Clearinghouse Standards of Evidence on the Transparency, Openness, and Reproducibility of Intervention Evaluations | SpringerLink

Abstract:  Clearinghouses are influential repositories of information on the effectiveness of social interventions. To identify which interventions are “evidence-based,” clearinghouses review intervention evaluations using published standards of evidence that focus primarily on internal validity and causal inferences. Open science practices can improve trust in evidence from evaluations on the effectiveness of social interventions. Including open science practices in clearinghouse standards of evidence is one of many efforts that could increase confidence in designations of interventions as “evidence-based.” In this study, we examined the policies, procedures, and practices of 10 federal evidence clearinghouses that review preventive interventions—an important and influential subset of all evidence clearinghouses. We found that seven consider at least one open science practice when evaluating interventions: replication (6 of 10 clearinghouses), public availability of results (6), investigator conflicts of interest (3), design and analysis transparency (3), study registration (2), and protocol sharing (1). We did not identify any policies, procedures, or practices related to analysis plan registration, data sharing, code sharing, material sharing, and citation standards. We provide a framework with specific recommendations to help federal and other evidence clearinghouses implement the Transparency and Openness Promotion (TOP) Guidelines. Our proposed “TOP Guidelines for Clearinghouses” includes reporting whether evaluations used open science practices, incorporating open science practices in their standards for receiving “evidence-based” designations, and verifying that evaluations used open science practices. Doing so could increase the trustworthiness of evidence used for policy making and support improvements throughout the evidence ecosystem.


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