Correlation Between Open Science and Good Scientific Practice

Good scientific practice describes fundamental rules and modes of behaviour that are intended to ensure the integrity of research and therefore trust in the science system. These rules and modes of behaviour are registered with various associations and institutions. For example, they have been succinctly summarised in the Singapore Statement on Research Integrity and translated into 25 languages. The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity contains an overview of good scientific practices. Various international Codes of Conduct and Research Integrity Reports are listed on the website of the Ombuds Committee for Scientific Integrity in Germany. The German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) also publishes and regularly updates its “Proposals for Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice” (PDF).

Open practices such as publishing in Open Access and making research data available as Open Data are playing an increasing role in the implementation. Ultimately, there are very substantial overlaps between good scientific practice and Open Science, and/or Open Science is regarded as the route to leverage the power of digital tools and environments to shape good science practices. In the field of economics, the “credibility revolution” in the context of evidence-based policy and empirical research plays an important role, whereby the transparency and the replicability of research, and thereby openness, are becoming more prominent.

Thereby Open Science can be regarded as a concrete toolbox for increasing the reliability and integrity of research. Digital tools and services that make Open Science possible also uncover publication distortions, poor or sloppy practices and fraud, thereby also serving research ethics, practices and integrity. The aim of creating integrity of research is not to punish genuine mistakes or “flops” but to ensure that the process and the practice of research is as reliable as possible. For exampl, publication distortions occur if researchers do not publish invalid, negative and inconclusive results. Good research practice should therefore require that these kinds of results are passed on, in order to minimise this distortion. Open Science offers various tools to encourage this. A supportive research culture also helps to create an error-tolerant science system that is willing to take risks. Focussing on the joint use of results and an appreciation of sharing in the evaluation of research is of central importance here and shows in turn overlaps with the Open Science movement, which is beneficial here.

In the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity recommendations for a good scientific practice that overlaps with Open Science are: “Researchers publish results and interpretations of research in an open, honest, transparent and accurate manner, and respect confidentiality of data or findings when legitimately required to do so”, “Researchers report their results in a way that is compatible with the standards of the discipline and, where applicable, can be verified and reproduced” and “Researchers, research institutions and organisations ensure access to data is as open as possible, as closed as necessary, and where appropriate in line with the FAIR principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Re-usable) for data management”. And in the Singapore Statement on Research Integrity the following is stated regarding research protocols for example: “Researchers should keep clear, accurate records of all research in ways that will allow verification and replication of their work by others” and on research results: “Researchers should share data and findings openly and promptly, as soon as they have had an opportunity to establish priority and ownership claims”.

In order to achieve integrity of research, all research results should be published according to the acknowledged standards of the respective scientific community. In the field of economics, for example, specialist associations such as the German Economic Association (Verein fĂĽr Socialpolitik / VfS) or the German Academic Association of Business Research (Verband der Hochschullehrer fĂĽr Betriebswirtschaft / VHB) campaign for credibility and transparency, and have passed ethical fundamental rules. For example, the German Economic Association (Verein fĂĽr Socialpolitik / VfS) has made demands such as “research should be transparent and comprehensible” and “In the case of empirical work, the data sets and programs necessary to replicate the results should be made available, within the legal possibilities.”. The VHB has announced (PDF (German)) “a necessary requirement of scientific work is the replicability of the results achieved. The fulfilment of this requirement should be followed and guaranteed long term right from the beginning of every research project. […] And not least, the phase of data collection experiences, through data management, an enhancement that gives it intellectual value in itself. Publishing data(sets) in a “citable” way seems to be valuable and would guarantee efficient reuse of existing datasets.”