Has there been meaningful movement toward open science practices within the social sciences in recent years? Discussions about changes in practices such as posting data and pre-registering analyses have been marked by controversy—including controversy over the extent to which change has taken place. This study, based on the State of Social Science (3S) Survey, provides the first comprehensive assessment of awareness of, attitudes towards, perceived norms regarding, and adoption of open science practices within a broadly representative sample of scholars from four major social science disciplines: economics, political science, psychology, and sociology. We observe a steep increase in adoption: as of 2017, over 80% of scholars had used at least one such practice, rising from one quarter a decade earlier. Attitudes toward research transparency are on average similar between older and younger scholars, but the paceof change differs by field and methodology. According with theories of normal science and scientific change, the timing of increases in adoption coincides with technological innovations and institutional policies. Patterns are consistent with most scholars underestimating the trend toward open science in their discipline.
This study estimates the effect of data sharing on the citations of academic articles, using journal policies as a natural experiment. We begin by examining 17 high-impact journals that have adopted the requirement that data from published articles be publicly posted. We match these 17 journals to 13 journals without policy changes and find that empirical articles published just before their change in editorial policy have citation rates with no statistically significant difference from those published shortly after the shift. We then ask whether this null result stems from poor compliance with data sharing policies, and use the data sharing policy changes as instrumental variables to examine more closely two leading journals in economics and political science with relatively strong enforcement of new data policies. We find that articles that make their data available receive 97 additional citations (estimate standard error of 34). We conclude that: a) authors who share data may be rewarded eventually with additional scholarly citations, and b) data-posting policies alone do not increase the impact of articles published in a journal unless those policies are enforced.