Deep into the heart of open science

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The AAAS Annual Meeting takes place in Austin from 15 to 19 February and F1000 will be there. We will try to get to the heart of open science while deep in the heart of Texas. The practice of open science is 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.”

Various facets of open science, such as open access publishing, open data, open peer review and preprints, have been seen by many as a means of speeding up discoveries and helping to create collaborations. By making data open it is possible for others to build upon or reproduce your work, immediate publication models means results can get out there sooner, and transparent peer review gives a clearer perspective on an article. There are still some challenges that open science needs to overcome: concerns about being scooped, how do we mange volumes of data, and how do we ensure open science is equitable? These topics and others we will delve into during the session Exploring Perspectives on Open Science and Impacts on Scientific Discovery. If you are attending the AAAS Annual Meeting, we hope you can come along on 1:30pm to 3:00pm in Room 12B in the Austin Convention Centre.

I will be moderating this session and the panel will include perspectives from a researcher, Charles Lin, Baylor College of Medicine; a funder, Ashley Farley, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and a publisher, Sabina Alam, F1000. To give you a taster of what this panel will cover I asked each of the panellists:

What do you think is the most important impact open science could have on scientific research?

 

Charles Lin, Assistant Professor, Baylor College of Medicine

Open science accelerates discovery, full stop. When anyone in the lab can obtain datasets, protocols, code, and reagents without barriers, then the flow of ideas quickens, connections are made, and hypotheses can be rigorously tested. Academic science is supposed to be inherently ‘open’, but there is a huge difference between asking your PI and institution to slog through a restrictive material transfer agreement versus a graduate student sending an email and receiving a compound in the mail with a transparent material transfer agreement. There is a huge difference between poorly commented code that cannot be installed versus community developed software that is extensively tested. In both cases, the latter, better model of open science takes more effort from scientists, but ultimately gets the experiment done.

 

Ashley Farley, Associate Officer – Knowledge and Research Services, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The most important impact of open research to me is, science done right. Somehow over time what makes science strong: collaboration, replicating experiments, sharing null results, and other practices that support reproducibility, have been lost. Improving the research process can result in the rapid and free exchange of ideas to move humanity forward, accelerate discovery, and reduce information-sharing gaps that may cost lives.

 

Sabina Alam, Editorial Director, F1000 Platforms

Dissemination of scientific research can’t be considered as truly ‘open’ without a transparent peer review and publishing process in place. Researchers do the work, reviewers assess the validity and the wider research community verifies, builds upon and advances the research. For this reason, all relevant information about the research, including the underlying data and analysis, and decision to publish should be available to the wider research community, creating a persistent culture of sharing knowledge in a truly open way.

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