How open science is fixing the research culture

How open science is fixing the research culture

How open science is fixing the research culture

Open science

Open science is a data dissemination model through open access, open data, and open source via online and digital platforms. It is making research available and accessible to all levels of an enquiring society, especially academia and the scholarly community. Open science works through online dissemination of scientific knowledge using articles as the primary unit of data sharing by modeling an open network for collaborative work and research with the purpose of fast-tracking the development of research and science. It is not only about making research and scientific publication available and reusable via open access, but also about making research data open by following FAIR principles: Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable. Open science also refers to being transparent about the process and methods of research.

The goal of open science is to allow scholars, researchers, and scientists to use and reuse results from a research and scientific document. This can be done before, during, or after the research process and publication. The purpose of this model is to make research visible from the very beginning and help expose research work to create value among the scholarly community. This is done so that the researcher, the professional and scientific community, companies, and society can benefit from it, by giving others the opportunity to respond to the results and using their feedback to develop and improve the research and create more authoritative work.

What is open about open science?

Open science is modeled through incorporating open access, open data, open metrics and impact, open source, open repositories, open lab journals and notebooks, etc.

The importance of open science through the four R’s of open science

1. Reliable: It is important to evaluate research in two ways. First, with respect to scientific principles and criteria, like validity. Second, with respect to criteria out of professional context, which will help ensure that the research results are more reliable.

2. Reproducible: Transparency is critical when doing research. Open science allows researchers to clearly show the research steps and measures to get the results in hand. Being open about the methods, processes, and decision making during research facilitates someone else continuing with the same research, and possibly obtaining the same results while incorporating the same steps.

3. Reusable: By making research results reusable, you allow others to build upon the solid foundation your research has created in a given subject.

4. Relevant: Research quality describes the measurable influence of academic research on the academic community. Research impact includes environmental, cultural, and societal impact, as well as economic returns and societal benefits.

A researcher or scholar can contact the library, available institutional research support team, a corporate copyright information point, or a research data management office. There are also national initiatives that can provide support to a researcher or team, with technical and complex questions. The NAI-hbo, the LCRDM, and SURF are some of the most popular support agencies/organizations that help researchers and their teams regarding complex questions. However, these are all Dutch initiatives, but other countries have equivalent organizations that are willing to provide help and support. In addition, follow the FAIR principles, be transparent, stick with the four R’s of open science, and engage with other experts from the field.

Open science is fixing the research culture

Scientific discovery has been the basis for revolutionizing the world for centuries. At its most basic level, science has helped the world to understand nature and environment as well as human and animal behavior. Science has brought forth the development of the industrial age and made possible the development of modern technology. Science has played a crucial, especially in the fight against diseases, through revolutionizing the medical industry. Without the advancements and knowledge made possible through scientific discovery, civilization would probably stagnate and new discoveries might have a remote chance.

The scientific process can be an arduous task. Scientists must carry out complex studies and experiments to formulate hypotheses to be tested, conduct rigorous experiments, and ensure reproducibility and results. Scientists have undertaken this challenge for the sake of discovery and for the reward of contributing to society through knowledge generation. Initially, scientific knowledge and data have been made available in the form of research publications, and scientists were primarily evaluated on the basis of these publications; the number and impact of their publications affect their career advancements, their success, securing funding and tenure, and can even affect their future publications and research credibility. Science is highly competitive, because not all research results have the same opportunity to be published. Scientific journals take pride in advancing their specific scientific discipline, so they strive to publish only the most novel and exciting research findings and results. This preference has given scientists the incentive to undertake research that will be considered novel and exciting. Often, scientific experiments could be well designed and executed, but a many demonstrate negative results. For example, if we hypothesize that the taking of probiotics would reduce the side effects of chemotherapy through a well-controlled animal study and experiment, demonstrating the side effects of chemotherapy in mice and probiotic-treated group were no different than in the untreated group, then this would be a negative result.

Negative results as such could be very informative in determining and debunking unproven theories and scientific beliefs and would contribute to the collective knowledge base, but may not be novel and exciting enough to draw audiences to read. Such research articles and knowledge data often go unpublished. On the flip side, not all new and exciting findings are based on well-designed experiments, so published research has the chance to be negative. In most cases, this is not because scientists have set out to perform a misconduct or bad scientific practice, or headline fabricated results drawn from negative results. In fact, there are serious negative consequences for scientists in their careers if found engaging in research misconducts, and such consequences deter research misconducts. The false results are a consequence of the current publication system and misaligned incentives.  For example, rather than investing time and resources to fund one large, carefully executed study that might have probabilities of producing negative results, a scientist may divide his or her efforts across multiple low- powered studies to increase the chance of producing a positive result with less or insignificant loss or consequence. Although a positive result occurred in a small study, that same result might not be reproducible if the experiment were to be conducted again with a larger number of participants.

Furthermore, these findings may never be challenged again, as journals are seldom interested in publishing repeat findings. Hence, scientists often avoid undertaking experiments that directly replicate another scientist’s work. As a result, there are many published findings that turn out to be inconsistent, in which case the public could lose their trust in science and scientists.

The current publishing system with its tendency to focusing on publishing the most novel and exciting results may be severely hampering the advancement of science. To address this concern, the center for open science was founded in 2013, to ensure the central values of the scientific process, openness, integrity, and reproducibility – are aligned with daily scientific practices framing a motivating research culture.

How can open science be achieved?

1. Open science journals: Scholarly journals have been the primary contributor in the dissemination of scientific research data. Earlier, scholarly journals were mostly closed access, but with time scholarly journals have evolved and shifted to open access, which has led to the acceleration of scientific research through creating greater possibilities of collaborative research and studies. For example, open life sciences is the largest and most widely practiced subject in open science. Open science grid consortium, founded in 2004, is an organization that manages a worldwide grid of technological resources called open science grid, which facilitates distributed computing for scientific research. With open access already being an integral part of the data-sharing infrastructure, open science framework (OSF) and systems can easily be incorporated. Open science journals can serve as a rostrum for experts and the scientific community to come together for advancing science and experiment through open source and open data sharing.

2. Open science collaboration: Open science collaboration (OSC) can only be achieved through open science that operates through OSF. OSC is the primary model for open science that aims at creating greater and higher possibilities for collaborative experiments and research work for experts and professionals from the same field through collaborative open science projects. Open science projects require organizational responsibility that can be monitored and directed by a project coordinator necessary for project development and management.

3. Open science framework: An OSF based on data sharing will allow scientists to post their current work and also stay up to date in their field without having to rely on publishing industry. This means scientists will be motivated to design studies based on their curiosity, rather than based on potential acceptance from publishers. Scientists can be judged based on their work and their contribution to the field without complete reliance on formal publications.


By reducing the importance of publication as a primary motivator in conducting experiments and creating a framework (open science framework) for open science, we will ensure a sound future for the creation of knowledge.

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