Identifying the challenges in implementing open science

Authors : Sarah E. Ali-Khan, Antoine Jean, E. Richard Gold

Areas of open science (OS) policy and practice are already relatively well-advanced in several countries and sectors through the initiatives of some governments, funders, philanthropy, researchers and the community. Nevertheless, the current research and innovation system, including in the focus of this report, the life sciences, remains weighted against OS.

In October 2017, thought-leaders from across the world gathered at an Open Science Leadership Forum in the Washington DC office of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to share their views on what successful OS looks like.

We focused on OS partnerships as this is an emerging model that aims to accelerate science and innovation. These outcomes are captured in a first meeting report: Defining Success in Open Science.

On several occasions, these conversations turned to the challenges that must be addressed and new policies required to effectively and sustainably advance OS practice.

Thereupon, in this report, we describe the concerns raised and what is needed to address them supplemented by our review of the literature, and suggest the stakeholder groups that may be best placed to begin to take action.

It emerges that to be successful, OS will require the active engagement of all stakeholders: while the research community must develop research questions, identify partners and networks, policy communities need to create an environment that is supportive of experimentation by removing barriers.

This report aims to contribute to ongoing discussions about OS and its implementation. It is also part of a step-wise process to develop and mobilize a toolkit of quantitative and qualitative indicators to assist global stakeholders in implementing high value OS collaborations.

Currently in co-development through an open and international process, this set of measures will allow the generation of needed evidence on the influence of OS partnerships on research, innovation, and critical social and economic goals.

URL : Identifying the challenges in implementing open science


The History, Advocacy and Efficacy of Data Management Plans

Authors : Nicholas Smale, Kathryn Unsworth, Gareth Denyer, Daniel Barr

Data management plans (DMPs) have increasingly been encouraged as a key component of institutional and funding body policy. Although DMPs necessarily place administrative burden on researchers, proponents claim that DMPs have myriad benefits, including enhanced research data quality, increased rates of data sharing, and institutional planning and compliance benefits.

In this manuscript, we explore the international history of DMPs and describe institutional and funding body DMP policy. We find that economic and societal benefits from presumed increased rates of data sharing was the original driver of mandating DMPs by funding bodies.

Today, 86% of UK Research Councils and 63% of US funding bodies require submission of a DMP with funding applications. Given that no major Australian funding bodies require DMP submission, it is of note that 37% of Australian universities have taken the initiative to internally mandate DMPs.

Institutions both within Australia and internationally frequently promote the professional benefits of DMP use, and endorse DMPs as ‘best practice’. We analyse one such typical DMP implementation at a major Australian institution, finding that DMPs have low levels of apparent translational value.

Indeed, an extensive literature review suggests there is very limited published systematic evidence that DMP use has any tangible benefit for researchers, institutions or funding bodies.

We are therefore led to question why DMPs have become the go-to tool for research data professionals and advocates of good data practice. By delineating multiple use-cases and highlighting the need for DMPs to be fit for intended purpose, we question the view that a good DMP is necessarily that which encompasses the entire data lifecycle of a project.

Finally, we summarise recent developments in the DMP landscape, and note a positive shift towards evidence-based research management through more researcher-centric, educative, and integrated DMP services.

URL : The History, Advocacy and Efficacy of Data Management Plans


Citizen Science: Innovation in Open Science, Society and Policy

Edited by Susanne Hecker, Muki Haklay, Anne Bowser, Zen Makuch, Johannes Vogel and Aletta Bonn

Citizen science, the active participation of the public in scientific research projects, is a rapidly expanding field in open science and open innovation. It provides an integrated model of public knowledge production and engagement with science.

As a growing worldwide phenomenon, it is invigorated by evolving new technologies that connect people easily and effectively with the scientific community.

Catalysed by citizens’ wishes to be actively involved in scientific processes, as a result of recent societal trends, it also offers contributions to the rise in tertiary education. In addition, citizen science provides a valuable tool for citizens to play a more active role in sustainable development.

Citizen Science: Innovation in Open Science, Society and Policy identifies and explains the role of citizen science within innovation in science and society, and as a vibrant and productive science-policy interface.

The scope of this volume is global, geared towards identifying solutions and lessons to be applied across science, practice and policy.

The chapters consider the role of citizen science in the context of the wider agenda of open science and open innovation, and discusses progress towards responsible research and innovation, two of the most critical aspects of science today.

URL : Citizen Science: Innovation in Open Science, Society and Policy

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Opening Science with Institutional Repository: A Case Study of Vilnius University Library

Authors : Jūratė Kuprienė, Žibutė Petrauskien

The future strategies for opening science have become important to libraries which serve scientific institutions by providing institutional repository infrastructures and services.

Vilnius University Library provides such an infrastructure for Vilnius University, which is the biggest higher education institution in Lithuania (with more than 20,200 students, 1,330 academic staff members, and 450 researchers ), and manages services and infrastructure of the national open access repository eLABa and the national open access data archive MIDAS.

As the new platforms of these repositories began operating in the beginning of 2015, new policies and routines for organizing work with scientific publications and data had to be implemented.

This meant new roles for the Library and librarians, too. The University Senate approved the new Regulations of the Library on 13 June 2017 with the task to develop the scholarly communication tools dedicated to sustaining open access to information and open science.

Thus, Vilnius University Library performs the leading role in opening science by providing strategic insights and solutions for development of services dedicated to researchers, students and the public in Lithuania.

As it was not presented properly at the international level before, this article presents the case of Vilnius University Library which actively cooperates with other Lithuanian academic institutions, works in creating and coordinating policies, conducts research on the improvements and services of eLABa and MIDAS, and suggests and implements the integral solutions for opening science.

URL : Opening Science with Institutional Repository: A Case Study of Vilnius University Library


Do funding applications where peer reviewers disagree have higher citations? A cross-sectional study

Authors : Adrian G Barnett, Scott R. Glisson, Stephen Gallo


Decisions about which applications to fund are generally based on the mean scores of a panel of peer reviewers. As well as the mean, a large disagreement between peer reviewers may also be worth considering, as it may indicate a high-risk application with a high return.


We examined the peer reviewers’ scores for 227 funded applications submitted to the American Institute of Biological Sciences between 1999 and 2006. We examined the mean score and two measures of reviewer disagreement: the standard deviation and range.

The outcome variable was the relative citation ratio, which is the number of citations from all publications associated with the application, standardised by field and publication year.


There was a clear increase in relative citations for applications with a better mean. There was no association between relative citations and either of the two measures of disagreement.


We found no evidence that reviewer disagreement was able to identify applications with a higher than average return. However, this is the first study to empirically examine this association, and it would be useful to examine whether reviewer disagreement is associated with research impact in other funding schemes and in larger sample sizes.

URL : Do funding applications where peer reviewers disagree have higher citations? A cross-sectional study


Sharing health research data – the role of funders in improving the impact

Authors : Robert F. Terry, Katherine Littler, Piero L. Olliaro

Recent public health emergencies with outbreaks of influenza, Ebola and Zika revealed that the mechanisms for sharing research data are neither being used, or adequate for the purpose, particularly where data needs to be shared rapidly.

A review of research papers, including completed clinical trials related to priority pathogens, found only 31% (98 out of 319 published papers, excluding case studies) provided access to all the data underlying the paper – 65% of these papers give no information on how to find or access the data.

Only two clinical trials out of 58 on interventions for WHO priority pathogens provided any link in their registry entry to the background data.

Interviews with researchers revealed a reluctance to share data included a lack of confidence in the utility of the data; an absence of academic-incentives for rapid dissemination that prevents subsequent publication and a disconnect between those who are collecting the data and those who wish to use it quickly.

The role of the funders of research needs to change to address this. Funders need to engage early with the researchers and related stakeholders to understand their concerns and work harder to define the more explicitly the benefits to all stakeholders.

Secondly, there needs to be a direct benefit to sharing data that is directly relevant to those people that collect and curate the data.

Thirdly more work needs to be done to realise the intent of making data sharing resources more equitable, ethical and efficient.

Finally, a checklist of the issues that need to be addressed when designing new or revising existing data sharing resources should be created. This checklist would highlight the technical, cultural and ethical issues that need to be considered and point to examples of emerging good practice that can be used to address them.

URL : Sharing health research data – the role of funders in improving the impact


Commons-Based Peer Production in the Work of Yochai Benkler

Author : Vangelis Papadimitropoulos

Yochai Benkler defines commons-based peer production as a non-market sector of information, knowledge and cultural production, which is not treated as private property but as an ethic of open sharing and co-operation, and is largely enhanced by the Internet and free/open source software.

This paper makes the case that there is a tension between Benkler’s liberal commitments and his anarchistic vision of the commons. Benkler limits the scope of commons-based peer production to the immaterial production of the digital commons, while paradoxically envisaging the control of the world economy by the commons.

This paradox reflects a deeper lacuna in his work, revealing the absence of a concrete strategy as to how the immaterial production of the digital commons can connect to material production and control the world economy.

The paper concludes with an enquiry into some of the latest efforts in the literature to fill this gap.

URL : Commons-Based Peer Production in the Work of Yochai Benkler