4 Key Benefits of Transparency in Research Administration

Transparency is a key tenet in research. In addition to supporting ethical research practices, transparency is a key factor towards reproducibility. In other words, if you show your work, then you (and other scientists) can do it again.  

Transparency and reproducibility support accountability, scientific innovation, and collaboration, contributing to an overall more robust and ethical research community.  But beyond the research itself, transparency benefits research administrators and the institutions they serve. Transparency isn’t just good science—it’s good business.

Taking a cue from our colleagues in research, these are the four key benefits of transparency.

Productivity

As mentioned, transparent research is reproducible. Let’s extrapolate the same idea for research administration: if you maintain transparent data, you can identify best practices and repeat them.

Think of transparency as a shared starting point. With visible, accessible data from your RA system, you can acknowledge success, identify areas of improvement, and set expectations. Transparency lets you determine best practices and reproduce them with each protocol. And when everyone shares the same goals, they’ll make informed decision towards meeting them.

For a real-world example of how transparency improved productivity in a busy IRB office, check out this case study.

Accountability

For researchers, transparency contributes to credibility in the scientific community. After all, if you keep your methods a secret, other might not trust the results. By disclosing research methods, clearly tracking the process, and providing complete results, researchers build trust and strengthen the reputation of their work. 

On the administrative side, accountability impacts funding. Consider grants: you can’t get funding if you don’t clearly show how the money will be spent, and you often must provide reports showing how funds are allocated. In this case, transparency is a mandated necessity—but it’s also good business, as it lets you evaluate how to best use resources.

Of course, transparency can also help ward off concerns about conflicts of interest. A COI system with consistently maintained, easy-to-access reports supports research integrity and your bottom line.

Collaboration

Transparency engenders collaboration, and that leads to progress. As explained in this video from CrashCourse, reproducibility doesn’t just confirm results—it allows for refinement when researchers iterate and expand on ideas that came before. By reproducing results, scientists expand on ideas that came before, indirectly collaborating to build on previous findings and further scientific progress.

At Bad Rabbit, collaboration is a key part of our job. We work closely with partner institutions to build on projects, incorporating client feedback and ideas every step along the way. By taking an iterative approach—as modeled by researchers—we’re able to continually refine results, ensuring practical and resource-efficient solutions for research administration. And with cooperation from our client partners, those results are shared with other research institutions, contributing to a collaborative research administration community.

Data & Metrics

As research has become increasingly computer-based, the issue of digital transparency has gained importance. In a 2017 report, Nature Magazine notes how releasing code and data as part of a comprehensive disaggregation of the research process “allows greater access to the thinking behind a project.” A 2018 story from The Conversation notes that modern computing makes it possible to share and review large data sets, contributing to “open science” that benefits researchers and the public alike.

Digital transparency makes work easier and more productive for research administrators, too. Maintaining secure, accurate data in an easy-to-access form lets you understand how long processes take, analyze performance metrics and work load, push for accountability, and make informed decisions. Read this blog post for more on how data drives change.

Transparency at Bad Rabbit

At Bad Rabbit, we take a lesson from our clients in research administration, working towards transparency in our business practices and engagements. From clear, specific roadmaps to transparent billing practices, we aim for maximum accountability and reproducible results.

We admit it: transparency is good for business. But more importantly, it’s good for the research community at large.