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Making open science the new reality

The National Plan Open Science has been presented, and the National Platform Open Science and website have been launched, as we had planned for, on 9 February 2017. It was great to have been able to play a part in this.

Perhaps the most difficult thing for me was finding the balance between being the neutral writer (because the Plan is a joint effort, and expresses the ambitions of the responsible coalitions, not mine) and the Librarian with an opinion (which I obviously have).

We have delivered fourteen concrete ambitions related to 100% open access for scientific publications (created via public funding) per 2020; optimal reuse of research data; implementing a broader view on the way research and researchers are assessed and rewarded; and promoting and supporting open science.

It was great that all Parties involved created responsible coalitions per ambition, and the collectivity that is needed for this, is perhaps one of the major achievements during the creation of this Plan. I said it before “I am, because we are”.

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I like to share in this weblog just a few of the things that came along, but were too difficult to grasp at this moment, or were not big enough to make it into an ambition:

  • Could we give credit to researchers who start new research based on existing research data (and thus stimulate reuse)?
  • How could we stimulate researchers to cite data(sets) as part of their reference lists?
  • What would it mean if we would say: “if we invest in science, it needs to be open science”?
  • An event for researchers to present all available infrastructure and tools is one thing, but do not forget to involve administrators and managers, and also those working in HR, Finance and ICT.
  • All articles submitted are first routed to the research library > here the open access policy of the journal selected is checked, taken care of the right sort of license, and the final version after publishing is stored in the institutional repository. Is that a crazy thought?

Take some time to read our National Plan, and have a look at our website. Let us know if you have ideas, comments, or would like to participate in the Platform. We need each other to make open science the new reality.

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There are many people I could thank, but these are the most important ones: our wonderful writing team!

Our own shade of open

Another update in the writing process of the national plan open science for The Netherlands. The good news is that we have drafted our first version and discussed this with a group of stakeholders during a second creative session. Just wait a bit, and weeks will become days will become hours, and it will be a second that our plan reaches its audience.

It is not yet that second. I can tell a bit more, though, about our approach and steps.

Creative sessions
We read, and talked, watched and listened, as I mentioned in my first weblog. Obviously the Council Conclusions and the Amsterdam Call for Action on open science form a strong basis. The first tuning of our findings took place on 7 December 2016, where we met with a group of twenty-some people in the Hive room at TU Delft Library. A wonderful report was made by Marina Noordegraaf. We found it important that we made a strong visual report, so that regardless of the result at the end, each step is worth the effort. Of course this session was, though an important one, only one of the many inputs to our plan. At this first session we took the scientific process as the central point, and all people present plotted their current and future actions on the several phases of the process.
This gave us valuable input – we could make overviews of both, i.e., of current and future actions. We used the time between Christmas and New Year’s Eve to write down a 60% version of the plan. The plan starts of course with the definition and context of open science, and ends with what will happen next after finalizing the plan early February. The middle part is the most important part: there we show what The Netherlands are doing at this moment and what we will be doing the coming years to open up the scientific process.
On 11 January 2017 we had a second meeting, with more or less the same group. Here we took the future actions and discussed why they are needed (the problem) and what they will solve (the solution), who would be action holder and the estimated time line. We had an active discussion. We learned that people preferred to talk about ambitions instead of actions, and about a coalition instead of action holders. We are now in the middle of finalizing these ambitions with the stakeholders involved.

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11 January 2017 – The Hive @tudelftlibrary.

Contributors
“No pressure, no diamonds”. Having three months in total for composing our national plan means that we have to make choices. Every choice is a direction, so it is good to make choices, and by doing so to make progress. One of the choices, of course upon consultation with our supervisor Ministry of Education, Culture and Sciences, was to involve (semi-) public stakeholders only. The people attending our creative sessions were from higher education- and research institutes, their libraries, funding bodies, the national library, research data centres, ICT and research(ers) organisations. Besides these, we have spoken with (representatives from) private companies, their confederation (VNO-NCW), the international organisation of STM publishers, the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA), Business Europe and consulted several individuals (such as researchers, teachers and health care workers) to get inspiration or answers. However, the plans or ambitions of the latter group for open science will not be covered in our national plan. The plan is the start, though, of a process where other bodies and stakeholders need to be involved.

Researchers
Talking about open science is talking about researchers, so how are they involved? In the Plan, the ambition is written down to organize a researcher-targeted conference on open science later in the year. For now we have (apart from the larger higher education- and research institutes) researchers involved via DJA (The Young Academy), PNN (“Promovendi” Network Netherlands) and we intend to get in touch with Postdoc.nl.

How open can you get?
Another choice is to decide when it is the best time to open up the result. Is that something you do right from the start, in the middle or at the end? We have chosen for a sort of compromise. The plan is not ours (us being the writing team), but theirs (them being the stakeholders involved). We want the actions, I mean ambitions, to be feasible and realistic, and showing too early what we are going to do, might have a negative effect if things mentioned have to be deleted after all. However, here at TU Delft we have just started our Year of Open, and for me Open is more than opening up the scientific process. It is also an attitude. It is about being honest, telling people what you are doing (and why), and motivating people to do the same.

The compromise
So this is the compromise: if you send an email to nationaalplanopenscience@tudelft.nl, you get an 80% version (in Dutch) of our draft plan (after 17 January 2017). We can send you an English version after 26 January 2017, that will be the 95% version. I cannot guarantee we will respond to all remarks / comments we receive, but at least there is a “shade of open”. The plan will be final and presented on 9 February 2017.

Making open science the default road. Making open science just science.

Quote by Thomas Carlyle. At the end of each session, I used another quote from him: “Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you will be able to see further”.

Published 15 January 2017; small edits 17 January 2017.

Just science

So here I am, starting to write the national plan on open science for The Netherlands. This seems to be a heavy task, with a deadline of early February 2017. And nothing on paper yet. Why do I have confidence that we will succeed?

  1. I am, because we are. The full quote is: “I am because WE are and, since we are, therefore I am.” A quote by John Mbiti, of which the short version was used at a “tile painting” workshop at Royal Delft (De Porceleyne Fles) we recently organized during our “Day out of the Library with all our personnel”. The assignment was to paint a quote that had a relation with the benefits of working together. I succeed, because we succeed. Not only is the writing process a team effort (with Hester Touwen, Anke Versteeg and Astrid van Wesenbeeck), we are not making up our own ideas. We read, listen, view, talk, get together, and – though our time is limited – aim to put the actions that The Netherlands is undertaking in relation to open science together. We do this in close connection with and under supervision of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sciences.
  2. “Beware of that demon called ‘Changing The World’.” A quote by Marty Rubin. We know the Council Conclusions on the transition towards an open science system, and of course the Amsterdam Call for Action (see here the blog I wrote about the Congress). Open science means that we open up the scientific process, as much as possible. This will further science and society. Economy and innovation may flourish by opening up the scientific process. For our plan we restrict ourselves to three lines, based on the goals as laid down in the Council conclusions, i.e., 100% open access for scientific publications (that were created via public funding) per 2020; optimal reuse of research data; and perhaps the most important of all, implementing a broader view on the way research and researchers are assessed and rewarded. We are aware that a lot is going on, both in and outside our country. It is impossible to mention everything, though we will incorporate a few initiatives in relation with these three lines, and we will be listening to the users from science and society. No we will not be changing the world by writing this plan, but we will be adding our practice, ideas and actions to reach our result: meaningful access to science and scientific processes.
  3. A plan is not the end; it is a beginning. In February we will have a national plan open science, and at the same time our Ministry will launch the national platform open science. In this way continuity is guaranteed, actions can be followed, new ones can be added, and changes can be made.

Intermezzo

Let us support our researchers so that it is clear for them, on their bumpy road, what they can and cannot do, what tools they should be using (in what way), and how they can reach a destination that seems to be blocked. Making open science the default road. Making open science just science. 

Indications which road is closed ("afgesloten"), or still available ("bereikbaar") should be given.

Indications which road is closed (“afgesloten”), or still available (“bereikbaar”) should be given.

It should be clear who is allowed to do what.

It should be clear who is allowed to do what, and what tools are useful.

It should be clear what you cannot or should not be doing.

It should be clear what you cannot or should not be doing.

“Go as far as you can see.
When you get there
You’ll be able
to see farther”

Thomas Carlyle

 

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