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Ending 2017 with Open

On 5 december I attended the London Information Info. Mainly because I promised to speak about the National Plan Open Science (more or less the same talk as I had at Visby). There were a few observations I made walking around at the not-so-crowded venue that I would like to share in this blog.

Ziyad Marar of Sage Publishing referred to a FOO Camp they organize together with O’Reilly and Facebook – the first social sciences FOO camp connecting social scientists with data scientists. Sage obviously moves from an interest to content to an interest in tooling for researchers. Their mission is “by social scientists for social scientists”. They question themselves how they can become more supportive of research.

In the panel “whose research is it anyway” I particpated together with amongst others Phil Jones (from Digital Science) and Sybil Wong (Sparrho). An interesting part of the discussion was brought up by Phil. We should realize that journals are still mainly connected to the vertical colons university faculties once were. With the societal challenges research is more grouped into multidisciplinary coalitions and the traditional journals do not fit here. (Note that in one of the parallel vendor sessions Springer Nature talked about their Grand Challenges Program.) Sybil told us that the target group she worked with (early career researchers) often were frustrated by the fact that research was put into cages, where they preferred to work in the open and share. Her contribution in relation to the discussion about traditional journals was also interesting. She mentioned that these journals have a limited aims&scope and are often very biased within their peer review community: new research always needs to fit in. That was a reason for her to appreciate the way peer review is done at PloS – where quality focuses on methodology, and less on the “content”. The panel session was in fact on the topic of ownership. We all felt that this would become less important, or as an Elsevier representative said: “we are moving from copyright&ownership to credit&control”. The question that remained was that if ownership is not something you get a return on investment on, what is the economic value in future (for the scholarly publisher)? Interestingly we all agreed that the role of libraries as guardians of metadata remains or even expands.

I found this “christmas tree of barrels” at the tube stations in London. At TU Delft Library we have a homemade christmas tree of books this year!

After an intermezzo by Alfred Rolington (Cyber security intelligence) about the 4th digital revolution, who asked us all to be far more aware of the social consequences in this revolution than we have been before, the open science / open future session started. Rosalind Smyth (from UCL Institute of Child Health) has been involved in Open access for quite some time (she served for 10 years at the PLoS Board). Her institute will be the first academic institute adopting the open research platform. She is convinced she will seduce her researchers to use it, but she will not keep her academics from publishing in Nature. The platform is fast, inclusive, open, reproducible and transparent, contains living articles and open peer review. Hannah Hope from Wellcome Trust also expanded on their open research platform. The first results show that new opportunities are fully used now (with software notes and datasets in the top 5).

Enough interesting stuff there to be happy I got there on a one-day visit. Fiona Bradley (RLUK) mentioned a detail that I shared with more people last week, i.e., that more and more people only get to Internet via Facebook nowadays. But perhaps even better to refer here to the paper Erin C. McKiernan recently published in PloS Biology on the “open” university. I still have to take time to read this more thoroughly. She touches on so many relevant things a researcher, an institute, or a funder can do to be open (and probaly also a Library director in Delft). And reminds us on the why of having open scholarship: to be more inclusionary, to increase the societal impact of your research; to accelerate the pace of discovery and addressing the reproducibility crisis. She gives good examples where research has been shared, and she outlines her own personal pledge:

As an open scholar, I pledge to:

  1. edit and review only for open access journals,
  2. publish only in open access journals,
  3. openly share my working manuscripts as preprints,
  4. openly share my code and data under version control,
  5. openly share my electronic laboratory notebooks,
  6. sign my manuscript reviews,
  7. preferentially assign openly licensed materials in my classes,
  8. create openly licensed teaching materials,
  9. ask my professional societies to support open scholarship,
  10. speak out in support of open scholarship.

A perfect example to follow!

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