The impact of COVID-19 on the debate on open science: An analysis of expert opinion

Auteurs/Authors : Melanie Benson Marshall,  Stephen Pinfield, Pamela Abbott, Andrew Cox, Juan Pablo Alperin,  Natascha Chtena, Isabelle Dorsch, Alice Fleerackers, Monique Oliveira,
Isabella Peters

This study is an analysis of the international debate on open science that took place during the pandemic. It addresses the question, how did the COVID-19 pandemic impact the debate on open science?

The study takes the form of a qualitative analysis of a large corpus of key articles, editorials, blogs and thought pieces about the impact of COVID on open science, published during the pandemic in English, German, Portuguese, and Spanish.

The findings show that many authors believed that it was clear that the experience of the pandemic had illustrated or strengthened the case for open science, with language such as a “stress test”, “catalyst”, “revolution” or “tipping point” frequently used. It was commonly believed that open science had played a positive role in the response to the pandemic, creating a clear ‘line of sight’ between open science and societal benefits.

Whilst the arguments about open science deployed in the debate were not substantially new, the focuses of debate changed in some key respects. There was much less attention given to business models for open access and critical perspectives on open science, but open data sharing, preprinting, information quality and misinformation became most prominent in debates. There were also moves to reframe open science conceptually, particularly in connecting science with society and addressing broader questions of equity.

The impact of COVID-19 on the debate on open science: An analysis of expert opinion


The neglect of equity and inclusion in open science policies of Europe and the Americas

Authors : Natascha Chtena, Juan Pablo Alperin, Esteban Morales, Alice Fleerackers, Isabelle Dorsch, Stephen Pinfield, Marc-André Simard

National, international, and organizational Open Science (OS) policies are being formulated to improve and accelerate research through increased transparency, collaboration, and better access to scientific knowledge.

Yet, there is mounting concern that OS policies—which are predicated on narrow understandings of openness, accessibility, and objectivity—do not effectively capture the ethos of OS and particularly its goal of making science more collaborative, inclusive, and socially engaged.

This study explores how OS is conceptualized in emerging OS policies and to what extent notions of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) and public participation are reflected in policy guidelines and recommendations. We use a qualitative document research approach to critically analyze 52 OS policy documents published between January 2020 and December 2022 in Europe and the Americas.

Our results show that OS policies overwhelmingly focus on making research outputs publicly accessible, neglecting to advance the two aspects of OS that hold the key to achieving an inclusive and inclusive scientific culture—namely, EDI and public participation. While these concepts are often mentioned and even embraced in OS policy documents, concrete guidance on how they can be promoted in practice is overwhelmingly lacking.

Rather than advancing the openness of scientific findings first and promoting EDI and public participation efforts second, we argue that incentives and guidelines must be provided and implemented concurrently to advance the OS movement’s stated goal of making science open to all.

URL : The neglect of equity and inclusion in open science policies of Europe and the Americas


Do researchers know what the h-index is? And how do they estimate its importance?

Authors : Pantea Kamrani, Isabelle Dorsch, Wolfgang G. Stock

The h-index is a widely used scientometric indicator on the researcher level working with a simple combination of publication and citation counts. In this article, we pursue two goals, namely the collection of empirical data about researchers’ personal estimations of the importance of the h-index for themselves as well as for their academic disciplines, and on the researchers’ concrete knowledge on the h-index and the way of its calculation.

We worked with an online survey (including a knowledge test on the calculation of the h-index), which was finished by 1081 German university professors. We distinguished between the results for all participants, and, additionally, the results by gender, generation, and field of knowledge.

We found a clear binary division between the academic knowledge fields: For the sciences and medicine the h-index is important for the researchers themselves and for their disciplines, while for the humanities and social sciences, economics, and law the h-index is considerably less important.

Two fifths of the professors do not know details on the h-index or wrongly deem to know what the h-index is and failed our test. The researchers’ knowledge on the h-index is much smaller in the academic branches of the humanities and the social sciences.

As the h-index is important for many researchers and as not all researchers are very knowledgeable about this author-specific indicator, it seems to be necessary to make researchers more aware of scholarly metrics literacy.

URL : Do researchers know what the h-index is? And how do they estimate its importance?