Proportion of Academic Institutions With Courses on Open and Reproducible Science and Characteristics of the Courses

Hassan Khan,1,3 Mona Ghannad,1,9 Elham Almoli,1,4 Marina Christ Franco,1,5 Jeremy Ng,1 Ana Patricia Ayala,6 Emma L. Henderson,7 Clare Ardern,8 Kelly Cobey,9 Sara Saba,10 David Moher1,2


Previous research has shown that academic institutions, in general, have neither endorsed nor implemented open science (OS) practices among faculty when it comes to promotion, tenure, and hiring.1,2 Academic institutions play an integral role in driving a culture shift toward OS. Through raising awareness of the potential benefits and pitfalls of OS and providing necessary skills and training to their learners, staff and faculty are crucial in facilitating a culture change.3 There is limited research examining the degree to which academic institutions prepare their students and trainees for best practices and/or government mandates in OS. The aim of this study was to examine (1) the proportion of a subset of academic institutions currently teaching a course on OS and (2) the characteristics of the eligible courses based on a set criteria of 6 OS topics.


This cross-sectional study examined the teaching of OS courses from January 2015 onward at the undergraduate and graduate level in a random global sample of 127 academic institutions. Academic institutions were selected based on the Centre for Science and Technology Leiden 2021 world ranking based on the proportion of open access publications. Courses with at least 6 consecutive and thematic lectures with a university or equivalent departmental code were eligible and were assessed on 6 OS topics (reproducibility [crisis] and/or replication; design, methods, or data [code] material transparency; registration and/or preregistration; publishing of research and publication models; conceptual and statistical knowledge; and academic life and culture) based on the Framework for Open and Reproducible Research Training and the Transparency and Openness Promotion guidelines.


Of the 127 academic institutions examined, 65 (51%) had accessible course catalogs and/or course descriptions. Fifty-four institutions (83%) were identified as having previously taught or currently teaching a course or courses on OS. Overall, 72 possible OS courses were identified, with 4 OS course syllabi (6%) currently accessible. Three of the syllabi discussed reproducibility (crisis)/replicability; design, methods, or data (code) transparency; and conceptual and statistical knowledge. Two discussed academic culture and registration (and/or preregistration), although neither discussed publishing of research and publication models.


This study provides a snapshot of the proportion of a subset of academic institutions currently teaching a course on OS and the depth of OS topics being taught to learners. This study highlights the extent to which academic institutions are fostering a learning environment that supports OS in higher education.


1. Rice DB, Raffoul H, Ioannidis JPA, Moher D. Academic criteria for promotion and tenure in biomedical sciences faculties: cross sectional analysis of international sample of universities. BMJ. 2020;369:m2081. doi:10.1136/bmj.m2081

2. Khan H, Almoli E, Franco MC, Moher D. Open science failed to penetrate academic hiring practices: a cross-sectional study. J Clin Epidemiol. 2022;144:136-143. doi:10.1016/j.jclinepi.2021.12.003

3. League of European Research Universities. Open science and its role in universities: a roadmap for cultural change. Published May 2018. Accessed January 24, 2021. https://www.leru.org/files/LERU-AP24-Open-Science-full-paper.pdf

1Centre for Journalology, Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, hassankhan@cmail.carleton.ca; 2School of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; 3Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; 4School of Interdisciplinary Science, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; 5School of Dentistry, Federal University of Pelotas, Pelotas, Brazil; 6Gerstein Science Information Centre, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; 7School of Psychology, University of Surrey, Surrey, England; 8Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, British Columbia, Canada; 9University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; 10Faculty of Science, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Conflict of Interest Disclosures

There are no conflicts of interest to declare related to this study. Some of the members of the study are involved with initiatives related to research transparency, including the Hong Kong Principles, The Centre for Open Science, and Declaration on Research Assessment. David Moher is an associate director of the International Congress on Peer Review and Scientific Publication but was not involved in the review or decision of this abstract.