Guest post by Lonni Besançon
While the term and concept have been around for a while now, Open Science has been, in the last 10 years, a huge focus for scholarly research and researchers. Open Science is now a broad term that encompasses a number of related ideas. Many researchers and scholarly or popular articles have focused on what defines Open Science and why it is good and important [1,2]; this is not the focus of this article. This article instead focuses on why, even if you don’t care about the values that are promoted by Open Science, Open Science can benefit your career and therefore why you should still abide by the practices.
What is Open Science?
Open Science encompasses a broad range of different practices but relies on the idea that the scientific process should be transparently shared and publicly available. From there, several themes appears. The most famous one, Open Access, consists in making sure that research articles are accessible and re-usable without restriction or having to hit a paywall or use Sci-Hub. Open Access guarantees that tax-payers as well as researchers in low-to-middle-income countries have access to state of the art research results and methods, thereby promoting equitable participation. Open Source and Open Data, ensures that materials (such as questionnaires, forms, procedures, gathered and processed data) and source code are shared to foster replication studies, increase re-use, and facilitate the peer-reviewing process. Open Peer Review consists in making publicly available the reviews that research communications are given in order to keep all the scientific exchanges during a submission process available to all, and sometimes the identities of the reviewers too.
Countless arguments have been made to explain why Open Science is important for science and other researchers. But, aside from the benefits to the wider scientific community in particular, Open Science also directly benefits researchers themselves who abide by its concept.
What do you get from Open Access?
Open Access research articles are freely available without paywalls so that readers do not have to be employed by a university/research institute that can pay for access fees in order to read the content of the article. It directly benefits researchers in low-to-middle-income countries, as well as anyone who actually wants to read the article, but it also directly benefits the authors of the article themselves for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that their article is directly available to all in any situation. Their article is therefore much more likely to be read by researchers in low-to-middle-income countries and therefore much more likely to also get cited. In fact, most studies on this topic show that Open Access articles seem to gather more citations than paywalled articles across different disciplines [3,4,5]. If we also consider how much research is shared on social media (and Twitter in particular) and that the majority of people browse social media on their phone, Open Access guarantees that users can directly check out the content of the articles without having to note for their future selves to check it out once they reach their office. Furthermore, there is evidence that Open Access articles are more often shared and discussed on social media [4,6].
While many major companies can afford to have access to paywalled articles, it is quite unlikely that smaller companies are willing to spend millions of euros to get access to state-of-the-art methods or data. New results, methods or softwares from research institutes are therefore less likely to be adopted by companies.
Similarly, for early-career researchers who wish to eventually make it back to industry, having their research accessible online is also likely to promote their application to said companies.
Finally, early sharing of article drafts on archiving websites (such as HAL, arxiv, etc.) also help to receive pre-peer review feedback from the wider research community and therefore improve the article in a much faster fashion than through the traditional peer-reviewing system .
What do you get from Open Data and Open Source?
Open Data and Open Source refers to the idea of sharing research materials (data, software, questionnaire, processes, …). Doing so has been shown to foster replications as well as help find possible mistakes in manuscript (during or after peer-review) and therefore help correct them. It is therefore good practice for the creation of more robust scientific knowledge. In addition, it can also be beneficial to individual researchers directly.
While it is common practice to assign DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers) to research articles, DOIs can also be assigned to data/software/materials using platforms like Figshare or Zenodo. If the data that authors obtained can be in any useful to other researchers, current Transparency and Openness Guidelines highly recommend citing them properly and authors are likely to get recognition for making their research materials available. Furthermore, there seems to be evidence that scientific articles sharing their research materials are also more likely to get cited more . As citations still function as a form of ‘academic capital’, everyone wins from this practice.
What do you get from Open Review?
Open Review  refers to sharing, and possibly de-anonymizing, reviews of scientific articles. To analyse the benefits of such a process, it is important to consider both sides of the peer-reviewing systems: authors, and reviewers. As an author, some studies have shown that open reviews are likely to bring more constructive criticism with more substantiated claims 10,11. Other studies have also highlighted that open reviews tend to be more carefully written and more polite .
As a reviewer, open reviews can help highlight researchers’ contribution to the peer-reviewing effort. Indeed, they allow, if de-anonymised, reviewers to get direct credit for the reviewing work , thus helping early-career researchers to show their contributions as reviewers where more experienced researchers can easily show their work as associate editors. Platforms such as Publons were designed for this. Open reviews are furthermore often published with the research article, and some venues even give them a separate DOI so that your hard-work review can also be used and cited by others.e
Ready to Open Up?
Hard work from Open Science researchers has led most journals and conferences to follow at least some of the principles of Open Science, and contrary to popular belief, even journals such as Nature or Science accept sharing of data or pre-prints [12,13]. Noteworthy, several countries or institutions also openly support open science now, through specific institution policies, or country-wide regulations, solutions for archiving, or funding schemes. France for instance required their researchers to put their publications on HAL.
Open Science promotes, on the one hand, a healthier research environment and, on the other hand, helps researchers promote their work. What are you waiting for?
- S. Hitchcock. The effect of open access and downloads (’hits’) on citation impact: a bibliography of studies. 2016
- X. Wang, C. Liu, W. Mao, Z. Fang. The open access advantage considering citation, article usage and social media attention. 2015 (DOI: 10.1007/s11192-015-1547-0)
- Dataset on OSF (DOI: 10.17605/OSF.IO/U7AZN)
- E. Adie. Attention! A study of open access vs non-open access articles. 2014 (DOI: 10.6084/m9.figshare.1213690)
- L. Bornmann, H.D Daniel. How long is the peer review process for journal manuscripts? A case study on Angewandte Chemie International Edition. 2010 (DOI: 10.2533/chimia.2010.72)
- H.A. Piwowar, T.J. Vision. Data reuse and the open data citation advantage. 2013 (DOI: 10.7717/peerj.175)
- T. Ross-Hellauer. What is open peer review? A systematic review. 2017. (DOI: 10.12688%2Ff1000research.11369.2)
- M.K. Kowalczuk, F. Dudbridge, S. Nanda, S.L. Harriman, E.C. Moylan A comparison of the quality of reviewer reports from author-suggested reviewers and editor-suggested reviewers in journals operating on open or closed peer review models. 2013 (f1000research.com/posters/1094564)
- L. Besançon, N. Rönnberg, J. Löwgren, J.P. Tennant, M. Cooper. Open Up: A Survey on Open and Non-anonymized Peer Reviewing. 2019 (DOI: 10.20944/preprints201905.0098.v2).