Policy on Scientific Integrity, Transparency, and Openness

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The advancement of detailed and diverse knowledge about the development of the world’s children* is essential for improving the health and well-being of humanity. The Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) regards scientific integrity, transparency, and openness as essential for the conduct of research and its application to practice and policy. These values apply to research conduct, to the teaching of scientific methods, and to the translation of science into practice and policy.

SRCD regards it as an essential responsibility of the producers and consumers of child development research to act ethically, conscientiously, and with integrity and to strive for transparency and openness in research practice, publication, and dissemination. In turn, SRCD aims to provide clear guidance to its members and authors about practices that embrace these values and, as appropriate, provide resources for achieving them.

SRCD holds that highlighting integrity, transparency, and openness as core values of the Society strengthens child development research as a whole. In emphasizing these values, our science will yield more robust and reliable findings that others can readily build upon and will better serve parents, the public, and policymakers who support and depend upon our work.

By scientific integrity, we mean the “active adherence to the ethical practices and professional standards essential for the responsible practice of research.”1 Scientific integrity includes the core values of openness, objectivity, fairness, honesty, accountability and stewardship at every step in the scientific enterprise.2

By transparency, we mean the clear, accurate, and complete reporting of all components of scientific research.2 Transparency includes, but is not limited to, reporting the following: participant characteristics, how participants were identified, recruited, and screened, and by what criteria they were included or excluded; how and when participants were tested, measured, or observed; what apparatus, equipment, or instruments were employed; what transformations the measures or observations underwent; what material and financial resources supported the research.

By openness, we refer to the sharing of scientific resources, such as methods, measures, and data, in order to further scientific advances. Scientific openness ranges from provision of materials to other scientists, at no cost or specific obligation, to the depositing of scientific data in data sharing repositories.

SRCD embraces both the society’s global scope and diverse professions dedicated to advancing child development and the distinct ways researchers approach this task. In reaffirming integrity, transparency, and openness as core values of the society, SRCD acknowledges that no single set of practices can apply to the diversity of research conducted by our membership or authors. By embracing transparency and openness, we do not intend to communicate that all researchers must share all of their information without restriction, or that failing to do so constitutes a lapse in scientific integrity.3

SRCD espouses practices that minimize potential harm to contributing participants, researchers, and the public. The value of minimizing harm takes priority over the values of increased scientific transparency and openness. SRCD further acknowledges the need to protect researchers from professional harm that can occur when requests for scientific transparency and openness veer into attacks on the integrity of researchers themselves or result in significant, new, or unfunded burdens that limit progress in scholarship.

Along those lines, SRCD encourages authors of works submitted to Society publications to note if and where data, methods, hypotheses, and any other relevant information about a prospective submission are available. In keeping with the aforementioned ideals, Society publications will consider (though by no means require) submissions reporting preregistered and replication studies. SRCD supports researcher efforts to heighten transparency in published works, and at the same time recognizes that not every researcher has the ability, permission, or desire to share sensitive, labor-intensive information.

*We use the term children broadly to include participants and their families at all stages of development ranging from the prenatal to emerging adulthood periods.
** Examples of how these policies shape specific scientific practices of SRCD along with resources for implementing them may be found on the Author Guidelines on Scientific Integrity and Openness for Publishing in Child Development.

References

Korenman, S. G. (2006). Teaching the responsible conduct of research in humans (RCRH). United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Research Integrity. Retrieved from https://ori.hhs.gov/education/products/ucla/chapter1/page02.htm
National Academies of Sciences & Medicine. (2017). Fostering Integrity in Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Retrieved from https://www.nap.edu/catalog/21896/fostering-integrity-in-research
Lewandowsky, S., & Bishop, D. (2016). Research integrity: Don’t let transparency damage science. Nature, 529(7587), 459–461. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/529459a

Effective April 1, 2019