Opening Influenza Research


A call for negative results, null results, and replications of important findings

Significant gaps remain in our understanding of influenza that hinder development of the most effective countermeasures to this formidable threat to human health. 


Reproducible evidence is a signature strength of science, yet replications and negative results rarely appear in journals because cultural incentives emphasize novelty over verification (Nosek, Spies, & Motyl, 2012). These behaviors must be addressed and amended in all areas of research, and especially as they relate to findings that can dramatically improve public health and education.

The Public Library of Science (PLOS), the Center for Open Science (COS), and Flu Lab are collaborating to bypass these detrimental incentives and to encourage the availability of all findings that contribute to the influenza body of knowledge. 


Through the Opening Influenza Research project, we invite the influenza research community to “empty the file drawers” and contribute to a thorough aggregation of open and accessible findings.


We invite proposals by 30 November, 2019 from the influenza research community that fit the following submission types:



Emptying the file-drawers of existing negative and null results


Researchers often feel pressure to leave experiments showing negative or inconclusive results out of reports for concern that they decrease publishability, yet the cost of doing so undermines the overall value and credibility of the published literature. For this special collection, we encourage laboratories to empty their file drawers and share negative and null results to highlight their existence and facilitate understanding of research pathways that are unproductive or not yet robust for advancing influenza research.

Accepted papers are eligible to receive a $5,000 award and coverage of article processing charges.


Emptying the file drawers of existing replication studies


Many laboratories conduct replication studies but do not publish them because of perceived lack of publishability. This same special collection, therefore, also explicitly invites replication studies and encourages comprehensive reporting of successes and failures to foster insight on the conditions under which phenomena can be observed. 

Accepted papers are eligible to receive a $5,000 award and coverage of article processing charges.


New, proposed, highly-powered replications of important results in influenza research


Authors can propose to conduct highly-powered replications of existing influenza findings to improve credibility and verifiability of existing claims. Proposals will be reviewed as Registered Reports by PLOS ONE and PLOS Biology prior to conducting the research. Successful Stage 1 peer review concludes with provisional acceptance of the research for publication, preregistration of the experiment(s) and analysis plan(s), and a funding award. Stage 2 peer review after the research is completed assesses only adherence to the accepted protocol and analysis plan and appropriate calibration of the conclusions.  

Successful Stage 1 proposals are eligible for up to $25,000 awards to conduct the research and coverage of article processing fees.


Whichever submission type is selected, the primary focus of the work must be related to influenza, though the specific discipline or methodology may be biomedical, behavioral, epidemiological, or interdisciplinary. 


A submission starts with a pre-submission inquiry to COS to confirm eligibility.  Only inquiries that confirm eligibility with COS will be eligible for an award. All full submissions are peer reviewed at PLOS One and published by the Public Library of Science.


Qualifying proposals are eligible to receive financial awards from Flu Lab to support the conducting and publishing of research. The decision to fund and publish these proposals are determined by the research questions investigated and the quality of the methodology to test those questions, not the observation of positive results. 


Please see Submission Criteria for further details.


Negative and Null Results and Replication Studies


1. Researchers must submit a pre-submission inquiry through this form to confirm eligibility. Pre-submission inquiries will be reviewed by the project team at COS. In your inquiry, please include:


  • Notation of which submission option is being considered: 1) Emptying the file drawer of negative or null results, or 2) Emptying the file drawer of replication studies
  • A description of the research as an abstract in 300 words or less

The COS project team will respond within 4 business days confirming eligibility or detailing the reasons why a project would not be eligible for a financial award.

2. If the project is confirmed for eligibility, researchers then submit their full paper to PLOS ONE by 30 November, 2019.


3. Awards of $5,000 are given upon PLOS’s acceptance of final submission, no later than 30 November, 2020 or until available funding is expired. 

  • Preregistration is not required. 
  • Papers must conform with PLOS’s data sharing and other editorial policies
  • Authors will be asked to complete a brief, final report questionnaire prior to receiving funds.


New, Proposed, Highly-Powered Replication Studies


1. Researchers must submit a pre-submission inquiry to this form to confirm eligibility. Pre-submission inquiries will be reviewed by the project team at COS. In your inquiry, please include the items below. Multiple inquiries may be submitted.*

  • A description of the research as an abstract in 300 words or less 
  • A project budget (up to $25,000) and brief justification of costs
  • A justification that the study you wish to replicate would be otherwise difficult to conduct or publish otherwise

The COS project team will respond within 4 business days confirming eligibility or detailing the reasons why a project would not be eligible for a financial award. 


2. If your project is confirmed for eligibility, researchers must submit a Stage 1 Registered Report to PLOS by 30 November, 2019. Questions on completing a Registered Report can be directed to David Mellor at david@cos.io.

3. If your study is accepted by PLOS, you will then preregister your study on OSF and an initial award payment will be made. 


4. After you conduct your study, final results must be submitted to PLOS who conducts the Stage 2 review. Additionally, a final report must be submitted to COS. Upon receipt of both the final submission and the final report, you will receive the remainder of your study award. 


*No individual may receive more than one award from each of the three submission types (null results, file drawer replications, or new replications). Members of the same lab or co-authors on accepted papers do not count toward this limit.


Questions? Please contact flulab@cos.io for assistance with assessing whether your project idea is suitable for consideration, or for instructions about how to prepare a proposal that will be eligible for a financial award.

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