Open Science in the scientific community
According to e-learning platform Foster, Open Science (OS) can be defined as “the practice of science in such a way that others can collaborate and contribute, where research data, lab notes and other research processes are freely available, under terms that enable reuse, redistribution and reproduction of the research and its underlying data and methods".
A shorter, integrated definition was developed by Vicente-Saez and Martinez-Fuentes (2018), based on a systemic literature review. According to this, "Open Science is transparent and accessible knowledge that is shared and developed through collaborative networks". Keeping this in mind, we would like to provide a deeper look into this emerging tendency, starting from the roots: first, we will provide a brief historical background, then we will talk about domains of open science, as well as its general benefits and perils; finally, we will conclude in giving an overview about our OA practice here at AKJournals.
What brought Open Science to life?
Today, we can talk about a rapidly growing movement of OS, which promotes the practice at institutionalized levels. However, despite its recent rise, the roots of OS go far back in time. As Hanwell at Opensource put it, "open science arguably began in the 1600s with the advent of the scientific journal, and the practice of repeating the experiments submitted in the scholarly articles. These journals would be printed, and distributed around the world, often overseen by learned societies such as the Royal Society.” So, what we can see, is that the notion of openness, a key feature of scientific research, traces back to the structural changes of financing and patronage during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. This period saw a major shift from the preceding norm of „secrecy” to a new approach, that is, the „rapid disclosure of knowledge” (David, 2008).
Thus, according to Bartling and Friesike (2014) the first revolution of science brought along:
- the professionalisation of research
- the formation of currently known disciplines
- the spread of academic journals
- incentives of successful research, based on publications
whereas, the second revolution of science, which can be marked by widespread Internet usage and the growth of online dissemination, has opened up new channels for alternative publication practices, e.g. preprints, microblogs, blogs, wiki pages, social media, living reviews, etc. This allows the publication of the followings:
- unfinalized or incomplete results, giving way to seminal discussions and more collaborative research, both accelerating discoveries and helping to confine research and publication fraud
- negative results, preventing others from the same misconducts, pitfalls or dead-ends
- large datasets that both help the reproduction of the conclusions and possible usage of the same data by other researchers for different purpose.
Domains of Open Science
So, what are some key tools of OS today? Below we list the most important domains of OS and give a basic understanding of each.
Open Access (OA) practices have one main goal: to allow access to articles to the scientific community widely and free of charge. The Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) declares that open access means "free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself.” BOAI also states that copyright, instead of limiting reproduction or distribution, should provide author integrity and acknowledgement.
The legal framework of OA is generally provided by the Creative Commons License (CC), which determines that both access and distribution is accessible for free. Thanks to the spread of Open Science, there are more and more fully open access journals, as well as ones that offer a certain amount open access articles.
According to Open Definition, “open data is data that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone - subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and share alike”. The Open Data Handbook further details this by outlining the most important aspects, which are 1. availability and access (meaning that the data needs to be downloadable and available in a „convenient and modifiable form”); 2. permission to re-use and redistribute, plus the possibility to intermix with other sets; and 3. a universal and inclusive participation policy, which aim to avoid discrimination.
Open metrics aim to provide alternatives to the one-sided approach based on citation metrics such as impact factor and h-index. In other words, the goal is to avoid limiting scholarly production to only measuring the establishment level of journals, or the times articles or the authors themselves were cited. Such factors may bring unsatisfying information regarding the impact that a work actually has within the given scientific community (especially considering non-English speaking and/or non-Western communities), and overall, there is a risk that they may result in favouring quantity over quality. (Pourret et. al, 2022.)
Open peer review
The peer review can be made open on several levels. On one hand, it can mean that, in contrast to anonymous peer review, the authors and the reviewers are identified throughout the review process. In other cases, the reviews are also published along with the paper (with or without disclosing the identity of the reviewer). However, the most exciting scenario is, perhaps, when a publicly available preprint is discussed by voluntary members of the scientific community, and the journal’s decision about acceptance or rejection is based on the conclusions of this discussion. This latter practice also promotes broader inclusivity, since anyone from the research community is free to contribute, unlike in the case of invited reviewers.(Ross-Hellauer, 2017)
Open science tools
Digital open science tools are highly important in the OS movement, as they accumulate, archive, and disseminate scientific data, as well as research outcomes. (Bezudienhout, 2021) According to Open Economics Guide, different fields of use include e.g. planning, searching, analyzing, writing, collaborating, and publishing tools.
Benefits and perils of open science
According to UNESCO’s Recommendation on Open Science (2021), the following values and principles are commonly served in cases of best practices:
- quality and integrity
- collective benefit
- equality and fairness
- transparency, scrutiny, critique, and reproducibility
- equality of opportunities
- responsibility, respect, and accountability
- collaboration, participation, and inclusion
However, especially due to the widespread digital distribution and the growing social media representation of science and academics today, there are also a number of perils to consider when it comes to openness, especially brought along by open publications of preprints. We have collected some of the risks below:
- quality and trustworthiness of non-traditional sources
- reliability and credibility of non-traditional metrics
- risks of abusing scientific results and/or inappropriate use, e.g. raising concerns regarding biosecurity (Smith & Sandbrick, 2022)
- difficulty in navigating through increased amount of daily received content
- risks of “radically collaborative science“; (Mirowski, 2018)
- the threat of policy alienation, which, based on findings by Tummers et. al (2012), according to Lilja (2021) “develops as policies become detached from the specific context they are designed to influence. For OS policies this seems to occur as openness is governed less by the localised principles of trust and gifting, and instead through generalised principles of economic value.”
Open science at AKJournals
To conclude, open science has a remarkable history, which goes hand in hand with waves of modern time science revolutions. Today, open access exponentially grows in scholarly publishing, which has considerable advantages besides possible misconducts, even perils. Here at AKJournals, supporting OS and promoting open access content is among our core values, as we highly believe in the importance of a growing public access to scientific publications, as well as a more just dissemination and recognition of scientific research. Here at our blog, we have recently talked at length about different types of open access, including gold open access and green open access practices, as well the risks predatory publishing.
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