Open Science!

Most scientific research in the U.S. is paid for by public dollars, so it's only fair that the results should be freely available to the public. In the days before the internet, scientists and students at less-wealthy institutions or in less-wealthy countries, as well as any person who was not affiliated with a university, had very limited access to the scientific literature. With the internet, those days are over... or at least they should be.

Unfortunately, a lot of scientific work is still published in subscription-based journals that charge people money to read them. It's an absurd system: Taxpayers fund the research; we (scientists) do the research and send it to the journals for free; our colleagues (other scientists) provide quality control in the form of peer review and editing, also for free. Then the journals slap a copyright on (our) work and charge people (including our own universities, which means our students) a lot of money to read it. Michael Eisen has compared this to an obstetrician who delivers your baby, then claims to own it and leases it back to you for a high annual fee. This has led to a boycott of Elsevier by over 16,800 researchers worldwide, including Prof. Sarnecka. (The boycott singles out Elsevier, but the other three large academic parasites publishers--Wiley, Springer, Taylor & Francis-- are just as bad.)

When we as scientists participate in this system, we contribute to the exploitation of all scientists, and of our students (whose tuition dollars pay the absurd journal subscription fees) and of the public, who are unable to read the research that they already paid for with their taxes. As George Monbiot points out, this way of doing things contravenes the universal declaration of human rights, which says that "everyone has the right freely to … share in scientific advancement and its benefits."

We want our work to contribute to a better and more open scientific culture. Here are some of the steps we're taking.


  • Open Access. We make all of our papers immediately and freely available on this website and on eScholarship, the University of California's open-access repository. (If you find a citation to a paper of ours that isn't available for download, it's an oversight. Let us know and we'll post it.)
  • Open Data. We make all of our data publicly available via the Open Science Framework. Please explore, download and reuse our data. We're in the process of posting data from our old studies too, but it takes time to create the 'read me' files to explain the variable names, etc. We're working on this as time allows.
  • Open Materials. We also publish our experimental stimuli, code and any other materials a reader might need in order to replicate our work. Just as with data we are doing this as we go for new studies, and in our spare time locating and posting the materials from our old studies.
  • Supporting Noncommercial, Open Publishers: In choosing where to publish our work, as well as where to contribute service in the form of reviewing or editing, we give priority to high-quality, peer-reviewed, noncommercial, open-access journals whenever possible. We hope that our colleagues, especially those who use our open papers and open data, will do the same.

We are huge fans of registered reports! We already preregister all of our new studies on OSF, but even better than unreviewed preregistration is getting your introduction and methods peer-reviewed, and getting an in-principle acceptance from a journal before you start collecting data! Registered reports are particularly useful for developmental researchers, who often spend two years or more collecting data for a single study. Barbara has joined the editorial board of the Journal of Numerical Cognition as the associate editor for registered reports, so if you are a number researcher interested in trying this new and better way of publishing your work, please submit!

Barbara has signed on to this initiative, which gives reviewers a way to urge authors to make their data, materials and code open (or explain why they can't) as part of the review process. What a great idea!

Watch the video Open Access Explained! by PhD Comics