MCC’s First Open Data Challenge

The U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) wants to hear your new and innovative ideas on how to maximize the use of data that MCC finances for its independent evaluations.

Keynote speakers at this year’s BITSS Research Transparency Forum, Jennifer Sturdy and Jack Molyneaux at MCC’s Department of Policy and Evaluation, and Kathy Farley and Kristin Penn at the Department of Compact Operations outlined the details of the challenge in a recent post on the MCC Poverty Reduction Blog.

Why issue the challenge?

The release of this data is intended to facilitate broader use of the data, above and beyond the scope of the independent evaluations that produced this data. Since the challenge was announced at the end of August, one question to MCC has been – what type of additional learning is the agency interested in?

Who can accept the challenge?

MCC has just announced its first Open Data Challenge – the call-to-action to any masters and PhD students working in economics, public policy, international development, or other related fields who are interested in exploring how to use publicly available MCC-financed primary data for policy-relevant analysis. (more…)

To Get More Out of Science, Show the Rejected Research



In a recent opinion piece on the New York Times news portal the Upshot, Brendan Nyhan, an assistant professor of government at Dartmouth College, comments on a host of transparency related issues.

Closely echoing the mission of BITSS, Nyhan identifies the potential of research transparency to improve the rigor and ultimately the benefits of federally funded scientific research writing:

The problem is that the research conducted using federal funds is driven — and distorted — by the academic publishing model. The intense competition for space in top journals creates strong pressures for novel, statistically significant effects. As a result, studies that do not turn out as planned or find no evidence of effects claimed in previous research often go unpublished, even though their findings can be important and informative.


Africa’s Data Revolution – Amanda Glassman

Interview originally posted on the Global Poverty Wonkcast:


Is the revolution upon us? When it comes to data, the development world seems to be saying yes, Yes, YES! To look beyond the hype, I invited Amanda Glassman, a CGD senior fellow and director of our global health policy program, to join me on the show to discuss a new report from the Data for African Development working group that looks at Africa’s statistical capacity, warts and all. It turns out that the revolution may not be all it’s cracked up to be, and that well-intentioned outsiders—donors especially—are too often part of the problem.

I ask Amanda if big data is going to solve these problems. Is there hope that Africa will simply be swept up in a big data tsunami?

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Can Post-Publication Peer-Review Increase Research Transparency?

Guest Post by Liz Allen (ScienceOpen)

For the 3rd annual conference of The Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences (BITSS), ScienceOpen, the new Open Access (OA) research + publishing network, would like prospective and registered attendees to consider the role that Post-Publication Peer Review (PPPP) can play in increasing the transparency of research.


AJ Cann/Flickr, CC BY-SA

When we launched earlier this year, we interviewed Advisory Board Member Peter Suber. One of the original founders of the Open Access movement, Peter is currently director of the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication and the Harvard Open Access Project. His latest book, “Open Access” (MIT Press, 2012), is an important starting point for anyone new to the topic. We asked Peter various questions including “How important is it that OA penetrates research disciplines beyond science?” Here’s what he said:

“It is very important in my opinion. I have been arguing since 2004 that OA brings the same benefits in every field, even if some fields present more obstacles or fewer opportunities. For example, the natural sciences are better funded than the humanities, which means they have more money to pay for OA. In particular, there is more public funding for the sciences than the humanities, which means that the compelling taxpayer argument for OA gets more traction in the sciences than the humanities. In addition, books are at least as important as journal articles for humanities scholars, if not more import ant, and OA for books, while growing quickly, is objectively harder than OA for journal articles. The good news is that OA in the humanities is growing – not faster than OA in the sciences, but faster than in the past. More humanities scholars understand the benefits and opportunities for OA, and are answering the objections and misunderstandings raised against it”.


COS Now Offering Free Consulting Services

A close partner of BITSS, the Center for Open Science (COS) has launched a free consulting service to anyone seeking help with “statistical and methodological questions related to reproducible practices, research design, data analysis, and data management.”

The Center is dedicated to increasing the “openness, integrity, and reproducibility of scientific research” and is looking to advance its mission through a more hands-on approach. Those with methodological questions can email for free assistance from computer and data scientists trained in reproducibility and advanced research methods. If a question is too complicated to be answered via email, researchers can schedule a Google Hangout with a COS consultant to have their questions answered in real time. Visit the COS Google Calender for availability.

The Center also offers online and on-site workshops for those seeking to gain a greater understanding of open research topics and tools. For more information on the details of COS’s services visit their Statistical & Methodological Consulting Services page.

Announcing The 2014 Research Transparency Forum

BITSS is pleased to announce its 3rd annual meeting (December 11-12 – Berkeley, CA).

This year’s research transparency meeting will be the first to be open to the public and is anticipated to be the largest BITSS event to date. The event will act to update the academic community of the growing movement for greater openness in research and as a forum to discuss a variety of transparency related issues such as changing journal practices, novel evidence of publication bias and burgeoning related initiatives.

The gatheregister_now_buttonring will cater to a range of guests from seasoned transparency experts to new supporters of the transparency movement. As such the event will consist of a variety of activities including a collaborative training session geared towards disseminating new tools, a public conference with presentations from transparency leaders, and a research seminar showcasing the latest developments in the world of research transparency.

Confirmed speakers include Edward Miguel (CEGA’s Faculty Director), John Ioannidis from Stanford School of Medicine, Victoria Stodden from the University of Illinois and Brian Nosek from the Center for Open Science.

For more information visit the BITSS Annual Meeting page and to attend register here.

White House Calls for Comments on Reproducible Research

The White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has released a request for information on improving the reproducibility of federally funded scientific research.

Given recent evidence of the irreproducibility of a surprising number of published scientific findings, how can the Federal Government leverage its role as a significant funder of scientific research to most effectively address the problem?


A similar request for comments posted by the OSTP on open-access research resulted in policies mandating federally-funded research be made publicly accessible.

To submit comments email by September 23rd.

All the latest on research transparency

Here you can find information about the Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences (BITSS), read and comment on opinion blog posts, learn about our annual meeting, find useful tools and resources, and contribute to the discussion by adding your voice.

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