A startling lack of reproducibility has been exposed across bodies of literature in psychology, economics, political science, sociology, and the health sciences. This is due partly to a lack of transparency, including selective reporting of results and failures to share underlying analysis plans, data, and code. Academic norms and incentives also encourage researchers to present results in ways that are newsworthy but not necessarily reproducible, leading to both unintended and intended obfuscation — failures to disclose all hypothesis-testing strategies used to generate results, specification searching, and the “file drawer problem” are well-documented across social science disciplines.
At the same time, growing demand for evidence-based policy has created an imperative to increase the rigor, reliability, and transparency of scientific research. The Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences (BITSS) strengthens the integrity of evidence used for policy-making and drives the evolution of scientific norms through research, training, and institutional support.
BITSS improves the practice, publishing, and funding of social science research through the generation and support of rigorous meta-research, educational and training initiatives, and institutional partnership building.
BITSS-led research and our portfolio of 24 Social Science Meta-Analysis and Research Transparency (SSMART) projects have provided evidence on researcher and publisher behaviors, and developed tools and tested mechanisms to facilitate transparency and reproducibility, including various journal replication and data sharing policies. BITSS Preprints, an archive for scholarly works focused on improving research transparency and reproducibility, also improves access to research findings and tools and facilitates open peer review.
In addition to our Research Transparency and Reproducibility Trainings (RT2), we harness our network of Catalysts to scale-up education on research transparency. We’ve also produced a Massive Open Online Course, Manual of Best Practices, and forthcoming textbook.
BITSS also supports a growing network of individuals and institutions to effect change at scale. Our partnerships with organizations such the Inter-American Development Bank, the National Institute of Public Health of Mexico, and the Journal of Development Economics have guided the institutionalization of effective mechanisms for enabling and enforcing transparency and reproducibility.
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