Welcome to Science 2.0 | Open Access in Action

A look at the EU’s newly announced Open Science Policy Platform, and the long-term implications of Open Science for librarians and other information curators. In this series, we’ll be examining the implications of Open Access (or OA) publishing of peer reviewed journal content on academic and public libraries. OA is of course part of a larger phenomenon—the movement to make science itself accessible to everyone. Like OA, Open Science (OS) has broad implications for those charged with the curation of knowledge.

A look at the EU’s newly announced Open Science Policy Platform, and the long-term implications of Open Science for librarians and other information curators

In this series, we’ll be examining the implications of Open Access (or OA) publishing of peer reviewed journal content for academic and public libraries. OA is of course part of a larger phenomenon—the movement to make science itself accessible to everyone. Like OA, Open Science (OS) has broad implications for those charged with the curation of knowledge. The modern Open Science movement holds that scientific research, methodology, source code, and especially data should be disseminated to everyone, professionals and amateurs alike. The concept itself is not new. The tension between commercial, political, and aspirational motives in the scientific community is centuries old. However, with the advent of Internet ubiquity, OS has assumed new significance. A recent Open University paper summarized the key benefits of Open Science, namely that it:
  • Allows for the reproduction of research findings,
  • Enables transparency in research methodology,
  • Increases the researcher’s societal impact, and
  • Saves money and time for both researchers and research institutions.
Figure 1: Adapted, with permission, from Dr. Burgelman’s 2015 presentation.

Figure 1: Adapted, with permission, from Dr. Burgelman’s 2015 presentation.

Objections to OS typically involve concerns about quality assurance or even the potential for fraud. However, in a 2015 presentation at the Young European Associated Researchers (YEAR) annual conference, Dr. Jean-Claude Burgelman noted that actual instances of fraud involving Open Science and Open Access publication, while regrettable, are statistically insignificant if one takes into account the huge growth of the scientific population. In the same presentation, Dr. Burgelman reasoned that the Open Science trend is systemic and irreversible, driven by exponential growth in data, globalization, and demands for accountability and transparency. In fact, each facet of the classic scientific inquiry model has its counterpart in the Open Science model, with rapidly growing online communities in each area of focus. (See Figure 1.)

Enter the EU

Open Science involves an extremely complex set of connections and common understandings, to ensure that important findings are not lost. With so many stakeholders and no centralized authority for establishing best practices for interoperability, agencies in the European Union realized the need for a deliberative and inclusive approach. In 2015, the European Commission announced its intent to create a high-level advisory group, the Open Science Policy Platform (OSPP). The 20+ member body’s ambition is to develop an Open Science policy agenda and promote the adoption of agreed-upon best practices among such diverse stakeholders as universities, science academies, funding bodies, research organizations, and libraries. According to an official summary, the OSPP will coordinate the efforts of eight working groups, each dealing with a different but interrelated aspect of OS, including rewards, research integrity, open data, and citizen science. Members of the working groups will be predominantly European, but many will come from organizations and groups with international interests and connections, according to an EU official. The need for such a broad approach is driven by two factors. First, Open Science is disruptive—similar to the effect of the Internet itself. For some, the change will not be a pleasant one, especially if financial models are involved. Second, according to EU sources, implementation of OS principles will be a complex and difficult process, given the interconnected nature of stakeholders in the scientific community. Despite these challenges, OS proponents are optimistic. While there is not a comparable advisory group outside Europe, similar best practices concerns are evident in governmental bodies like the NIH as well as intra-governmental bodies like the Research Data Alliance.

Seeing the Benefits

As the OSPP moves forward, proponents are quick to point out examples of Open Science potential benefits. In the aftermath of the 2014 Ebola outbreak, an article in Nature strongly advocated open availability of clinical and genomic data to respond more rapidly to future outbreaks. “Researchers working on outbreaks — from Ebola to West Nile virus — must agree on standards and practices that promote and reward cooperation,” the article authors stated. “If these protocols are endorsed internationally, the global research community will be able to share crucial information immediately wherever and whenever an outbreak occurs.” Science itself may be the primary beneficiary. Responding to the question of accountability and scientific integrity, Burgelman was clear that Open Science was more of a safeguard than a problem. He indicated that with more people viewing and analyzing the data, the more likely it will be that inconsistencies or misrepresentations will be detected.

The New Librarians

During our discussions about Open Science and the OSPP, it became clear that this explosion of data will require a new breed of knowledge curators. “Librarians are the knowledge gatekeepers of the future,” Burgelman said. “We will need people to help us navigate in this sea of available data. We need to know not only what and where are the data, but more importantly, what is the question?” Open Access In Action

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

RELATED 

TOP STORIES

LIBRARY EDUCATION

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

COMMUNITY FORM

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.