Campaign for Open & Trustworthy Science

Campaign for Open & Trustworthy Science
Campaign for adoption of quality principles for research publications through collaboration between Funders and Researchers communities.

by Dmitri Zaitsev

Participating to challenge(s): Data analysis and simulation

Created on: June 17, 2020 / Last update: August 13, 2020
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  • Short Name: #TrustInScience
  • Status: Active/Ongoing

Campaign for Open & Trustworthy Science 


Building on the work of a network of leading open science advocates over 20+ years facilitated on Public Discussion on Publishing Reform

GOAL: Global adoption of new quality principles for research publications, achieved through collaboration between funders, researchers communities and public.

What help is needed?

3 components of the campaign (Stage 1)

  1. The Open Letter to be revised, finalized and signed, must be short and clear to be read and understood by everyone.
  2. Links to sources and evidence documents - directly from the Open Letter, and many others in the separate file Sources and Evidences in support of the Open Letter
  3. This public discussion forum to ask and answer any questions related to the campaign.



IMPORTANT - please sign on to Our Publishing Reform Forum to comment and receive updates by email to be notified when our Open Letter is ready to be signed!


UPDATE - Please use this document to include links of all helpful sources and evidences

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1yd6hfNwmMHbuq8PhroWeWobELlNC2hxgZmDcDL9qlkU/edit?usp=sharing

Dear ALL,

We need your help to restore public trust in science.

Below is a draft Open Letter, to be signed by citizens worldwide supporting this cause. Once ready, it will be circulated for signatures and sent to people in a position to help us achieve this change.

Please help with your comments to make our message as simple, accessible and crystal clear as possible.

Provisional action plan

  1. CURRENT STAGE: Listen to everyone’s feedback, concerns, thoughts and ideas.
  2. Finalize our Open Letter “Our Science is in Danger and we need Your Help!“, addressed to world’s research funders who are in an unique position of power and independence to initiate this process of change.
  3. Widely circulate to gain as many supporters and signatures as we can, and continue looking for more outreach and dialogue.
  4. Send to research funders, and everyone in power to convince them, to work towards making this change happen.
  5. Ensure backing by researchers and their institutions.
  6. Establish an open global community to oversee and promote this process of change, and ensure everyone’s voice is heard and concerns are respected.

Dear All,

Without your support, our voices will be ignored, and nothing will change

Next time it could be your loved ones, family or friends who suffer from consequences of published flawed studies or treatments. 


Dear Research Funders, our Science is in Danger and we need Your Help!

In May 2020, the prestigious medical journal The Lancet published a flawed study regarding the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19. Governments and the World Health Organization (WHO) relied on this flawed research until under massive pressure it was retracted by three of its four authors. 

Writing in The Guardian, Northeastern University researcher James Heathers describes this case as "one of the biggest retractions in modern history”, and points out that “studies like this determine how people live or die tomorrow".

According to The Guardian, one reason this flawed study was originally published is the current practice of "extreme opacity” of peer review by many publishers. This opacity “allows flawed papers to hide in plain sight”. This same opacity will continue to allow other flawed papers to be published in the future. 

And patients can die from a flawed treatment as the result of research they thought was credible because it was published in a reputable journal.

What about solutions? 

The solutions have been proposed repeatedly over many years. As articulated by James Heathers in The Guardian, they include: 

  • require more transparency; 
  • mandate more scrutiny;
  • prioritise publishing papers which present data and analytical code alongside a manuscript;
  • re-analyse papers for their accuracy before publication, instead of just assessing their potential importance;
  • engage expert statistical reviewers where necessary, and pay them if you must; 
  • be immediately responsive to criticism, and enforce this same standard on authors.

But who has the power to demand the change?

  • Researchers are hugely dependent on established journals for their careers and therefore have too little power and are not in a position to make demands. 
  • Even universities, with their chronic underfunding and fierce competition in rankings, depend too heavily on publishers.
  • Funders, on the other hand, occupy a unique position: They have both the power and the independence to initiate a process of improving the quality and trustworthiness of published research, without the risk of being hurt. 

And we already have the example of Plan S as evidence that these funders-led initiatives are feasible and lead to far-going transformations

Funders also have the responsibility to spend their funds in the best interest of the public they represent. Including both funds they pay to publishers directly, and the resulting market cost for other researchers and institutions to stay competitive. 


Dear Funders,

We are calling on you to initiate required bolder steps addressing this problem.

We are calling on you to develop and to implement new principles of quality assurance and transparency, to prevent similar cases from happening again in the future. 

Once these principles are initiated and implemented by funders, researchers and their institutions worldwide will follow and publishers will need to adapt or fail. 

Because, as The Guardian elegantly puts it, "the alternative is more retractions, more missteps, more wasted time, more loss of public trust … and more death".

Dear All:

Please feel welcome and encouraged to make any suggestions or corrections or add comments, both here and on the Publishing Reform Forum thread.

Share this page on social media, and don’t forget to sign in to Our Publishing Reform Forum to comment and receive updates by email to be notified when our Open Letter is ready to be signed!

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