Outlook: Newsletter of the Society of Behavorial Medicine

Summer 2020

SBM Adopts Open Science Recommendations

Megan McVay, PhD‚úČ; Chair, Publication & Communication Council

In 2019, SBM’s then-President Michael Diefenbach initiated the development of an SBM working group focused on open science. This group was asked to explore the implications of open science for behavioral scientists, to educate SBM members about open science, and to develop open science recommendations for the SBM Board to consider. This group was chaired by Bradford Hesse, and included members David Conroy, Kenneth Tercyak, Dominika Kwasnicka, Molly Waring, Abby King, Eric Hekler, and Sarah Andrus (Ms. Andrus is a representative from the Society’s journal publisher, Oxford University Press).

Open science has many components, and the SBM working group focused on three broad categories: (1) Publications, including editorial policy for SBM journals, (2) Resource sharing, and (3) Citizen science. This Spring, the Working Group presented to the SBM Board of Directors a set of recommendations, which were approved by the Board. The recommendations from each of the areas of focus are summarized as follows:


The working group identified several opportunities to increase the transparency of our scientific publications. The working group recommended that SBM adopt Transparency and Openness Promotion (TOP) Guidelines at Level 1. TOP Guidelines were developed by journals, funders, and societies to help journals implement more transparent research practices (more information on TOP Guidelines can be found at https://www.cos.io/our-services/top-guidelines. Level 1 of these guidelines focuses primarily on embracing disclosure of certain transparency practices for journal articles. For example, authors might be asked to explicitly report if their research was pre-registered and if their data and materials are publicly available. The working group also recommended that journals start to use Open Science Badges for articles that engage in certain open science practices, such as sharing data (see here for more information on Open Science Badges: https://www.cos.io/our-services/badges. The working group further recommended that journals permit and encourage prior publication on preprint servers. Finally, the group recommended  adding journal sections for replication studies, and encouraged the Society’s journals to investigate a two-stage peer review process, often called “Registered Reports” (learn more here: https://www.cos.io/our-services/registered-reports).

Resource Sharing

Shared resources may include data, data collection tools, statistical code, intervention content, and digital health tools. The working group recommended that SBM strive to build member awareness of current data and resource sharing opportunities. They also recommended that the Society nurture efforts by SBM members to seek funding for external data and resource sharing platforms. Additionally, the working group encourages SBM and SBM journals to integrate policies and tools to ease the burden of data and resource sharing, as they become available.

Citizen Science

The working group discussed ways to open science by focusing on greater participation by general citizenry in the conduct of science. The working group specifically recommended the Society take steps to support and develop citizen science methods, such as extensions of community-based work and personal science practices. The working group also focused on the role of open science in addressing the “is-ought problem,” which refers to the idea that closed scientific discourse focuses on “what is” and less on “what ought to be.” Opening science to the broader community can help increase a focus on “what ought to be.” The group recommended advocating for resources and pathways to support methods and strategies that can address the is-ought problem.

More details on the SBM Open Science Working Group’s activities and recommendations will soon be available in a Translational Behavioral Medicine publication. These recommendations are just the beginning. Already, the Editors-in-Chief of Annals of Behavioral Medicine (Tracey Revenson, PhD) and Translational Behavioral Medicine (Suzanne Miller, PhD), have been hard at work considering how the recommendations can be adopted by the journals. Furthermore, SBM members should expect to hear more about open science and the role of SBM in open science practices over the coming years. For example, future SBM annual meetings and webinars are sure to include many more opportunities to expand the knowledge and skills of Society members on these important topics. We encourage all members to engage in a dialogue about how we can use open science to improve our research and public health impact.