Open Synthesis Working Group

A cross-disciplinary group of experts working to open up evidence synthesis

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About the Working Group

The Open Synthesis Working Group is a voluntary, cross-disciplinary group established to discuss the acceptability, feasibility, barriers, facilitators and practicalities of Open Synthesis: making data, methods, code, software, publications, education and peer review freely accessible to all by authors and journals. To find out more, jump to What is Open Synthesis?

The Group is a collaboration of individuals from a range of organisations, backgrounds, and sectors, and those involved were invited in an effort to maintain diversity and balance. The Working Group was formed with the aim of producing guidance on how to improve the transparency, verification and reuse of systematic reviews (and other evidence synthesis methods) and their data. The group consists of leading experts from across health, social welfare, international development, education, and environment, and includes key actors from the major organisations leading the coordination and development of systematic review and mapping guidelines, publication and methodology.

The Working Group has the following aims:

  • To agree on a definition for Open Synthesis
  • To draft a white paper on what the group believes Open Synthesis should look like in practical terms, this could extend to a list of minimum and ideal requirements (e.g. the range and format of additional files needed for repeatable methods and data). This paper should also propose institutional and individual changes needed to achieve Open Synthesis
  • To discuss the relative benefits, costs, barriers and facilitators of moving towards Open Synthesis
  • To survey the working group members and their colleagues about their knowledge of and attitudes towards Open Synthesis, and what challenges might exist
  • To survey journal editors about their attitudes towards Open Synthesis and their readiness to integrate Open Synthesis
  • To publish an academic paper highlighting this set of standards and discussing practical issues (individual and institutional) with achieving Open Synthesis
  • To develop a plan for both research, training, and advocacy activities of the Open Synthesis group and the format for these activities in the future

The Group was established by Dr Neal Haddaway, Senior Research Fellow at the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), and Dr Tamara Lotfi, Coordinator of the Global Evidence Synthesis Initiative (GESI). The group was developed as part of a FORTE-funded Visiting Researcher fellowship awarded to Neal Haddaway to work with GESI at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon.

Open Collaboration

Definition: Non-selective opportunities for collaboration in systematic reviews and maps

Open Discovery

Definition: Free-to-use search facilities for bibliographic data

Open Methods

Definition: Freely accessible detailed methods for systematic reviews and maps

Open Data

Definition: Freely accessible, well documented research data from systematic reviews and maps

Open Source

Definition: Freely accessible, repeatable programmatic code for all software used in systematic reviews and maps

Open Code

Definition: Freely accessible, repeatable code for all analyses conducted within systematic reviews and maps

Open Access

Definition: Free-to-access manuscripts from systematic reviews and maps

Open Peer Review

Definition: Freely accessible peer review reports, responses and versioning from published systematic reviews and maps

Open Education

Definition: Freely accessible and usable training materials relevant to systematic review and map conduct

Open Interests

Definition: Transparent declaration of all relevant financial and non-financial interests