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Almost a decade ago, at Arnold Ventures — a US$2-billion philanthropic organization in Houston, Texas — we realized that using evidence to direct our giving required having more confidence in the evidence itself. As vice-president of research, I found myself deep in efforts to improve science, dispersing more than $60 million in grants to make sure researchers can build on others’ results. I was part of the discussions that led to widely adopted guidelines promoting transparency and openness, the clinical-trial repository Vivli and the launch of the Center for Open Science, a non-profit organization in Charlottesville, Virginia.