Thanks to open science, even more people can learn from each other
Open science hasn’t been a thing of the future for a while now. The international movement, for that is what it is, does research and informs and supports scientists. Good data management is a prerequisite for research according to open science principles. Minister Dijkgraaf is investing 20 million euros over the next ten years to support the transition to open science, which is a milestone. By making data public and available, everyone can much more easily verify what others claim. This is very supportive in improving trust in science.
"Science serves society and knowledge should be given back to society. It should not disappear behind a pay wall," says Sander Bosch, open science coordinator. "To encourage and facilitate open science, we wrote a plan and defined five areas where action is needed."
- Support and training (by the UB and IT)
- Community engagement (together with UvA and HvA)
- Recognise and Reward
"The Research Data Support programme of programme manager Imke Limpens built the infrastructure and paved the way to open science. In that programme, a project group led by Imke has been detailing the most optimal way of storing and managing data. In doing so, they laid a solid foundation for open science within VU Amsterdam. We also see that grant makers want research data to be shared with the world. Regardless of the results, they are increasingly interested in how this is done. Finally, it is important as a university to think about how data can still be available in 10 years' time. Open science is an exciting movement."
Can you explain to me why that is so important?
Sander: "It has to do with the quality of the data but certainly also with integrity, diversity and inclusion. If we ensure that data is public through open science, others can share their thoughts and participate. Others who may not necessarily have an academic background but are interested in research results from their organisation or personal interests. Partly due to our rector Jeroen Geurts’ attention for this topic, and for Recognise and Reward, we also notice that it leads to systemic change. That recognition no longer takes place based on just citations and publications of the individual scientist. We are in the middle of a transition; a different way of looking at our entire recognition and reward system and contributing to a better world."
"In the new system of valuing, the focus is more on the narrative and less on the number of citations and publications. That is not possible in every research. Doing fundamental research and experiments also remains important. After all, revolutionary inventions are often made 'by accident'. It is by making non-obvious connections and going against the grain that a researcher often arrives at interesting insights. The new system of recognition and rewarding is all about finding the golden mean. Citations and publications as well as the narrative."
Can you tell us something about last year's milestones?
"We started several projects this year and more and more faculties are joining in. For instance, we organised an open science symposium where there were 300 participants. We put a lot of effort into the open access policy and expanded the training offer. We also trained a number of people who are now able to provide software training courses. With six instructors sharing their knowledge and calling for people to join, more and more people are getting involved in spreading open science."
"We are working on increasing the visibility of open science. For example, with posters, banners and information on the website. We need support within our faculties. There are enthusiasts within every faculty who want to help us. It is important to overcome the crisis of confidence that exists towards science. Open science can help us achieve this. In addition, it is interesting to see how we can already introduce open science to education as well. Here too, we find that there are enthusiastic teachers who want to help us. I hope that in a few years we will be training a new generation of scientists for whom open science is the starting point."
"Of course, there are also limits and laws and regulations are needed. You can’t just disclose sensitive (patients and clients) data. So where necessary, security is a must. I have a great example of how it can be done. Hospitals work with sensitive information. A researcher interested in open science was advised against disclosing her data. She chose to do so anyway, and the moment she did, a lot of people approached her. She now has so many co-authorships, and her career has skyrocketed, thanks to open science. The momentum is now, the entire scientific community is ready for it. We are ready for a new way of working and being recognised. I really like that I can contribute to that."