Early Career Award: 2022 Finalists

Measuring human experience around the globe: Translated Instruments Validation Initiative

Well-being, attitudes towards climate change, beliefs about privacy — psychological experiments across the globe strive to capture the human condition. Engaging in such research requires reliable and valid instruments such as high-quality questionnaires and surveys in many languages. So far, however, “instruments are often translated without an investigation of their reliability and validity,” says psychologist Jessica Flake from McGill University in Montreal. In consequence, the concrete meaning of questions like “How satisfied are you with life?” can literally get lost in translation. To overcome this problem, the scientist proposes the Translated Instruments Validation Initiative (TIVI) together with Nicholas Coles from Stanford University. By pooling resources from thousands of scientists, the initiative aims to develop a database of reliable psychological instruments useable on a global scale. “TIVI will provide an interactive dashboard allowing researchers to download rigorously tested instruments in their language of choice,” Jessica Flake explains. In this way, the psychologists hope to contribute to a more diversified pool of both researchers and study participants.

Monitoring transparent research practices: Open Science Observatory

Transparent research practices help to ensure findings are reliable, verifiable, and reproducible. However, most research is not transparently reported. With the Open Science Observatory, four researchers from the University of Melbourne, Stanford University, and the company Prolaio Inc. are introducing a quality management tool that puts scientific studies to the test. “Transparency underpins research quality, but it’s widely neglected, as the recent deluge of low- quality COVID-19 research illustrates,” team representative Tom Hardwicke explains. To foster change, the project combines crowdsourcing and algorithms to monitor transparent research practices. “The Open Science Observatory will produce maps of the research transparency landscape, enabling us to gauge the health of the academic literature and adapt our efforts towards improving it.” Displaying its findings on a public dashboard, the project team aims to show the positive impact of transparent research practices and help policy makers design and refine transparency initiatives worldwide.

Improving clinical research quality: TrialsTracker

Clinical trials are often underreported, or not reported at all, yet remain the bread and butter of decision-making in health  care. “Failing to report health research biases our under-standing of the benefits and harms of medical interventions,” says Nicholas DeVito. “It leads to research waste, inefficient decision-making, and sometimes real harm to patients.” To make sure reporting requirements are more reliably met, the scientist from the University of Oxford led the development of audit tools as part of the TrialsTracker project. The publicly available platforms offer automated audits of compliance regarding trial reporting in the US and the EU. “It’s a first-in-class tool for clinical trials transparency  that provides the public with valuable information, scientists with tools and data, and policymakers with context for their decisions about the regulation of clinical research.” Building on the original idea, DeVito plans to expand the TrialsTracker project with additional data, functionality, and coverage. “Expanded datasets, tools, and services will support scientists and the public with audit data responsive to the evolving research policy environment and thereby guarantee ongoing transparency into the reporting of clinical trials.”

Read more about the EU Trials Tracker project on the blog of our media partner PLOS.