We, Anita Eerland and Loek Brinkman, have been working in academic research for over nine years. In this time, we became convinced of two things:
(1) Science is beautiful
(2) Science can be done better
About the first: science allows us to understand the world we live in and informs our choices for interventions and policy. It allows us to make this world a better place. We love it. Regarding the latter, science can be more efficient and -most importantly- more reliable. The way to achieve this is to make it more transparent.
Pioneering researchers and policy makers are exploring ways in which science can become more transparent, e.g. by sharing your data and registering your plans and hypothesis. Collectively, this set of practices is known as ‘open science’. I’m convinced that adopting open science practices increases the accuracy and accountability of science, and I’m sure most researchers would agree that accurate and accountable science is better science. But then, why is the academic community by and large not (yet) fully committed to open science?
We think the pitfall here is that the people that are actively involved in the debate on open science typically are the ones that are already convinced that open science is the way forward and often have substantial expertise with open science practices, while the large majority of researchers are hesitant to change their current workflow, for understandable reasons. Perhaps they don’t know where to start. Or they don’t see how such practices would be endorsed. Or they might be afraid their research will be scrutinised. However, their voice is crucial in shaping how open science will be put to practice. These are the people who can best assess the obstacles that are encountered adopting open science practices and the support that is needed to implement them. When researchers with an interest in open science, but no experience per se, are included in the open science debate, we are well on our way to making open science practices the norm.
To facilitate this, we started an open science community at our university: the Open Science Community Utrecht (www.openscience-utrecht.com). The community is a inclusive platform to learn and talk about open science. In just three months, over 100 colleagues have joined our community, from all faculties and career stages. Starting this summer, we will host open science cafes as a platform for informal discussions, organise open science workshops, and we are hosting a podcast series: the Road to Open Science (www.openscience-utrecht.com/oscu-podcast).
A number of other universities have started similar local open science communities. Our aim for the coming year is to connect these local communities and facilitate colleagues at other universities to start their own local open science communities. Such a global open science community has the potential to bring about large scale adoption of Open Science practices, making science more reliable and efficient.