Open Science & Open Access

Open Science is a general term that includes Open Publication, Open Data, Open software, open peer-review and citizen science. The adoption of the Open Science paradigm is set to fundamentally reshape scientific communications, the rewarding schemes, research funding and, thus, career development.

The European Union is planning to mandate Open Science, requiring Open Access to the scientific literature produced with EU support and Open data and Open Software to the material produced in research. More countries, as Norway, are expressing interest to follow or are already implementing Open Access policies. While there is a common acceptance that Open Science is desirable, clear implementation plans are still missing. What is certain, instead, is that a new communication strategy will influence the future of scientific discussion  and, therefore, of science itself. The main actors, scientists in general, have been commonly considered as bland receivers, required to simply follow the instructions along new guidelines although they constitute the main actors that will be influenced by the new policies. The discrepancy between individuals and institutions is risking to generate severe confusion and structural barriers to the scientific communications, further aggravating the already critical situation of scientific dissemination. Ironically, the difficulty of combining the researcher perspective with policy makers is communications.

Unfortunately, the common mutual interest in Open Science contradicts the attitude of researchers. Current studies indicate that, while most researchers agree on its importance, interests do not translate to practice. A reason is that the current publishing framework indirectly penalizes researchers opting for Open Access publications. Evidence for this is found in the low amount of high-tiered Open Access journals compared to that of non-Open Access journals. Researchers are key stakeholders in scientific publishing, whose actions are also determined by publication policies, while scientific communications and publishing attitudes are determined by policies at the institutional, and international level.

The connecting point between researchers’ output and institutions is the measure that the latter adopt in evaluating researcher performance: the metrics. Currently several metrics have been proposed trying to quantify researcher performances, while the most common metrics remain the number of publications and impact factor, and/or the level of the journals that have been published in. These metrics can be considered proxies for quality and lack information about, for example, the quality of individual contributions. Such loose connection between international institutions and individual researchers can lead to ultra-inefficient approaches and unethical behaviours.

Alongside with articles and book publications, publication of research data shall be considered as scientific output. Researchers should be encouraged to be transparent about their research process and share their data based on FAIR principles. FAIR stands for Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable. Open data incentives researchers to better manage their data and results in higher data quality. In a similar fashion, open software minimizes the duplication of work. Open software encourages the development of new theories that can be more accessible and implemented by users. This factor itself can boost research and research funding by allowing a prompt implementation to the industry of research results.

Open Review is the next horizon of scientific openness. It requires open data and open software and a reformulation of the reward scheme for scientific contribution. Currently, reviews are most commonly blind and not recognized. The nowadays overflowing number of publications resulted in an explosion of review requests, deteriorating the quality of the reviews and of the scientific manuscript them-self. We consider Open Review as a possible partial solution that could lead a new era of scientific discussion.

We are aware of the difficulties in the implementation of the Open Science policies, it cannot be expected by institution, nor by individual researchers, to be able to operate the shift.  Hereby, we hope that our involvement will help the creation of a virtuous loop combining the self-interest of researchers with the public interest (open science and scientific dissemination). Currently SiN hosts a board member with the European recognised training as Open Science Ambassador (