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As a study participant I care what happens with the results

I got a question to participate in a survey for a scientific study a couple of days ago due to some work I do in the field of IT security. I wrote the e-mail below to the study author. While participating in a survey or not is not a big deal I think everyone participating in any kind of study should care about the scientific practices she/he supports.

Dear [...],

You have asked me to participate in your study via an oanline survey. I'm a scientifically minded person, therefore supporting science is usually something I'd do.

However I feel that the information you give participants of the survey is disappointing. You tell participants that they will likely have no risk in participating in the study and that they can win an Amazon gift card. However what I'd like to know – and what you don't tell me – is if and in which way the study I contribute to will be published. I therefore have no way of knowing whether this study will ever be published at all, whether it will support or hurt the body of scientific knowledge and whether I'll ever be able to see the result.

As a person interested in science I care about the quality of scientific research. Therefore I find these questions important and I think every person asked to participate in any kind of study should ask such questions.

There's a widespread problem in many fields of science that's known as publication bias. Many scientific studies never get published, because the result of the study doesn't align with the beliefs of the study author or simply isn't considered interesting. There's a large bias towards only publishing positive results. This poisons the body of evidence science is creating and is likely one of the major reasons why so many scientific results turn out to be not reproducible.

Apart from this issue I don't want to support a scientific publishing system that is only profiting some publishers, while keeping research behind paywalls. I therefore would like to know whether studies I participate in will be published as Open Access.

I'm sorry to tell you that I won't participate in your survey. I suggest however that you consider these issues and in future studies inform your participants how you intend to publish the results and how they can find out where to find the results later.

I will publish an anonymous version of this e-mail (without your name and the purpose of your study) on my blog


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