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Open Science by Design

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Open Science by Design

A recent report argues that more open-sourced projects in the STEM arena would have a positive effect with additional collaborators.

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Open science is a topic I've covered numerous times on this blog in the past, and there is a growing acceptance of it in government circles. The EU has produced a number of reports on the topic, and a recent paper by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine adds the United States to the mix. The authors believe that open science should be a fundamental part of any researchers work.

"Making research results openly available is not an afterthought when the project is over, but, rather, it is an effective way of doing the research itself. That is, in this way of doing science, making research results open is a by-product of the research process, and not a task that needs to be done when the researcher has already turned to the next project," they say.

Connected Science

The report begins by highlighting the value open science brings in terms of transparency, reliability and the support for collaboration and, subsequently, discovery itself. The reliability issue is particularly important at a time when there are numerous concerns around replicability of research.

They also believe that open science helps to extract greater value from research by allowing data to be reused rather than duplicated. This openness allows for research to become much more collaborative, with researchers from various disciplines working together on a challenge.

"Increasingly, addressing complex problems of interest in science and society requires a multitude of methods and scientific results from different communities. This interdisciplinary work will be greatly aided by open, searchable, digital results that are made more available across communities," the authors say.

To achieve this will require robust data governance, however, and the report recommends data management be Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR). It will also require growth in investment in infrastructure to enable data sharing, but the authors are confident that the investment will yield strong returns.

Culture Change

Suffice to say, opening up science will be a gradual process of culture change, with numerous barriers to adoption to overcome, not least of which are the researcher incentives that can work against open science. Rewards at the moment don't really incentivize open working, and this will continue to drag down progress until it's rectified.

"Universities and other research institutions should move toward evaluating published data and other research products in addition to published articles as part of the promotion and tenure process. Archived data should be valued, just as the publications that result from them are valued," the researchers say.

The report concludes with 5 recommendations that they believe will move things forward:

  1. Change the culture and rewards of research so that open science is supported.
  2. Provide training for students and researchers.
  3. Policies developed by funders and research institutions on things such as data governance.
  4. Provide the infrastructure to allow research to be archived.
  5. Support better collaboration between researchers and other stakeholders.
open science ,science ,open data ,stem ,collaboration ,open source

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