If readers are to trust research findings that directly impact their lives, then research papers must be credible and trustworthy. That’s why transparency has long become the standard of global research, guaranteeing that research findings are accurate and unbiased.
But how to effectively evaluate if your research paper diligently follows transparency guidelines? Below, you’ll find the key questions to ask and the essential details you need to look closely into before publishing or sending your research paper to peer review.
Make A Critical Review and Self-Evaluation of Your Research Paper
Evaluating your own research work can be difficult. So, it’s important to take a step back and put yourself in the shoes of potential evaluators, like peer researchers and even policymakers.
Here are some of the questions they could ask while assessing your research paper:
- Does the paper clearly state its research question, hypothesis, and objectives?
- Does the paper provide a comprehensive and up-to-date literature review that summarizes the existing knowledge and gaps in the field?
- Does the paper discuss the study’s limitations, assumptions, and uncertainties and their implications for interpreting and generalizing the results?
- Does the paper acknowledge the funding sources and conflicts of interest related to the study?
- Does the paper provide access to the raw data, code, materials, and protocols used in the study or explain why they’re unavailable?
Start taking notes and write an honest answer to each of these questions. This self-assessment exercise is more than a double-check of your work; it implies having a bird’s eye view and a fresh perspective of your paper, the findings, and the overall communication style.
For instance, you can make your ideas clearer and more engaging or realize you included too many technical details or jargon.
Key Transparency Indicators of a Research Paper
A transparent paper is more likely to be rigorous, valid, and reproducible than a non-transparent one.
Ensure that your research paper includes detailed information about the statistical or analytical techniques you used to analyze the data (e.g., software, the algorithms, and versions employed). Ideally, the paper should also provide access to the code or scripts used for analysis so that others can reproduce the results.
2. Clear and Detailed Methodology
A transparent research paper offers a clear and thorough description of the research methodology, including:
- the study design
- data collection procedures
- analysis methods
- sample size determination
- randomization procedures
- statistical power calculations.
Your research paper should clearly state how you conducted the study, and whoever reads it should easily understand the information and potentially replicate the research.
3. Compliance with Reporting Guidelines
A clear transparency indicator for research papers is reporting guidelines specific to your research topic and field. These guidelines provide standardized recommendations for transparent reporting.
4. Inclusion of Both Positive and Negative Findings
As your research paper should report the results of the data analysis in an accurate, complete, and unbiased way, this includes mentioning and publishing both positive and negative results.
Even if null results are less interesting, they add increased value to the transparency of your paper. There’s always something to be learned from negative results, and sharing them prevents duplicate research and reduces the chances for other researchers to tackle the same topic and maybe even the same approach.
Negative results could actually provide increased recognition in your field, as some journals specifically look for and publish null results.
5. High Ethical Standards
Transparent research papers should address ethical considerations, such as obtaining appropriate informed consent, protecting participant confidentiality, and ensuring compliance with ethical guidelines or institutional review board approvals. Any potential conflicts of interest should also be disclosed.
One important ethical principle is respecting the right of human subjects to make their own decisions about participating in your research. For instance, you shouldn’t include any detail or data directly related to subjects if you haven’t obtained informed consent to do so.
Readers and evaluators would look at ethical details like:
- if you treated subjects fairly and equitably without discriminating or exploiting them based on their characteristics or circumstances;
- if you used appropriate safeguards to ensure the confidentiality and anonymity of participants’ data.
6. Complete List of Citations and References
Any research paper should be accompanied by proper citations and references to support the claims and findings presented. They’re one of the main elements that prove your credibility as a researcher.
Citations and references show that you’ve researched your topic properly and used reliable and authoritative sources to support your arguments.
Ensure all sources are properly cited within the text and listed in the reference section. You’ll help readers easily find, check the facts you have used to support your claims, and explore the topic further if they’re interested.
Transparency is a best practice but also a good habit that’s beneficial for both researchers and readers. As a source of scientific knowledge and innovation, if research papers contain errors, biases, omissions, or in other words, papers aren’t 100% transparent, their validity and impact will be highly diminished.
As a promoter of transparent research, Orvium has integrated features that support open science and transparent research.
With the help of the open-access publication feature, you’ll enjoy a fast and simple publishing process and the option to share your work within global communities without any restrictions.
Additionally, we’ve enabled transparent peer-review functionality. You can use it as an extra layer of scrutiny where other experts in the field can evaluate the quality and validity of a research paper.
If you’re eager to find out more about Orvium product features, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, or Instagram. You’ll get all the details on how our platform can help you with scientific research collaboration, transparency, and accountability.