Dr Danny Kingsley (Cambridge University Libraries), Professor Christopher Jackson (Imperial College London), and Professor Eva Méndez (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid and the European Commission’s Open Science Policy Platform) recently joined OASPA for a webinar to discuss open science. Catriona MacCallum (Hindawi) chaired the discussion. The Copyright Clearance Center web-hosted the webinar. Leyla Williams, Events and Communications Coordinator at OASPA, reflects on the discussion.
In the second webinar of our new Open Science Webinar Series, in which we are inviting a number of prominent speakers to consider contemporary debates in open science and open access publishing, we were thrilled to welcome Dr Danny Kingsley, Professor Christopher Jackson, and Professor Eva Méndez to consider how open science can be conceptualised, how it relates to open access and publishing, and the roles they and publishers have in the shift towards open science. We were lucky to have three clearly contrasting perspectives: one from an institutional outreach and policy research communication angle (Danny), one from a researcher (Christopher), and one from the European Open Science Policy Platform (Eva).
Danny opened the webinar by arguing that irrespective of teaching or research quality within academia, the only thing that seems to count in research is the publication of novel results in high-impact journals. This, she explained, has contributed to cultural problems in academia of ‘star researchers’ and imbalances of power within the academy, but when it comes to science in particular, further challenges arise in the publication of these of research outputs in the way of reproducibility, integrity, replicability, and irreproducibility. Open science, she continued, offers researchers the chance to be rewarded for their research outputs at any stage of the research cycle, including the data on which publications are based.
In order for open science to be embraced, though, institutions must play along; Danny’s own university, the University of Cambridge, launched a pilot in which researchers and librarians work together ‘completely openly’ on open science initiatives, and after consulting the research community they found that the benefits of open research are not always obvious, and rarely rewarded. Moving to a culture of open research, concluded Danny, requires a robust infrastructure in place within the institution to support moves towards openness.
Chris, a geologist working at Imperial College London and a passionate advocate of open science, began by pointing out the reasons why scientists might want to make their research open access: to improve their ‘H-indexes’ (one of the metrics scientists are measured by); to signal to their community that they’re engaged with their research enough to promote it; and to be innovative into the future. But the fear for many scientific researchers, he explained, is that not enough of one’s peers are engaged in open access; that one will experience a ‘time sink’ in learning all the relevant infrastructure and language necessary to actually publish research open access; that publishing open access will be too expensive not just in the Global South, but in some parts of the Global North too; and that being measured for one’s ‘openness’ isn’t yet appropriate for a CV entry. Not all funders of the academy, he continued, have a moral obligation when it comes to funding research. Large corporations, he argued, are unlikely to pay extra open access costs. Practical solutions to make research more open, Chris argued, may lie in opportunities to publish preprints – including his own collaborative efforts on EarthArXiv – to demonstrate how research is conducted, and the life it has had prior to final publication.
Finally, Eva spoke from a range of her different ‘hats’ as a librarian, researcher, and policy-maker to illustrate her analogy of open science behaving as a ‘mushroom’ rather than an ‘umbrella’: research integrity, research infrastructures, the academic reward system, and altmetrics comprise the roots of open science, all which lay the foundation for the movements of open access, open data, and open peer review. The Open Science Policy Platform, which Eva works on, is working to systematically change science by asking researchers, librarians, and anyone else working within the research process to ask themselves what they can do for open science. Eva called for ‘cool metadata’: for metadata to be open and accessible in order that it can work to establish relationships between users and outcomes of research, rather than to exist simply for information retrieval.
Moving into the Q&A, many of the questions to the panel centred around Plan S. Chris remarked that Plan S has done much to get researchers talking about open science recently, but pointed out that there is still a large proportion of the research community who are unaware of Plan S and open science more generally. Eva spoke to Plan S as being a partial solution to open access; a reward system would need to be attached to the initiative in order to truly transform academia and progress open access, she argued. Danny reflected that in the UK open access feels somewhat like a compliance issue rather than a movement, and that we need to stop getting stuck on details and technicalities and get on with advocating for openness.
The recording of this webinar, along with the accompanying slides from the discussion, is freely available for the public and can be found here.