Open Plant Pathology: How Much Do We (Plant Pathologists) Value Openness and Transparency?

“We (Emerson Del Ponte and Adam Sparks) started this initiative (Open Plant Pathology) in early January 2018 with the idea that we would create a community in which plant pathologists could come together and share resources and ideas and encourage a freer exchange of information, code and data. One of the reasons for this was that a few years before that, we’d started working on analysis of randomly selected plant pathology papers, initially we looked at 300 published from 2012 until 2018, but it later grew to encompass 450 papers published from 2012 until 2021, with Kaique Alves, Zachary Foster and Nik Grünwald, which was published in Phytopathology® in January (Sparks et al. 2023b). What we were finding as we looked at papers across 21 journals that were dedicated to plant pathology research or published specialised sections or articles in the field of plant pathology was not surprising, but still disappointing. As a discipline, we simply do not make much, if any, effort to help ensure that others can easily reproduce our work after it is published (Sparks et al. 2023b).

We found that most articles were not reproducible according to our scoring system and failed to take advantage of open science and reproduciblity methods that would benefit both the authors and the readers. To wit, the vast majority of articles we looked at made no attempt to share code or data, scoring “0” in our system (Figure 1)….”