public trust in agricultural biotechnology organizations that produce so-called ‘genetically-modified organisms’ (GMOs) is affected by misinformed attacks on GM technology and worry that producers’ concern for profits overrides concern for the public good.

In an experiment, we found that reporting that the industry engages in open and transparent research practices increased the perceived trustworthiness of university and corporate organizations involved with GMOs.

Universities were considered more trustworthy than corporations overall, supporting prior findings in other technology domains.

The results suggest that commitment to, and communication of, open and transparent research practices should be part of the process of implementing agricultural biotechnologies.

URL : Open and transparent research practices and public perceptions of the trustworthiness of agricultural biotechnology organizations


Research Transparency: A Preliminary Study of Disciplinary Conceptualisation, Drivers, Tools and Support Services

Authors : Liz Lyon, Wei Jeng, Eleanor Mattern

This paper describes a preliminary study of research transparency, which draws on the findings from four focus group sessions with faculty in chemistry, law, urban and social studies, and civil and environmental engineering.

The multi-faceted nature of transparency is highlighted by the broad ways in which the faculty conceptualised the concept (data sharing, ethics, replicability) and the vocabulary they used with common core terms identified (data, methods, full disclosure).

The associated concepts of reproducibility and trust are noted. The research lifecycle stages are used as a foundation to identify the action verbs and software tools associated with transparency.

A range of transparency drivers and motivations are listed. The role of libraries and data scientists is discussed in the context of the provision of transparency services for researchers.

URL : Research Transparency: A Preliminary Study of Disciplinary Conceptualisation, Drivers, Tools and Support Services


Transparency: the emerging third dimension of Open Science and Open Data

This paper presents an exploration of the concept of research transparency. The policy context is described and situated within the broader arena of open science. This is followed by commentary on transparency within the research process, which includes a brief overview of the related concept of reproducibility and the associated elements of research integrity, fraud and retractions.

A two-dimensional model or continuum of open science is considered and the paper builds on this foundation by presenting a three-dimensional model, which includes the additional axis of ‘transparency’. The concept is further unpacked and preliminary definitions of key terms are introduced: transparency, transparency action, transparency agent and transparency tool.

An important linkage is made to the research lifecycle as a setting for potential transparency interventions by libraries. Four areas are highlighted as foci for enhanced engagement with transparency goals: Leadership and Policy, Advocacy and Training, Research Infrastructures and Workforce Development.


Multi-Stage Open Peer Review: Scientific Evaluation Integrating the Strengths of Traditional Peer Review with the Virtues of Transparency and Self-Regulation

The traditional forms of scientific publishing and peer review do not live up to all demands of efficient communication and quality assurance in today’s highly diverse and rapidly evolving world of science.

They need to be advanced and complemented by interactive and transparent forms of review, publication, and discussion that are open to the scientific community and to the public.

The advantages of open access, public peer review, and interactive discussion can be efficiently and flexibly combined with the strengths of traditional scientific peer review. Since 2001 the benefits and viability of this approach are clearly demonstrated by the highly successful interactive open access journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP, and a growing number of sister journals launched and operated by the European Geosciences Union (EGU, and the open access publisher Copernicus (

The interactive open access journals are practicing an integrative multi-stage process of publication and peer review combined with interactive public discussion, which effectively resolves the dilemma between rapid scientific exchange and thorough quality assurance.

Key features and achievements of this approach are: top quality and impact, efficient self-regulation and low rejection rates, high attractivity and rapid growth, low costs, and financial sustainability.

In fact, ACP and the EGU interactive open access sister journals are by most if not all standards more successful than comparable scientific journals with traditional or alternative forms of peer review (editorial statistics, publication statistics, citation statistics, economic costs, and sustainability).

The high efficiency and predictive validity of multi-stage open peer review have been confirmed in a series of dedicated studies by evaluation experts from the social sciences, and the same or similar concepts have recently also been adopted in other disciplines, including the life sciences and economics.

Multi-stage open peer review can be flexibly adjusted to the needs and peculiarities of different scientific communities. Due to the flexibility and compatibility with traditional structures of scientific publishing and peer review, the multi-stage open peer review concept enables efficient evolution in scientific communication and quality assurance.

It has the potential for swift replacement of hidden peer review as the standard of scientific quality assurance, and it provides a basis for open evaluation in science. »


The New Ambiguity of ‘Open Government’

“Open government” used to carry a hard political edge: it referred to politically sensitive disclosures of government information. The phrase was first used in the 1950s, in the debates leading up to passage of the Freedom of Information Act. But over the last few years, that traditional meaning has blurred, and has shifted toward technology.

Open technologies involve sharing data over the Internet, and all kinds of governments can use them, for all kinds of reasons. Recent public policies have stretched the label “open government” to reach any public sector use of these technologies.

Thus, “open government data” might refer to data that makes the government as a whole more open (that is, more transparent), but might equally well refer to politically neutral public sector disclosures that are easy to reuse, but that may have nothing to do with public accountability.

Today a regime can call itself “open” if it builds the right kind of web site — even if it does not become more accountable or transparent. This shift in vocabulary makes it harder for policymakers and activists to articulate clear priorities and make cogent demands.

This essay proposes a more useful way for participants on all sides to frame the debate: We separate the politics of open government from the technologies of open data. Technology can make public information more adaptable, empowering third parties to contribute in exciting new ways across many aspects of civic life.

But technological enhancements will not resolve debates about the best priorities for civic life, and enhancements to government services are no substitute for public accountability. »