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A Taxonomy of Transparency in Science

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 June 2020

Kevin C. Elliott*
Lyman Briggs College, Department of Fisheries & Wildlife, and Department of Philosophy, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA


Both scientists and philosophers of science have recently emphasized the importance of promoting transparency in science. For scientists, transparency is a way to promote reproducibility, progress, and trust in research. For philosophers of science, transparency can help address the value-ladenness of scientific research in a responsible way. Nevertheless, the concept of transparency is a complex one. Scientists can be transparent about many different things, for many different reasons, on behalf of many different stakeholders. This paper proposes a taxonomy that clarifies the major dimensions along which approaches to transparency can vary. By doing so, it provides several insights that philosophers and other science studies scholars can pursue. In particular, it helps address common objections to pursuing transparency in science, it clarifies major forms of transparency, and it suggests avenues for further research on this topic.

© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Canadian Journal of Philosophy

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