What is Open Science?
Open Science (OS) involves open access to publications and scientific infrastructures/data/software/methods, educational resources, but also open evaluation and citizen science. Where feasible, OS enables the acceleration of scientific research (see the international response to the COVID-19 crisis) bringing added inclusiveness and accessibility for the scientific community, for socio-economic or socio-cultural actors, and citizens alike.
How does it work?
Any effort to streamline access to scientific results at any level (generating data/procedures/methods, adding them to public domain, accessing and processing them up to intermediate and final results, including publication, recruiting and involving general public in the data creation/gathering effort, opening communication to the widest possible audience including through open courses and conferences) can be considered as part of OS. Each of these components requires complex efforts and resources, including dedicated infrastructure.
Adding primary scientific research data to the public domain requires dedicated platforms. External repositories (databases) can be used, but some institutions also choose to create their own. There are two major challenges: (1) for these repositories to withstand the test of time (mainly surviving administrative and funding cycles) and (2) for the data to be in an easily accessible format. With the latter issue in mind, the concept of FAIR data – findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable – has been defined. According to it, the data must be easily findable by those interested, easily accessible, provided in as unified and compatible a format as possible (interoperable), and reusable by anyone (which includes keeping intellectual property claims to a minimum). A particular subcategory of this area is databases and bibliographic reference management software, especially those adapted to the new data sharing models.
Adding software packages to the public domain has long been an established practice.
Open access publication of results has also been common practice for a long time, although it remains far from being a uniform proceeding. Through its journals, BBU has long promoted the so-called Diamond Open Access model – where neither access to online articles nor publication is charged for. In contrast, several other Open Access publishing models include author fees and/or partially unrestricted access (either for fixed periods of time or with limitations on intellectual property). The practice of charging authors or readers is particularly controversial, especially where the quality of publications is borderline pseudoscientific or where financial arguments come under fire for taking precedence over scientific ones in the process of publication.
More recently, the idea of a new publishing model is being promoted, along the lines of a blog – where results and their interpretations are made available to the public as they are accumulated, rather than being placed in stand-alone journal articles. Whether this model is adopted or not, the central idea of Open Science is that the whole scientific research process should be as transparent as possible – from primary data collection to processing, interpretation and publication.
Open evaluation of results is a challenging concept which implies that reviewers’ comments and even their identity are kept public. While in some research areas or publication models anonymous peer review offers notable advantages, it is argued that in other contexts open evaluation can help eliminate borderline ethical practices and hold evaluators accountable. Such a practice could also allow fair recognition to be given for the reviewers’ work.
Citizen Science is already operational in areas where it is important to collect large volumes of data from different locations/contexts, or to pool computing resources distributed in different locations. In some areas (e.g., public policy) citizen participation can go beyond data collection, towards decisions about data management and use, including in terms of public policy based on it.
Open educational resources (training sessions, courses, or even full academic programs) are already established as practice – especially with increasingly complex online resources.
What’s Open Science used for?
OS promoters (among them various EU institutions, including those that fund scientific research) argue that making research results available as quickly and efficiently as possible to the academic public, but also to industry and citizens in general, can have a wide range of benefits. For example, they can make science:
- increasingly reliable, efficient and effective – by being able to check the accuracy of data and their interpretation more quickly and reliably;
- increasingly efficient – by avoiding redundant efforts to carry out similar research, or by making collaboration more accessible to a wider range of researchers;
- increasingly responsive to the societal demands of citizens, as science can become more transparent and open;
- increasingly transferable from the laboratory to citizen use (via industry/business) – especially for applied research;
- increasingly credible – research integrity is more effectively seen in an open and transparent environment; increasingly representative / inclusive;
- increasingly global, allowing scientists to share knowledge and data in advance of publication, science to progress at a faster pace, and innovations to become accessible more quickly.
The example most often cited is that of the international community’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, where making data and publications available to the whole community or even the whole public facilitated the adaptation of society’s response on a more solid scientific basis and allowed the accelerated development of response solutions – such as treatment protocols, drugs, vaccines.
What’s Open Science not used for?
There are, of course, areas in which the OS remains far from applicable. Such cases include security-related research, prevention of terrorism, etc. There may also be situations where the relevance of OS is overestimated with harmful effects on the quality of research, its assessment, and the associated value scales. The risk that scientific publishing turns into a popularity contest in which “fans” and publicity weight heavier than the scientific added value of the contributions is often reported. At BBU, such issues are a constant concern – expressed also within and with the support/consensus of the organizations to which the University is part of, such as The Guild or EUTOPIA.
National and international context, additional resources
Open Science at the ERC https://erc.europa.eu/managing-your-project/open-science
Open Science at ScienceEurope, the organization of European RDI funding agencies https://scienceeurope.org/our-priorities/open-access/
European Open Science Cloud portal https://eosc-portal.eu/
Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics https://scoap3.org/
Digital Scholarship Centre at the University of Oslo https://www.ub.uio.no/english/libraries/dsc/index.html
Science Media Centre (UK): https://www.sciencemediacentre.org/about-us/
FAIR data entry: https://fairsfair.gitbook.io/fair-teaching-handbook/
FAIR data manual: https://univerlag.uni-goettingen.de/handle/3/isbn-978-3-86395-539-7
The Unpaywall Internet browser extension – automatically identifies “open” (freely accessible) copies of a scientific article online in real time: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/unpaywall/iplffkdpngmdjhlpjmppncnlhomiipha
EC Open Research Europe portal: https://open-research-europe.ec.europa.eu/
National Open Science Portal at UEFISCDI https://uefiscdi.gov.ro/open-science-hub
Romanian Open Science News Blog https://www.kosson.ro/
Bibliographic reference management software tutorials (Mendeley, Zotero, EndNote) https://biblioteca.ugal.ro/index.php/ro/cercetarea/managementul-referintelor-bibliografice