How Do Scientists Define Openness? Exploring the Relationship Between Open Science Policies and Research Practice

Authors : Nadine Levin, Sabina Leonelli, Dagmara Weckowska, David Castle, John Dupré

This article documents how biomedical researchers in the United Kingdom understand and enact the idea of “openness.”

This is of particular interest to researchers and science policy worldwide in view of the recent adoption of pioneering policies on Open Science and Open Access by the U.K. government—policies whose impact on and implications for research practice are in need of urgent evaluation, so as to decide on their eventual implementation elsewhere.

This study is based on 22 in-depth interviews with U.K. researchers in systems biology, synthetic biology, and bioinformatics, which were conducted between September 2013 and February 2014.

Through an analysis of the interview transcripts, we identify seven core themes that characterize researchers’ understanding of openness in science and nine factors that shape the practice of openness in research.

Our findings highlight the implications that Open Science policies can have for research processes and outcomes and provide recommendations for enhancing their content, effectiveness, and implementation.

URL : How Do Scientists Define Openness? Exploring the Relationship Between Open Science Policies and Research Practice

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Research Data Sharing and Reuse Practices of Academic Faculty Researchers: A Study of the Virginia Tech Data Landscape

Author : Yi Shen

This paper presents the results of a research data assessment and landscape study in the institutional context of Virginia Tech to determine the data sharing and reuse practices of academic faculty researchers.

Through mapping the level of user engagement in “openness of data,” “openness of methodologies and workflows,” and “reuse of existing data,” this study contributes to the current knowledge in data sharing and open access, and supports the strategic development of institutional data stewardship.

Asking faculty researchers to self-reflect sharing and reuse from both data producers’ and data users’ perspectives, the study reveals a significant gap between the rather limited sharing activities and the highly perceived reuse or repurpose values regarding data, indicating that potential values of data for future research are lost right after the original work is done.

The localized and sporadic data management and documentation practices of researchers also contribute to the obstacles they themselves often encounter when reusing existing data.

URL : Research Data Sharing and Reuse Practices of Academic Faculty Researchers: A Study of the Virginia Tech Data Landscape

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The Peer Reviewers’ Openness Initiative: incentivizing open research practices through peer review

Openness is one of the central values of science. Open scientific practices such as sharing data, materials and analysis scripts alongside published articles have many benefits, including easier replication and extension studies, increased availability of data for theory-building and meta-analysis, and increased possibility of review and collaboration even after a paper has been published. Although modern information technology makes sharing easier than ever before, uptake of open practices had been slow. We suggest this might be in part due to a social dilemma arising from misaligned incentives and propose a specific, concrete mechanism—reviewers withholding comprehensive review—to achieve the goal of creating the expectation of open practices as a matter of scientific principle.

URL : The Peer Reviewers’ Openness Initiative: incentivizing open research practices through peer review

DOI: 10.1098/rsos.150547

Beyond Open Access to Open Publication and Open Scholarship

This article explores a moment of opportunity to imagine a new humanities scholarship based on radical openness, beyond the level of access to scholarly content that the open access movement has so far championed, to a culture of transformation that can actively include the public(s) beyond the community of scholars. The possibilities for enhancing scholarly and research practices are intriguing, but even greater may be the generative opportunity to engage audiences beyond the scholarly community – particularly online, where the humanities connects to broader cultural currents.

URL : Beyond Open Access to Open Publication and Open Scholarship

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A Case Study of Scholars’ Open and Sharing Practices

Although the open scholarship movement has successfully captured the attention and interest of higher education stakeholders, researchers currently lack an understanding of the degree to which open scholarship is enacted in institutions that lack institutional support for openness. I help fill this gap in the literature by presenting a descriptive case study that illustrates the variety of open and sharing practices enacted by faculty members at a North American university. Open and sharing practices enacted at this institution revolve around publishing manuscripts in open ways, participating on social media, creating and using open educational resources, and engaging with open teaching.

This examination finds that certain open practices are favored over others. Results also show that even though faculty members often share scholarly materials online for free, they frequently do so without associated open licenses (i.e. without engaging in open practices). These findings suggest that individual motivators may significantly affect the practice of openness, but that environmental factors (e.g., institutional contexts) and technological elements (e.g., YouTube’s default settings) may also shape open practices in unanticipated ways.

URL : A Case Study of Scholars’ Open and Sharing Practices

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The Users of Library Publishing Services: Readers and Access Beyond Open

« This article analyzes the discourse of library publishing, examining how the needs of library users have (or haven’t) been framed as core concerns in key collaborative documents from the 2007 Ithaka Report to the 2014 Library Publishing Directory. Access issues, including not only open access but format options, usability, accessibility, and general user experience, have most often been absent or sidelined in this discourse. Even open access has been less central than one might expect. Moreover, even in later documents where it is more commonly trumpeted as a value of libraries, open access is often not presented as a service to readers but to authors.

For these reasons, I argue the promotion of library publishing has missed a key opportunity to promote such services as offering a holistic approach that incorporates the needs of both authors and readers by drawing on the history of user studies in libraries. The absence of the user as information seeker, and especially reader, in this discourse should concern libraries lest library publishing services replicate existing access problems with commercial publishers beyond the question of openness. The opportunity exists for organizations such as the Library Publishing Coalition to foster discussion of reader needs for digital formats and, where feasible, promote a set of best practices. »


The Tao of Open Science for Ecology

« The field of ecology is poised to take advantage of emerging technologies that facilitate the gathering, analyzing, and sharing of data, methods, and results. The concept of transparency at all stages of the research process, coupled with free and open access to data, code, and papers, constitutes « open science. » Despite the many benefits of an open approach to science, a number of barriers to entry exist that may prevent researchers from embracing openness in their own work. Here we describe several key shifts in mindset that underpin the transition to more open science. These shifts in mindset include thinking about data stewardship rather than data ownership, embracing transparency throughout the data life-cycle and project duration, and accepting critique in public. Though foreign and perhaps frightening at first, these changes in thinking stand to benefit the field of ecology by fostering collegiality and broadening access to data and findings. We present an overview of tools and best practices that can enable these shifts in mindset at each stage of the research process, including tools to support data management planning and reproducible analyses, strategies for soliciting constructive feedback throughout the research process, and methods of broadening access to final research products. »

URL : The Tao of Open Science for Ecology