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Transparency on the rise

A study published in the journal PLOS Biology suggests biomedical research is becoming more open and transparent. The study, published in November, analyzed 149 articles published between 2015 and 2017 and found that 69% provided information on the source of funding, 65% mentioned whether or not the authors had any conflicts of interest related to the research, and 20% made the underlying data publicly available. These indices were much lower, in some cases almost zero, in a previous survey of 441 articles published between 2000 and 2014.

Joshua Wallach, a researcher at the Yale School of Public Health and one of the authors of the paper, believes the more open behavior of the biomedical research community is promising. “This is a reason to be optimistic,” he told the journal Nature. He attributes the change in part to new requirements from scientific journals, which have adopted data-sharing policies and generally ask authors for statements on funding and conflicts of interest to prevent bias. Wallach emphasizes that access to data and protocols is vital to enabling other researchers to replicate the results. “The fact we are now seeing statements on data sharing shows the culture is shifting,” he said.