New Prize Awards Attempts at a More Open Social Science


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Robert Rosenthal, left, and Edward Leamer
In the last decade, the demand for evidence to inform the public policy has increased. While this demand has driven investment in data-intensive research, there are still a number of incentives, norms, and institutions that undermine the openness and integrity of social science research. This leads to a biased and incomplete record of research – which can create significant problems, because scientific evidence is used to support policies that can affect millions of people.

Transparent research practices are integral to the validity of science. To encourage best practices, the Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences (BITSS) has established The Leamer-Rosenthal Prizes for Open Social Science. BITSS is an initiative of the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA) at the University of California, Berkeley. The prizes, which provide recognition, visibility and cash awards to both the next generation of researchers and senior faculty, are generously supported by the John Templeton Foundation.

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This article by Temina Madon originally appeared on the LSE Impact of Social Sciences blog as “Incentives for open science: New prizes to encourage research integrity and transparency in social science” and is reposted under the Creative Commons license (CC BY 3.0).
“In academia, career advances and research funding are usually awarded on the basis of how many journal articles a scientist publishes. This incentive structure can encourage researchers to dramatize their findings in ways that increase the probability of publication, sometimes even at the expense of transparency and integrity,” according to Edward Miguel, professor of economics at UC Berkeley and faculty director of CEGA. “The Leamer-Rosenthal Prizes will help speed the adoption of transparent practices by recognizing and rewarding researchers and educators whose work and teaching exemplify the best in open social science.”

The competition consists of two categories. The Emerging Leaders in Open Social Science Research Prize will award cash prizes of up to $15,000 to early-career researchers who adopt transparent research practices or pioneer new methods to increase the rigor of research. The Leaders in Open Social Science Education Prize will award up to $10,000 to faculty leaders who mainstream research transparency into their teaching. Winners will receive their awards, and have the opportunity to present their research, at the BITSS Annual Meeting in December at UC Berkeley. The prize is open to scholars and educators worldwide.

Leamer-Rosenthal Prize entries will be reviewed by a distinguished panel of leading scholars. The deadline to enter is September 13, 2015, and winners will be notified by October 13. To enter or learn more, please go to: www.bitss.org/prizes. BITSS is an international network of researchers and institutions committed to improving the standards of openness and integrity in economics, political science, psychology, and related disciplines. Central to BITSS is the identification of useful tools and strategies for increasing transparency and reproducibility in research, including the use of study registries, pre-analysis plans, code version control, data sharing platforms, disclosure standards, and replications.

About Edward E. Leamer and Robert Rosenthal

Edward E. Leamer is the Chauncey J. Medberry Chair in Management and professor in economics and statistics at the University of California Los Angeles. He is known for his 1983 paper, “Let’s Take the Con Out of Econometrics,” where he explains how easy it is for researchers to adapt their research models to produce nearly any desired result.

Robert Rosenthal
is the Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside. He is known for his 1979 paper, “The ‘File Drawer Problem’ and Tolerance for Null Results,” in which he describes how studies showing null, complex, or inconclusive results often fail to get published, remaining in a so-called “file drawer.”


Temina Madon

Temina Madon is executive director of the Center for Effective Global Action and provides leadership in the center’s scientific development, partnerships, and outreach. She has worked as science policy adviser for the National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center, where she focused on enhancing research capacity in developing countries. She has also served as science and technology policy fellow for the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, managing an extensive portfolio of global health policy issues.