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Furthering Open Science in Behavior Analysis: An Introduction and Tutorial for Using GitHub in Research


Open and transparent practices in scholarly research are increasingly encouraged by academic journals and funding agencies. Various elements of behavior analytic research are communicated transparently, though it is not common practice to archive study materials to support future replications. This tutorial presents a review of the Transparent and Open Practices guidelines provided by the Open Science Foundation and provides instructions on how behavior analysts can use GitHub transparency in research across multiple levels. GitHub is presented as a service that can be used to publicly archive various elements of research and is uniquely suited to research that is technical, data driven, and collaborative. The GitHub platform is reviewed, and the steps necessary to create an account, initialize repositories, archive study files, and synchronize changes to remote repositories are described in several examples. Implications of increased calls for transparency and modern statistical methods are discussed with regard to behavior analysis, and archiving platforms such as GitHub are reviewed as one means of supporting transparent research.

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  1. 1.

    The history of the Wikipedia entry related to “Perspectives on Behavior Science” is available at https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Perspectives_on_Behavior_Science&action=history

  2. 2.

    Numbers provided from https://github.com/search?q=is:public as of September 1, 2018.

  3. 3.

    The current location for downloading this program is https://desktop.Github.com

  4. 4.

    We note here that a “.gitignore” file can be used to determine which files are tracked and which are ignored. Intermediate build objects and other binaries are traditionally not tracked because such objects are unlikely to be useful on other machines and are not tracked for this reason.

  5. 5.

    We note that GitHub users may push changes to private repositories, though the primary focus of this tutorial is on the public archiving of files. Repositories that are kept private can be made public later (e.g., after submission for publication).

  6. 6.

    The GitHub repository for the AAC application is available at https://www.github.com/miyamot0/FastTalkerSkiaSharp

  7. 7.

    The GitHub repository for the novel behavioral economic calculation is available at https://www.github.com/miyamot0/PmaxEvaluation

  8. 8.

    We note here that Gilroy et al. (2019) validated a novel calculation of unit elasticity for models of operant demand.

  9. 9.

    Given nature of this particular example, it is likely that users of this level of proficiency would more likely perform this operation via the command line using “git clone https://github.com/[username]/beezdemand.git.”


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Correspondence to Shawn P. Gilroy.

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Gilroy, S.P., Kaplan, B.A. Furthering Open Science in Behavior Analysis: An Introduction and Tutorial for Using GitHub in Research. Perspect Behav Sci 42, 565–581 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40614-019-00202-5

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