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Future priorities for Open Science

Open Science has always been pluralistic in its practices, values, and principles. While in some respects, there is strength in such diversity, it can also make strategic co-ordination inherently difficult.

With this in mind, these are the five key things that I feel the “Open Science movement/community” could focus on in the future:

  1. Research evaluation reform.
    • I still do not understand why journal brands and impact factors continue to dominate so many elements of research evaluation, when the evidence against their use is so overwhelming. Enough is enough. Almost every discussion I have had about the future of research comes back down to issues to do with research evaluation, and the toxic impacts of a “publish or perish” culture.
    • We know that there is a mental health crisis in early career researchers, and this evaluation system is a harmful part of it. Creating a healthier, fairer research culture must remain a top priority for the future of Open Science.
  2. Role of scholarly publishers.
    • Are scholarly publishers service providers? And if so, are they providing a service that the wider sector is asking of them, or are they dictating the terms of service? Service providers should fairly compete within a functional market to provide high-value services that customers require. If they are not doing so, we need to step back and evaluate why.
    • There is a critical imperative to re-evaluate the impact of so-called ‘transformative’ agreements, and whether or not they follow appropriate laws for public procurement. I fear that these will only make things worse. The industry also requires market-level intervention in order to begin to function properly.
  3. Increasing global participation.
    • Bridging the ‘north-south’ divide. Our current scholarly communication ecosystem is beset by structural inequities, be they infrastructural or epistemological. Any future scholarly communication ecosystem must address these, and create a future that is truly global in its consideration. Anything less than this is probably too short-sighted.
    • Part of this entails greater listening from those in a position of leadership, and being humble about the successes and failures from initiatives around the world, and co-operating at a global level to achieve a more inclusive and fair scholarly communication system. The launch of the Global Alliance of OA Scholarly Communication Platforms with UNESCO is a strong part of this.
  4. Threat of platform capitalism.
    • We know that Elsevier and others are moving rapidly into the data analytics and infrastructure control sphere at a number of levels. Some people think this might be bad. If so, there is an urgent imperative to map out what a non-profit, community-owned infrastructure might look like, and then work out how to sustainably finance and co-ordinate its development.
    • This also includes performing a risk analysis of both potential futures, including whether or not the scholarly community is truly ready to take on the burden and bureaucracy associated with controlling a global scholarly communication infrastructure.
  5. Community structure.
    • Community building, and investment in people. What remains clear to me is that the ‘Open Science community’ remains very fragmented, and unhealthy in a number of respects. The messaging is often conflicted and unclear, and unity around a core message is needed.
    • Strong communities are built upon solid values and principles, and ‘Open Science’ needs to figure out what these are as a basis for such future cohesion. Time and people are the most important resources that we have, so let us invest appropriately in their future.

I think that pretty much all of these can be lumped as parts underneath the ultimate goal of creating a healthier research culture. I think that if we focus on that as a sort of moral imperative, than all of this should become a little easier.

If you feel there are different priorities, please do post in the comments!

2 thoughts on “Future priorities for Open Science

  1. Great suggestions here! I would add that open science as a construct should be broadened so that it includes science communication much more. A great deal of emphasis is placed on publishing more open-access papers, but we often don’t consider that many people (outside of healthcare and very technical settings) are uninterested in poring over scientific papers. But if these OA papers were written to be “cognitively open” or learnable, then it would take scientific communication/literacy into a Golden Age. I have a few ideas about how to go about this…

    1. Great comment, thanks Jay! In short, yes, I agree! Open access does not imply open accessibility 🙂

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