With many firms and institutions committing to open source their discoveries, one would wonder why other scientists have not done the same—making their papers and data part of the public domain.

Maybe they just need some badges.

The results of a 17-month experiment by the journal Psychological Science confirmed that awarding colorful badges helps as an incentive to get scientists to publicly share the data behind their research.

Open Science Collaboration/CC BY 4.0

Back in 2014, the journal announced that it would be awarding little orange and blue badges to papers that made relevant data or research materials publicly available. The Center for Open Science (CoS) checked the claims of availability of each paper in the journal, and compared the number with those of four other journals.

While the other psychology journals remained at below 10% of all articles being publicly available, the proportion for Psychological Science shot up to around 40% during the same period.

While the badges may not be the only reason for the increase, they certainly played an important part. Besides Psychological Science, nine other journals are joining the bandwagon and are implementing badges for their papers, says Nature.

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