Blog: the Road to Open Science

Introducing the OSCU Faculty Ambassadors: IV. Jannis Hoch, Faculty of Geosciences

In the course of the next few months, we shall introduce the OSCU Faculty Ambassadors, so that OSCU members know whom to contact and what they can expect. Ambassadors are introduced through personal interviews. In this interview, we use the term Open Science in a manner which includes Open Scholarship.

Why did you decide to apply to become an Open Science Faculty Ambassador for the Open Science Community Utrecht?
Even though I cannot exactly tell when I became acquainted with the concept of ‘Open Science’ (OS) for the first time, it intuitively felt like the right thing to do, and therefore I adhere as much as possible to OS principles. When I heard of the Open Science Community Utrecht, I was immediately intrigued by its bottom-up grassroots approach promoting Open Science. Even during my brief hiatus from academia, I followed OSCU activities closely. And once I was back at Utrecht University and the Ambassador position for Geosciences was vacant, I took my chance. As Ambassador for OSCU, I want to contribute my share not only to a more FAIR and more open science, but also to academic culture.

Why is Open Science relevant for your faculty? Which element do you think is most important?
We work a lot with (big) data, code, and various computer models. As such, a huge amount of data is produced and eventually published. Model results are sometimes even used in a decision-making process. For many people not familiar with these data and models, this can be received as a ‘black-box’. I therefore think that by following more ‘Open Science’ practices and making your workflow and output transparent and reproducible, scientific work will become more credible in relation to the decision-making process and in turn for wider society. We all have to be, after all, held responsible for what we conclude and advice, and how we came to these conclusions. This is particularly important as the Faculty of Geosciences encompasses very ‘tangible’ disciplines with which many people can directly relate to and may have opinions about.

Scientists are usually specialized in one or two fields. How will you represent and engage with your colleagues from different fields within the same faculty?
Open Science is fortunately a concept independent of one’s academic specialization. No matter what your background is, there is something in it for you, and I think this should be very much the foundation for discussion when engaging with each other. This creates a level playing field for everyone where anyone can contribute, which is also the mission of OSCU: a bottom-up community to learn, share, and discuss OS practices. In this context, I really want to address the opportunities Open Science brings, and therefore I am very much looking forward to talking to scientists with other backgrounds.

What will you do as an Ambassador, besides organizing a symposium?
Well, as the symposium plans are bit on hold due to the current COVID-19-situation, I am mostly busy to ‘spread the word’. Furthermore, work is on-going to better establish connections with the different streams at the faculty and university which want to foster Open Science. Within OSCU, we also work on university-wide projects, such as the successful ‘Open Science Coffee’ sessions in the past months.

Which challenges do you expect to face during the road ahead?
The Faculty of Geosciences is very diverse, fortunately. In terms of Open Science, I would expect that the perception of ‘Open Science’ differs quite a bit between departments, and that every department and researcher have their own prior knowledge and established workflows. Besides, the openness towards Open Science may differ between departments and within. Understanding this first and then developing means that can help everyone is definitely a challenge, but also a chance to learn from each other. After all, OSCU is a community-platform where everyone can bring in their share!

Thank your for reading this blog entry. If you want to stay updated, do keep an eye on this website, the Open Science Community Utrecht newsletter and follow us on Twitter.

Your Personal Science: Everything you wanted to say about science, but were afraid to share. – An OSCoffee Impression.

On June 19th, the Open Science Community Utrecht (OSCU) organized a small symposium (OSCoffee) on sharing experiences with science, hosted by the Open Science Programme Team. OSCU resident science journalist Stefan Gaillard wrote an impression of the event.

The session was very interactive from the beginning; this particular instance of the OSCoffee was aimed at sharing personal experiences within academia. The three main questions were:

  1. You are at a birthday party and someone asks you, why are you in science? What will you answer?
  2. Can you name a positive encounter with science?
  3. Can you name a negative encounter with science?

Leave your own answers to these questions in the comment section below!

Frank Miedema and Susanna Bloem, among others, gave a small plenary talk where they shared their individual experiences with academia. Frank focused on a very personal experience regarding the medical experience of someone close to him, which partially inspired him for his own medical career. In addition, he briefly touched on the disproportionate status within the medical world attributed to curing compared to caring.  

Susanna focused on a topic that has long been neglected in academia, but has lately – thankfully – received more and more attention: failure. She shared an overview of her rejected grant proposals, an excellent example of Open Science. Speaking about or even publishing rejected grant proposals can contribute much to society. Grants identify gaps in knowledge and offer solutions to fill those gaps. Publishing grants thus helps science move forward by bringing those gaps and solutions out in the open.    

Especially the break-out sessions were motivating. Being in one room with other scientists and talking about positive and negative encounters was refreshing – hearing about similar experiences from other researchers, from senior professors to starting PhDs. The session I attended was extra special, because none of us was able to communicate via audio – some of us were in libraries, one of us was in the same room as their partner who had an online thesis consultation, and some never specified (and neither should they have to). A stark reminder that online workshops cannot fully replace live ones.  

The first question, about the birthday party, was rather confronting: both because I realized almost all parties I attend are with other scientists, and because it was surprisingly difficult to name something unique to science that draws me to it. Some of the other participants came up with an answer that struck a chord: continuing in academia is like getting paid to continue studying.   

The positive and negative encounters surrounding science mostly concerned making an impact on society. All of us worried whether our research had any benefits outside of academia. Relatedly, the moments that we experienced as positive were often those moments where we really felt we made a beneficial contribution to other peoples’ lives. On this positive note, the meeting ended, with all of us feeling not so alone after all.    

Thank your for reading this blog entry. If you want to stay updated, do keep an eye on this website, the Open Science Community Utrecht newsletter and follow us on Twitter.

Introducing the OSCU Faculty Ambassadors: III. Karin Sanders, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

In the course of the next few months, we shall introduce the OSCU Faculty Ambassadors, so that OSCU members know whom to contact and what they can expect. Ambassadors are introduced through personal interviews. In this interview, we use the term Open Science in a manner which includes Open Scholarship.

Why did you decide to apply to become an Open Science Faculty Ambassador for the Open Science Community Utrecht?
The current academic landscape is focused on superheroes: researchers get funded when they have the best resume with the highest impact papers. This encourages a setting in which researchers only focus on the most interesting findings that they can publish. Null results get disregarded as soon as possible, because researchers have to spend their time based on what is best for their career, and not necessarily on what’s best for science.

The current academic landscape is focused on superheroes: researchers get funded when they have the best resume with the highest impact papers.

The good news is that more and more people are thinking, talking and taking action to change this reward system, for which Open Science is tremendously important. I think that the Open Science concept will therefore not only greatly serve our society in general, but also the academic landscape that researchers find themselves in. In line with the thought ‘accept the things you can’t change and change the things you can’t accept’, I decided to go for the latter, and become an active advocate for Open Science. I was of course very happy to get accepted and really have a chance to devote time to this important movement!

Why is Open Science relevant for your faculty? Which element do you think is most important?
I think that the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in particular can benefit immensely from more Open Science practices. We study diseases and processes that are also studied at different faculties, with the main difference being that our subjects tend to have more fur. If our finding’s aren’t specifically interesting for our species of interest we usually won’t publish the results, but this could very well contain the key to a solution for a different species. In addition, collaborations that combine insights in human and veterinary medicine are paramount. I think that putting our expertise, data, and trials and errors more out into the open would help researchers that study the same disease or process in different species to find and help each other. 

I think that putting our expertise, data, and trials and errors more out into the open would help researchers that study the same disease or process in different species to find and help each other. 

Scientists are usually specialized in one or two fields. How will you represent and engage with your colleagues from different fields within the same faculty?
The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine is very broad: not only do we have many different species to work with (dogs, cats, birds, horses, pigs, sheep, cows, etc.), but the subjects we work with are also very diverse. We don’t only have veterinary patient-oriented research, but also for example research on the human health risks of exposure to potentially harmful agents, and research on infectious diseases (including frontrunners in SARS-CoV-2 research!). I think that this question is therefore very relevant, because I can imagine that there can be different challenges and opportunities concerning Open Science for these researchers. I’m therefore planning to talk to as many people as possible throughout the whole faculty to get an impression of their thoughts, concerns, and ideas.

You are organizing a symposium on Open Science for your faculty. What can we expect?
Hopefully to see each other in person! I just started as a Faculty Ambassador so I haven’t started organizing the symposium yet, but I think it would be good to start with the basics: what type of Open Science possibilities are out there, and which platforms are available for these aspects? I also hope to find out more about the general view on Open Science within my Faculty before I really start organizing, so that I can make sure that the topics will be interesting for as many people as possible. So, if anyone reading this has any suggestions, please let me know!

What will you do as an Ambassador, besides organizing a symposium?
The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine is one of the least represented faculties in terms of OSCU members. I think this is due to a lack of awareness about the OSCU, and even about Open Science in general. Many researchers I talk to immediately think about publishing open access when they hear about open science, but there’s a lot more to it. I want to raise awareness within the faculty about this important concept, and that OSCU is very approachable and willing to help to think about possibilities.

Which challenges do you expect to face in the road ahead?
Although Open Science is definitely gaining momentum, I think a lot of people still see a lot of bears on the road, to throw in a nice Dutch saying. That is to say, many people still see a lot of problems, where there are a lot of opportunities. My hope is that eventually Open Science will become the default, the next normal. To make it so, I think top-down that the reward system for researchers has to embrace and stimulate Open Science, and bottom-up that researchers have to be aware of all the possibilities they have to make their Science Open. I’m excited to take on the latter as my personal challenge within the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine so that we can travel the Open road together!

Thank your for reading this blog entry. If you want to stay updated, do keep an eye on this website, the Open Science Community Utrecht newsletter and follow us on Twitter.

Meet Chris Hartgerink, a.k.a. ‘the Bernie Sanders of Open Science’: Scientific Objectivity, Inclusiveness and Socio-technological Frameworks

In this installment of the Road to Open Science, Stefan returns to the roots of Road to Open Science: a podcast. He interviews Chris Hartgerink, a Shuttleworth Fellow and meta-science enthousiast. They talk about Open Science, inclusiveness in Open Science, objectivity in science, and socio-technological frameworks of Open Science.

[00:41] Perhaps somewhat fittingly, you had the honour of being part of the first full digital promotion at Tilburg University. Your dissertation focuses on ‘either understanding and detecting threats to the epistemology of science or making practical advances to remedy epistemological threats’. For those listeners unfamiliar with your work, could you briefly outline what your research was about and what your findings were?

  • My main finding was that we wouldn’t communicate science with ‘after-the-fact’ articles if we started today. If redesigned properly, how we communicate research could immediately help address pernicious issues like selective publication and access that threaten the sustainability of science. I propose one such design building on that of Elsevier researchers in 1998, where we shift towards an ‘as-you-go’ communication approach, sharing each step of the research when the researcher feels ready to.
  • I meandered to this after I tried to use statistical methods to better safeguard the quality of published research, and finding out that we need to step in much sooner to address issues of data fabrication and questionable research practices.

[05:07] How does your research relate to the Open Science movement? Do you think the name is Open Science is adequate? Is the movement inclusive enough? In the Anglo-Saxon world, the word science is often associated with the social and natural sciences. Some humanities scholars I have talked to say they don’t feel part of the Open Science movement because, in their perception, it focuses too much on on the social and natural sciences.

  • I really like the Knowledge Exchange approach to calling it Open Scholarship to be more encompassing.
  • Even though the name Open Science has stuck, I regard it as relevant for research. In all the work I do I ask myself ‘How does this apply to the humanities? Physics? Chemistry?’ We are currently testing Hypergraph with theoretical researchers, because it is important to move beyond just the traditional empirical cycle research.
  • Moving on to open science as a movement.
  • My research sense was definitely inspired by other people in open science, but I always have a hard time understanding what that movement is supposed to be. There are many sides to it, and there are a lot of people saying they are part of that movement that I do not agree with in many ways.
  • It is so varied what people subscribe to, but also what people want to achieve. In that sense, I find it difficult to understand whether I subscribe to it as well because lumping myself as part of that movement would immediately make those things reflect it. It is a very porous community in that sense. I find it difficult to judge whether the movement as a whole is inclusive exactly because of it as well.
  • There are pockets of inclusivity and pockets of exclusivity, and there are pockets of inflammatory remarks accusing one another.

[10:21] In 2016 you wrote a critical article about the deal between the Association of Dutch Universities and Elsevier regarding open access. In May 2020, Dutch research institutions formed an open science partnership with Elsevier. This means that scientific authors can also publish open access in most Elsevier journals at no extra cost, with some notable exceptions such as The Lancet. How do you feel about this current deal?

  • For those unfamiliar with the 2016 saga, this was at the beginning of the long drawn out process that now resulted in this 2020 deal between the VSNU and Elsevier.
  • In other words, there is quite the history about this deal.
  • Back in 2016, the VSNU was saying in newspapers that they were prepared to launch a full on attack on Elsevier — cancel big deals completely, encourage a boycott for all work. They did not relent, and pretty much said let’s keep talking and no we won’t boycott
  • Here we are in 2020. The goals of the VSNU haven’t changed: Full open access publishing. In that sense, this drawn out process has given them success, although I will admit i haven’t read the fine print myself and much more critical reflections and investigations are out there by Sarah de Rijcke, Alastair Dunning, and Sicco de Knecht.
  • The landscape has changed nonetheless, since 2016. And we know that Elsevier, or any other self-interested party, is not going to give up something without getting anything in return.
  • So what is Elsevier getting in return this time?
  • DATA. No surprises there either, because this has been flowing around for twelve to eighteen months as well. But it is critical.
  • It puts Elsevier in a more central and monolithic position to capitalise on the surplus data produced by research, reducing competition.
  • One might argue that they will share that data for others to build on as well, their collection only being a first step. I refute that by looking at Elsevier’s track record in CrossRef, where their metadata coverage is one of the worst for abstracts and references at 0%
  • All in all? I think the people at VSNU and Elsevier have put in a lot of hard work to make this deal. I congratulate them on finding common ground after all.
  • Are there kinks in the fineprint? Probably. Is this agreement good for the sustainability of science in the long run? No. This agreement is open science in bad faith because it does not actually progress community owned infrastructures.

[19:23] One of the methods you use in your own research is data mining. The combination of data mining and Open Science can be sensitive due to privacy concerns. A common slogan of Open Science is ‘Open as possible, closed if necessary’, but with increased data triangulation options it might seem as if the ‘closed if necessary’ clause will be increasingly important, somewhat negating the whole idea of open science. How do you see this friction?

  • I am one of the most privacy aware people in my network. I read privacy policies A to Z and reject a lot of services because of it. I am that person who asks you to install Signal on your phone because I don’t have WhatsApp.
  • So when I say I research methods in and of themselves are not privacy invading (they can still be problematic for other reasons), I say that with due consideration. In that sense, I take data mining to be just as concerning as statistical regression or correlations — not at all.
  • I do understand privacy concerns surrounding the data that go into these methods and how those are shared.
  • Whom is the data about?
    • Is it a person? Or not?
  • Who “owns” the data?
    • The collector or the person who the data is about? Ownership is key.
    • Who decides to share it? Does someone decide to share something about someone else?
  • What are the considerations to share?
  • Researchers are not trained to ask these questions thoroughly and mindfully.
  • But I also think the need for raw, individual person data is not necessary in a lot of cases. It is not a binary question whether you can share, but more a question of at what level can you share.
    • For statistical regressions or more complex models, it is perfectly okay to share summaries of the data in the form of covariance matrices without sharing individual person data. Of course there are many considerations, like in the case of missing data, and if we have better public documentation of those steps, I think we can alleviate a lot of these issues thoroughly.
  • Data triangulation is a serious concern, and I’d like to return to data ownership for that issue. Cuz if somebody gets to decide FOR someone else whether their data gets shared, it sets up a paternal system.
  • We need to give people the most direct agency to decide whether they want their data shared or not.
  • That means giving them complete insight in what data is being stored, and individual level control about sharing or not. I think ultimately, researchers don’t need to be the ones who own the data.

[30:08] You have been called the Bernie Sanders of Open Science, which you seem to embrace. How do you see the concept of objectivity in science? Should scientists take normative stances? If so, when? How do you navigate the thin line between improving science and advocating personal political-philosophical preferences?

  • Everything’s political.
  • Objectivity in science is the result of a political process in and of itself. That objectivity is constructed, just as facts are constructed at the end of the day.
  • After all, objectivity is only approximated by our agreement of subjective experiences. Whose voices are listened to and heard in that process? Or maybe more importantly, whose voices aren’t listened to and excluded?
  • Scientists by definition take normative stances. You always take a normative stance, except that it doesn’t feel that way if it is the one that has been accepted already.
  • So I encourage people to take informed normative stances, and explain why they take those stances. You need to be cautious to not take stances because you took them before, because dogma definitely is the bane of
  • Which is also why I embrace being called the Bernie Sanders of Open Science; I think the struggles he highlights, those of inequality and injustice, also affect how we do science. It is not without reason the oligarchic publishers are problematic; it is no surprise that black people are being maltreated in academia; it is no surprise the veneer of racism is still quite alive in science.
  • I encourage everyone to reflect on what their personal political-philosophical stance is in these systems, because it is a first step to rearticulating how your everyday life looks like.

[35:09] Can you tell us a bit about the Hypergraph project you’ve been working on?

  • Hypergraph is the first implementation of the “as-you-go” research communication I talked about earlier.
  • By september, you’ll be able to share your research “as-you-go” with your peers, for free, and with complete access. Data, code, videos, text — all are part of the process.
  • All of the information shared goes into a common knowledgebase (that we call the peer-to-peer commons) and Hypergraph interfaces with that.
  • By communicating this way, we can always retrace the previous steps of whatever we’re reading in that moment. That means that if you’re reading results, you can go back and look for the data underlying those results. You can reanalyse them and add your own results, and others can do so with your work.
  • It is all about creating an open cooperative space for research to evolve.
  • Ultimately, we want to go beyond just sharing content but also providing researchers with valuable tools to make their everyday lives easier. So much work is overhead that detracts from the research itself, and that’s ineffective in times where we’re already strapped for time with all the pressures surrounding teaching, managing, and publishing.
    • An example is that we will provide tools to find replication materials in methods, and ultimately even provide ways to order replication packets with the materials needed.

Relatedly, the Hypergraph superficially reminded me of Blockchain, inasmuch that they both seem to be digital distributed ledgers. How do you feel about the hype surrounding the usage of Blockchain in Open Science and related areas such as peer review and scientific publishing?

  • I previously wrote “Concerns About Blockchain for Science” after I researched the usage of blockchain for scientific review and publishing.
  • I also organised a session during the Open Publishing Festival on “Is blockchain living up to the hype?
  • I personally feel like the usefulness is primarily overblown. Most of the issues are governance related in science, and blockchain does not necessarily change that governance. I found with the available projects, it was too much a “let’s throw tech at it” approach, which is not productive.
  • The biggest part of progress in science is about collective action, and tools won’t create that. Hypergraph won’t create that in and of itself either, which is why I focus much more about building it as a community space to collectively address issues than as a tool to address issues.

Thank your for reading and listening to this blog entry. If you want to stay updated, do keep an eye on this website, the Open Science Community Utrecht newsletter and follow us on Twitter.

Let’s Get Digital: Open Publishing & Online Conferences

In this installment of the Road to Open Science, Stefan gives a small impression of the Open Publishing Fest, hosted online in May 2020. Open Publishing is an important aspect of Open Science and intricately linked to Open Access.

By Stefan Gaillard, OSCU member and founder of the Journal of Trial and Error.

The Open Publishing Fest 2020 (I am including the year because I hope there will be future iterations) was the first fully digital conference that I attended, both as a speaker and as a participant. The Open Publishing Fest was marketed as ‘a decentralized public event that brings together communities supporting open source software, open content, and open publishing models’. Adam Hyde of the Collaborative Knowledge Foundation came up with the concept and organised it together with Dan Rudmann of Punctum Books.

Because of to my own background, I was mostly interested in talks relating to normative questions (what publishers should do, whether scientists have a moral obligation to make books publicly available, et cetera) and relating to blockchain applications for publishing. The first talk I attended was on Is blockchain living up to the hype?, with our very own Jeroen Bosman as one of the speakers. The other panelists were Gemma Milne, Abbey Titcomb, and Antonio Tenorio. All seemed to agree on one thing: so far, blockchain is not living up to the hype. The main problem seems to be that many startups are actively looking for problems with the solution (blockchain) already in their minds, instead of approaching each problem with an open mind and finding the best solution to it on a case-by-case basis. The consequences of this unfruitful approach spoke for themselves: according to Jeroen, more than 75% of the blockchain publishing startups that he followed had become inactive after about a year.   

One of the panels I was on concerned Setting up your own scientific publishing platform, with our very own Jeroen Sondervan. Also on the panel were Gabriele Marinello of Qeios Publishing and professor Jean-Sébastien Caux of SciPost. Here, we spoke about the difficulties of building an infrastructure with limited resources (both human and monetary), the relationship between publishing platforms and existing rewards and incentives structures, and much more. For the Journal of Trial and Error, we struggled a lot with these difficulties. In the beginning, many people were hesitant to publish their failure, because they were afraid it would have negative consequences for them during hiring procedures. In other words, the (perceived) rewards and incentives structure prevented honesty about the scientific process. With the aim of making the reward structure more insightful, we have started publishing rejected grant applications.  

The Fest alternated between academic discussions and performances, like the multiple CO-VID GURLS performances. The performing artist, Paula Wooh, is professionally trained as a dancer and choreographer. These streams were a welcome addition to the program, providing an escape from the daily routine of working from home and truly being ‘somewhere else’. The Fest in general did a great job of recreating the atmosphere and opportunities that physical conferences provide. Besides the talks and performances, there was an opportunity to network – always a significant aspect of traditional conferences. If you posted your name, social media handles, and research interests on a special page, visitors could find researchers interested in similar topics and connect with them via mail, Twitter, or any other digital communication tool they prefer.  

Although I, of course, hope that physical conferences will come back in the future, digital conferences do make for an excellent supplement.

All in all, the Fest was a great experience. Although I, of course, hope that physical conferences will come back in the future, digital conferences do make for an excellent supplement. Especially with cafes with workspaces opening up again, I can readily imagine myself leaning backward in a nice comfy chair, with my headset on and a glass of iced tea in my hand, listening to the latest of the latest in Open Science.

Thank your for reading this blog entry. If you want to stay updated, do keep an eye on this website, the Open Science Community Utrecht newsletter and follow us on Twitter.

Introducing the OSCU Faculty Ambassadors: II. Sander van der Laan, UMC Utrecht

In the course of the next few months, we shall introduce the OSCU Faculty Ambassadors, so that OSCU members know whom to contact and what they can expect. Ambassadors are introduced through personal interviews. In this interview, we use the term Open Science in a manner which includes Open Scholarship.

Why did you decide to apply to become an Open Science Faculty Ambassador for the Open Science Community Utrecht?
Simply put: I thought, if I feel that Open Science is important and people should ‘do’ it, I might as well try to be part of the change too. So, I looked in the mirror and tried to be the change. In addition, it’s a totally different subject compared to the contents of my actual day-job; being an ambassador is a nice change of pace.

Why is Open Science relevant for your faculty? Which element do you think is most important?
A lot of the research is publicly funded and geared towards ‘fixing’ diseases and helping patients. I think we owe it to them to do our work transparently and make our work publicly available. This way we can ensure others can benefit from our work and build on it sooner rather than later. In the end, we might cut the time needed to move from ‘bench to bedside’.

In the medical (biology) field we need to pay special attention to the interests of patients, not only in terms of privacy, but especially in terms of their disease. Openly sharing data and results, especially with the stakeholders, i.e. patients, is important, but not without challenges. In the end, I think curing diseases and respecting privacy are not mutually exclusive; if anything, being transparent about how you handle data will only engage and motivate patients and result in more support. Lastly, Open Science is important in leveling out disparities: if science is openly shared, professionals in other (less economically strong) countries can also benefit.

Scientists are usually specialized in one or two fields. How will you represent and engage with your colleagues from different fields within the same faculty?
OSCU is open to anyone, so following that principle, any suggestions are welcome. And I’d like to take this opportunity, of being an ambassador and co-organizing the symposium, to give others within the faculty a platform to share their story.

You are organizing a symposium on Open Science for your faculty. What can we expect?
You can expect a symposium with a twist. It will have the regular OSCU Symposium format, but we want to give special attention to an important stakeholder: the patient. I think the patient deserves an active role in developing Open Science, especially in the medical (biology) field.

What will you do as an Ambassador, besides organizing a symposium?
I will fuel discussions with respect to data sharing. Data sharing is a noble concept, but how does it relate to GDPR (general data protection regulation)? How should we interpret the GDPR? What are the practical implications and implementations of the GDPR? In my experience, the consequence of the GDPR (and the local AVG here in the Netherlands) is that there is a tendency to over-interpret the rules and regulations, resulting in too strict implementations. I would like to discuss this, especially in light of Open Science. Also, what do the subjects, i.e. individual patients that contributed with their personal information to the data, think about openly sharing data?

These are subjects I’d like to focus on this year. Very practically this means, that as a showcase, I will try to get data I work with ‘out in the open’ by following all the guidelines put in place since the GDPR, and locally at our institution.

Some personal ambitions are to make a GitHub template which is geared at creating a reproducible project workflow for a particular type of analysis that I do for others. My idea is to share my experience creating this, to the people around me, hopefully showing them that it is easy if you try. I also developed an in silico practical in R Notebook, which I would like to rewrite to a GitBook so that others can benefit of it as well.

Which challenges do you expect to face in the road ahead?
For Open Science in general: not much, or at least that is my positivity talking, haha. I’d like to think that we are beyond the tipping point, that people who are still reluctant to join the force will become scarce. The whole grass-roots movement, like OSCU, or other initiatives like the bioRxiv and medRxiv preprint-servers (I am a medical biologist, so biased to those), and so many initiatives to reproducible science and data sharing practically possible are creating a paradigm shift. And all this is backed by policy changes at institutions, funders, and nationally through the Ministry. One example is the prerequisite, by decree of the Dutch and European parliament, that all publicly funded research needs to be published open access. However, we are not there yet: in absolute numbers, not everyone is ‘doing’ Open Science, while many say they really want to. So, we need to stay vigilant and keep putting Open Science on the agenda of policy makers, scientists (young and old), journals, boards of directors at institutions, and society. All the while also putting money where our mouth is, so helping to provide concrete tools for ‘doing’ Open Science.

At a local level, there will be some hurdles such as the ones as I described above. I think this is something we can work on locally and share our experiences. Taking small steps locally will move the needle for Science to Open Science.

Thank your for reading this blog entry. If you want to stay updated, do keep an eye on this website, the Open Science Community Utrecht newsletter and follow us on Twitter.

Introducing the OSCU Faculty Ambassadors: I. Caspar van Lissa, Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences

In the course of the next few months, we shall introduce the OSCU Faculty Ambassadors, so that OSCU members know whom to contact and what they can expect. Ambassadors are introduced through personal interviews.

Why did you decide to apply to become an Open Science Faculty Ambassador for the Open Science Community Utrecht?
I think the move towards Open Science and Scholarship is going to be the defining paradigm shift of this new decade. People have been advocating for it since the 1800s, and there have been many small waves of interest in Open Science since then, but only today do we have the tools and infrastructure required to implement it correctly. Thus, this time, I think the new wave of interest in Open Science will take hold and succeed. I want to be part of it when that happens, but – like many colleagues – I am so busy with teaching and my Veni-funded research that I could not afford to spend the amount of time on it that I wanted. So I applied, hoping for the opportunity to devote more of my time to promoting Open Science! It is really unique that this is a fully funded position; that means that UU considers Open Science to be an important priority, and Loek Brinkman and Anita Eerland deserve a lot of credit for making that happen.

Why is Open Science relevant for your faculty? Which element do you think is most important?
The fact that Open Science is gaining momentum now is thanks, in large part, to social scientists. After several crises, like the Diederick Stapel affaire and the replication crisis, social scientists called for Open Science as an “antidote” to expose scientific fraud and abuse. I think that’s excellent, but I also believe that the vast majority of researchers are well-intentioned. Therefore, I’m much more excited about the opportunities provided by Open Science. By preregistering studies, we can eliminate publication bias, and reviewers can help improve study designs before spending money on data collection. By publishing data and code, interested readers can correct mistakes and explore alternative explanations. Moreover, you increase the value of your collected data by allowing others to use it for secondary analysis. By publishing open access, science becomes more inclusive: the public and other stakeholders gain access to scientific literature, as do researchers from low-income countries or underfunded universities. You can publish in FREE open access journals, or if you must publish in for-profit journals, then you can usually publish a preprint on PsyArxiv. The most important element is that openness accelerates cumulative science: people can benefit from all aspects of the work of their predecessors, and avoid mistakes that have already been made, which would otherwise disappear in the file drawer.

The most important element is that openness accelerates cumulative science: people can benefit from all aspects of the work of their predecessors, and avoid mistakes that have already been made, which would otherwise disappear in the file drawer.

Scientists are usually specialized in one or two fields. How will you represent and engage with your colleagues from different fields within the same faculty?
I’m lucky to have a truly interdisciplinary background. Starting with liberal arts & sciences at University College, then a research master’s degree in social psychology, a PhD in pedagogy, a post-doc in sociology, and now an assistant professorship in statistics. Today, I collaborate with people in all those fields, and additionally, with climate scientists, anthropologists, and urban geographers. Collaboration is the life blood of my department of Methodology and Statistics. We design methods for applied research, and providing free consultations for colleagues at all departments of the faculty is part of our job description. Thus, I think I am perfectly positioned to engage with colleagues from different fields.

You are organizing a symposium on Open Science and Scholarship for your faculty. What can we expect?
Like I said, Open Science has become so popular thanks to consistent activism of social scientists. Our faculty is very supportive of the move towards Open Science, and in fact, our Dean (Marcel van Aken) is an Open Science advocate and expert. Thus, I’m happy to say that we can expect a real tour-de-force from our faculty symposium! The program will be opened by our Dean Marcel van Aken, followed by a keynote from prof. Marcel van Assen from the Meta-research center about how openness will mend science. We proceed with six short, but information-packed presentations about various challenges and solutions in Open Science, including the pitfalls of Open Science (prof. Rens van de Schoot) how to engage the public (Madelijn Strick), preregistration for existing datasets (Stefanos Mastrotheodoros and Gaetan Mertens), the benefits of sharing materials (Anouk van Dijk and Valeria Bonapersona), free open-source research software (prof. Herbert Hoijtink), and Open Science workflows (Caspar van Lissa).

My personal goal is to develop a super simple, standard open workflow that anyone can use with an afternoon’s practice to meet the requirements of ‘Open Science’.

What will you do as an Ambassador, besides organizing a symposium?
My personal goal is to develop a super simple, standard open workflow that anyone can use with an afternoon’s practice to meet the requirements of ‘Open Science’. I find that many people are highly motivated to ‘do Open Science’, but it’s often difficult to find out how. So my solution is to make it easier to get started. I’ve written an R-package that includes an Rstudio project template completely optimized for Open Science, and written a tutorial paper describing the workflow. These can be found at https://osf.io/zcvbs/. For the next months, anyone who wants to contribute to this project is welcome to join as a coauthor. Many people in our community have expertise that complements mine, and I want to ‘crowdsource’ the writing to make this a really robust tutorial. Aside from that, I’m participating in several conference sessions about Open Science, and in each of these sessions, I want to crowdsource all challenges and solutions of the attendees. The idea is, again, that their contributions are incorporated into new papers to address field-specific Open Science challenges. Everyone who contributes can be a coauthor.

Which challenges do you expect to face in the road ahead?
Within our University, I foresee few challenges. There is so much momentum for Open Science, with several complementing programs: The Open Science platform constitutes a top-down advisory organ, the Open Science program coordinates university-wide actions with regard to Open Access, FAIR data and software, Public Engagement and Rewards and incentives, and the Open Science Community harnesses grass-roots support amongst employees. The more important challenges I think are external. First, there will be a difficult shift away from traditional for-profit publishing towards free open access. The universities are underfunded, and we are losing too much money to publishers while the tools already exist to host free open access journals (like our own Journal of Trial and Error). Secondly, there is a tension between the ideals of open access, and increasing ethical scrutiny on data collection. Universities risk losing the battle for high-quality data to companies with far less ethical scruples. I think the solution is to revise data protection laws. European citizens should own their data, and be able to license it for third-party use. This way, researchers would be able to request, e.g., all social media data and obtain it directly from that individual. Companies would be required to go through the same route. Considering how valuable the industry around data science has become, it is only fair that people should control who accesses their information.

Thank your for reading this blog entry. If you want to stay updated, do keep an eye on this website, the Open Science Community Utrecht newsletter and follow us on Twitter.

Open Science Symposium – Starting off with the Natural Sciences

On February 6, the Open Science Community Utrecht (OSCU) organized a symposium on Open Science at the Faculty of Science of Utrecht University. Guest blogger Max Bautista Perpinyà, student member of OSCU, visited this symposium to get an impression of the latest developments in Open Science for the natural sciences. Together with OSCU resident science journalist Stefan Gaillard he wrote an impression of the event, covering some but not all of the lectures. [This article appeared simultaneously on jtrialerror.com]  

The first ever symposium on Open Science at the Faculty of Science of Utrecht University achieved what these symposiums are for. They set the mood for new ways of doing science, and build community by providing not just an ethos, but also very specific tools for researchers of different domains. 

As Open Science symposia go, they tend to be filled by an optimistic crowd, mostly researchers sharing their knowledge and teaching others how to share theirs. It was therefore refreshing to see not only researchers, but other important stakeholders of science. Library staff and faculty administrators are crucial in the process of making Open Science a reality, and their presence was much appreciated.

As Open Science symposia go, they tend to be filled by an optimistic crowd.

From the Faculty, Dean Isabel Arends encouraged the community to keep pushing forward the ideals of openness, and made the commitment of doing what is in the administration’s power to ‘facilitate’ them. And while ideals are inspiring and necessary, this symposium was overall informative and offered a variety of tools for us researchers to use. 

The keynote address was by Erik van Sebille, oceanographer and chair of the ‘University and Society’ study group of the 2020-2024 UU Strategic Plan. Van Sebille showed his efforts concerning making the ‘workflow of scientific knowledge more open’. In the field of computational physics, GitHub is an extremely useful tool to work with the global research community. For example, his team’s code Parcels analyses the movement of particles (like the ‘plastic soup’) throughout the oceans, and is openly accessible (anyone can contribute by reporting bugs, improving it, using it…). 

After the plastic soup in our oceans, physicist Sanli Faez provided the audience with another recipe. This time it was the ingredients for a healthy and tasty open community. With ‘the need of belonging’ as a principle of Open Science, Faez suggested that in order to move from a egocentric to a networked structure of science, we could look up to other successful communities, like Mozilla (check their extensive list of resources), and the Global Village Construction Set, with their grand vision of reconstructing civilisation with open source industrial machinery. In thinking about the recurring debates on recognition and reward in the new Open Science era, Faez recommended the work of second-wave feminist Jo Freeman in ‘The tyranny of Structurelessnes’, which gives specific suggestions for how necesary it is to establish a structure within a community, ensuring a fair and democratic allocation of responsability, power, and yes: credit. An important aspect in scientific practice, and which Open Science aims, first of all – to have conversations explicitly and transparently. 

While in the computational world and physics departments sharing code is a well-established tradition, in the field of structural biology things look slightly different. Tzviya Zeev-Ben-Mordehai is working in a very competitive field and acknowledges that the fear of getting “scooped” prevents scientists from sharing their advances in the long process of decoding proteins’ molecular structures. In this field of biology, non-fair play seems to have itself a long tradition. Mordehai cited the widely-known case of Francis Crick and James Watson, who in the early 1950s got (somehow) hold of Rosalind Franklin’s ‘photo 51’, which helped them decisively in deciphering DNA’s structure in 1953. However, not all is bad news in the world of proteins and genes. Since early 1971 the WorldWide Protein Data Bank (wwPDB) has hosted the results of scientists throughout the globe working on establishing the 3D structures of proteins and nucleic acids. Moreover, Mordehai says, the wwPDB is curated , which ensures quality information. Important also is the fact that it is a requirement for the majority of journals that scientists first deposit their results in the database before heading for the press, which ensures proper recognition and open accessibility to the information. 

Then, it was the turn of PhD student in molecular plant physiology Laura Dijkhuizen, who shared the progress of making their ongoing research more open. For their bioinformatic study of plant meta-genomics, Dijkhuizen uses tools such as e-labjournal, protocol.io and GitHub to make code openly available, but also to help them in project management tasks. 

Conclusion
The Open Science Symposium at the Faculty of Science at Utrecht University was a strong kick off to the series of symposia that the Open Science Community Utrecht (OSCU) will be hosting this year. The organisation, location and speakers were all excellent – a promising indication of how the next six symposia might look like. Besides the speakers mentioned in this article, fantastic talks were provided by Wouter van Joolingen on ‘How to make research accessible for practitioners?’, by Enrico Mastrobattista on ‘The Reproducibility Crisis in the Life and Pharmaceutical sciences’ and by Armel Lefebvre on ‘Computational Reproducibility and Lab Forensics’. Hopefully OSCU can continue to find a way to bring something interesting for researchers from all disciplines, while at the same time preventing too much overlap between the symposia. Regardless, bottom-up Open Science seems to have made a large breakthrough at Utrecht University.  

Thank your for reading this blog entry. If you want to stay updated, do keep an eye on this website, the Open Science Community Utrecht newsletter and follow us on Twitter.

‘No Fee Science’ – interview with Christopher Stevens

In this installment of the Road to Open Science, we interview Christopher James Stevens, initiator of the No Fee Science movement – a campaign for more profound Open Science. Christopher is a PhD candidate in France and the No Fee Science manifesto was the first grassroots francophone Open Science initiative of its kind. We interviewed him to get his perspective on why Open Science should be completely free, both for scientists seeking to publish and for potential readers. [Open Science, when used in this article, is meant in the sense of Open Science and Scholarship, so including all the academic disciplines. Views expressed by Stevens do no necessarily reflect those of the Open Science Community Utrecht.]

Christopher, can you shortly describe your academic background?
My serious academic studies began late, at 28 – after wandering around for 10 years variously dressed in a suit or Megadeth t-shirt. At the height of the 2008 economic crisis, I moved to Paris to study political philosophy. During my degree I lost some faith in the capacity of politics to effect profound lasting change, except in education. This led me to a master’s degree in Philosophy of Science and the Mind at the Université Paris-Sorbonne, where I began directing my research towards cognitive dissonance and pluralism.

Over those two years I lost faith again, this time in philosophy’s obsession with pontificating on science it knew very little about. I realized I had no practical knowledge of what doing science involved. So, at that point, I threw myself into the study of biology, talked my way into a two year master’s degree in neuroscience and ended up being awarded a PhD grant at the end of it.

What are you currently working on?
With my own funding to do a PhD, I was able to propose a project of my own, conducted in collaboration with the great Marighetto and Marsicano teams at the Neurocentre Magendie in Bordeaux. Though I see myself as a bit of a philosophical mole working in science, and in fact I’m simultaneously working on a philosophy PhD under the supervision of Barbara Stiegler at the Université Bordeaux-Montaigne.

My neuroscience research explores the neurobiology of confirmation bias. People seem to think confirmation bias is too complex to be found in ‘lower’ mammals. However, I didn’t see any reason to believe that naturally curious animals capable of rule-learning wouldn’t also display confirmation bias given the right circumstances. And they do! I’ve designed and validated the first animal model of this phenomenon.

In philosophy, my focus is still (science) education, closely tied to my work in neuroscience. The strength of confirmation bias that manifests in the activities of researchers themselves can be seen as a function of dogmatic thought habits, something which should be combated since the earliest school introductions to science. Critical thinking, of course, is key, but also what I call cognitive pluralism, which is the idea of holding more than one theoretical explanation for a set of phenomena in your mind/brain at the same time.

Critical thinking, of course, is key, but also what I call cognitive pluralism.

According to you, what are the structural problems underlying the current situation in academia? You seem to, for example, take issue with the economic structures surrounding science publishing?
I think I have learned more about these structural problems since publishing the #NoFeeScience manifesto than I knew when we first wrote it! I state this openly, because the original intention of the manifesto was to really highlight the moral problems with how science is currently communicated and evaluated. If we take science as having some kind of purpose or goal, then some actions will be apt for moving towards that goal, while other actions will cause movement away from it. Since I believe the goal of science should be to enrich the human experience of, in a nutshell, life, the universe, and everything, then anything that moves science away from that end becomes morally problematic.

I believe the goal of science should be to enrich the human experience of life, the universe, and everything.

The fact that the results of scientific research are not freely available to all curious individuals moves us away from the aforementioned goal of science. The fact that, with regards to publications, the scientific community values surface prestige (legacy journals, impact factor, etc.) over careful examination of content also moves us away from that goal. Institutionalized prestige seeking, which those who view themselves as winners (or potential winners!) are not willing to let go of, is both the foundation upon which the current publishing model was built and the carrot that is used to keep selling it to the community. If there’s a central structural problem, it’s this last one.

So what’s the primary purpose of the #NoFeeScience movement?
The primary purpose of #NoFeeScience can be found in the second slogan we use in our material; #MarchForBetterScience. Like the manifesto states, scientific knowledge should be made ‘fully and freely accessible to one and all’. When I moved into science, I very quickly saw how petty, ego-centered and very unedifying much of accepted scientific activity actually is. I had come into science from philosophy, armed with these grand ideas for revolutionizing scientific education with the aim of provoking a revolution of the human mind. Instead of fertile ground for progress, I found a scientific enterprise that was willfully entangled in a system of knowledge communication and evaluation whose intellectual immaturity beggared belief. Yet this very enterprise was parading around asking the wider public to entrust the welfare of the entire planet to it!

I had come into science from philosophy, armed with these grand ideas for revolutionizing scientific education…

Once I started seeing movements like #MarchForScience and #NoFakeScience insisting that the public needed to place more trust in scientists, it seemed an obvious time for a voice to shout back that this trust needed to be earned. The #NoFeeScience manifesto aimed to ‘raise the alarm on the availability of scientific information in the public sphere’. If science genuinely wants the nations and powers of the world to behave better, so to speak, then it needs to lead by practical, visible example! In that sense, the overriding aim was to hold a mirror up to science, to reveal how deeply undemocratic its internal values have become and how far it had departed from any genuine societal or indeed species-wide concerns. Plus, this undemocratic and ego-elevating structure actually multiplies the probability that bad science gets done.

What challenges have you encountered since you’ve started the #NoFeeScience movement?
Well, as you may have gathered by now, the views expressed in the manifesto were not designed with diplomacy in mind. We did go to pains to underline our understanding of the fact that many researchers, especially young ones, are trapped by this prestige system – wherein publishing in a prestigious journal is the best way to advance your career and the most prestigious journals are not open access. However, this concession to the pressure weighing upon individual researchers’ publishing choices was, I think, lost beneath the weight of the overall punch.

…the views expressed in the manifesto were not designed with diplomacy in mind…

As a result, despite great support from those who signed the manifesto, it didn’t spread very fast, because every researcher who felt themselves a target thereby became a wall of resistance to it. I highlighted this point recently when a petition against certain comments by the president of the CNRS (Centre National de Recherche Scientifique) went viral within the French research community, gaining over 5,000 signatures in a matter of days. Ultimately, that petition and our manifesto were decrying some very similar things, with the essential difference that one was pointing the finger only at an external big bad wolf whereas the other was pointing the finger inward at internal complicity, and indeed complacency.

In short, it’s very easy to sign a petition and make noise about a cause that implies no changes in one’s own actions! In science, we should be able to speak plainly, not feel obliged to cushion hard truths, and that’s the road we went down. This also meant that we got little to no support from much of the ‘official’ diplomatic open science movement in France, which was quite disheartening. Thankfully, Bernard Rentier, former rector of the Université de Liège and author of the excellent Open Science, the Challenge of Transparency, found and signed the manifesto. This showed us that there were others in the francophone open science movement who were willing to openly articulate plain truths. No one can read the #NoFeeScience manifesto without being obliged to take a good hard look at their own practices towards genuine improvement of science.

Finally, and I think most unfortunately, we also lost out on signatures from young researchers who were worried about what their non-open science practicing supervisors and lab heads would think.

Were you surprised by some of the challenges – like worried young researchers – or were they something you saw coming from the start?
Naively, I thought the manifesto would reach critical mass and spread a lot faster than it did. Initially, we had worried only that it was perhaps too long. Since we wanted it to be as comprehensive as possible, it kept getting longer as we went from draft to draft, but at least it now serves as a complete summary of the current situation in scientific publishing, something which in French there aren’t many examples of.

I also thought we would get more support from open science advocates in France, but it seemed that they had become content at this point to simply allow Plan S and the French ‘Comité pour la science ouverte’ to take over the work. However, both movements consist of simply pushing new obligations onto how scientists publish. Obliging someone to do something can never replace attempts to make that person understand why they should wish the change themselves! If a scientist doesn’t understand that open science is just science done right, then there is something missing from their understanding of what science is, and merely obliging them to act otherwise will not wake them up to that. As for young researchers who felt too intimidated by their superiors to sign, this is something we had anticipated.

What drew you to Open Science in the first place?
Paywalls! The first paywalls I encountered were on papers in the humanities – philosophy, history, etc. I couldn’t believe it. They just instantly struck me as profoundly wrong. Science, historically, has liked to distinguish itself from religion, but the state of science today has often reminded me of the story of Jesus going into the temple and casting out the money-changers in righteous anger. Paywalls cheapen what should be the greatest collective intellectual achievement of humanity, and in that sense I think science, just like religion, has strayed too far from its initial ideals. Just another stall in the marketplace. So yeah, let’s get paywalls (and exorbitant pay-to-publish fees along with them!) the hell out of our research temple!

Would you say that Open Science is more of an ideological movement, or a practical solution to specific problems?
I certainly don’t think it’s black and white in that sense. Open access leans more towards being an ideological movement whereas open science (data sharing, methodological transparency, etc.) is a practical solution to problems such as replicability, and so on. However, it’s generally accepted that you can’t have genuine open science without open access. This intertwining of ideology and practicality is, from my perspective, the pragmatic beauty of the movement; open science is the right thing to do, but it’s also the best thing to do for science. Those who tend to be more ideological need to keep this practical side in mind, and vice versa.

Those who tend to be more ideological need to keep this practical side in mind, and vice versa.

What do you think of top-down implementations of Open Science, for instance through the EU, like Plan S?
I was very excited when Plan S was first announced in September 2018. Then, after the first round of feedback, they announced the revised version in May 2019 and they seemed to have rolled back on a lot of what had made it seem great. Hybrid journals (some articles paywalled, others OA) were back in on the grounds of ‘academic freedom’ (ha!), the whole timeframe had been delayed by a year, and so on and so forth.

Around August 2019, I started looking into the various kinds of feedback that had been returned by different collectives of researchers. Some thought it a scandal, complaining about an attack on their ‘academic freedom’ to choose to publish in limited access journals (apparently the irony escaped them), while others thought Plan S didn’t go far enough into promoting full open science practices. Plan S seemed to encourage gold open access (author pays an article processing charge to publish an article, thus financing the journal) more than what is referred to as platinum open access (author pays nothing to publish, journal is funded through other channels).

How best to publish scientific results is a question that should be looked at scientifically, not managerially. The scientific community needs to decide what the most democratic, fertile, and transparent publishing model is and then look at how this can be financed. ‘Ten Hot Topics Around Scholarly Publishing‘ is a great paper that attempts this kind of approach. Currently there are too many managerial minds involved and they’ve been spoiling the broth for long enough. The scientific community needs to take back control of how science is done and funded.

How do you try to incorporate Open Science best practices into your own work?
Since I’m still working on my PhDs, I only have a couple of papers to speak of so far. To this point, incorporating open science best practices in my own work has sometimes involved stepping away from publications which I didn’t believe in. To be frank, if the worst came to the worst, I’d prefer to work a normal 9 to 5 rather than succeed at the science game through science I can’t in good conscience be proud of and communicate openly. Fortunately, now with open data upload platforms and pre-print sites such as Biorxiv, it is possible to complement the ‘official’ published version with all the work, including both positive and negative results, which led to it. And, of course, it’s out of the question that any of my first author papers will appear behind a paywall.

I’d prefer to work a normal 9 to 5 rather than succeed at the science game through science I can’t in good conscience be proud of and communicate openly.

Besides your own project, could you tell us about a development or project within Open Science that caught your eye and that you admire?
I’ll give two brief examples. One is the Open Science MOOC, an online training course in best open science practices. When first approaching open science through the literature, it can seem a bit of a jungle, so a video training course like this, with certificates of accomplishment included, is an excellent way to ease things in.

Open access to bad science will be nothing to celebrate!

The other is the work of Björn Brembs, who has authored many papers and blog entries on the subject. He has an innovative take on the open access question: we should already start taking open access as a given and now shift our attention to the deeper improvements of science that are also needed; more rigorous evaluation, better replication processes, etc. As he quite correctly puts it, open access to bad science will be nothing to celebrate! This take can seem like a slap in the face at first, since we all still work so hard to attain open access, but there is a deeper insight there which cannot be ignored; open science goes far beyond open access to science, and that’s why we need our vision of the scientific enterprise to go far beyond open access too.

Thank your for reading this blog entry. If you want to stay updated, do keep an eye on this website, the Open Science Community Utrecht newsletter and follow us on Twitter.

The Road to Open Science Continues…

Welcome to the sequel to the Road to Open Science! You might know the Road to Open Science as  the podcast first presented by Sanli Faez and later by Bianca Kramer and Jeroen Bosman. You can find the first few episodes here and I would highly recommend that you give them a listen as these episodes touch upon the foundations of Open Science and are now perhaps more relevant than ever. In the meantime I, Stefan Gaillard, will continue the Road to Open Science project with some help from Bianca and Jeroen, albeit in a slightly new format. In addition to podcasts, I will also work on written texts, vlogs and whatever else might seem like an interesting format. Below you can find a textual interview with myself.   

What is your scientific background?
‘I come from a diverse scientific background: I have expertise in history, philosophy and psychology. Right now, I mostly work on history and philosophy of science. Combining these multidisciplinary interests into a transdisciplinary framework hasn’t always been easy. I took part in the Graduate Honours Interdisciplinary Seminars, which really helped me to unify multiple aspects of various fields and taught me how to apply interdisciplinary theory and methodology to scientific challenges.

Having completed this honors program, I am currently investigating the psychological aspects of susceptibility to fake news – together with an interdisciplinary team of multiple students and professor Michael Burke. I believe we need interdisciplinarity to properly understand and contribute to Open Science, while at the same time Open Science enables interdisciplinary research. I was already interested in Open Science before really exploring interdisciplinarity, though.’        

What motivates you?
‘What always drives me is a probably somewhat naïve optimism. An optimism related to a more open, free society. In my opinion, it’s impossible to separate science from things like government, the private sector, and culture. For example, independent science (an unreachable ideal that we must continuously strive for) is only possible under conditions that are dependent on the role of government and companies in society. This role in turn depends on cultural attitudes among the citizens of the countries in which these governments and companies operate.

I truly believe that in the complex system that the modern world has become, decentralization, bottom-up initiatives, and diversity of all kinds enable us to adequately address contemporary challenges. The Open Science Community Utrecht is precisely such a bottom-up initiative, and I am incredibly excited to work with them.’  

How else does this motivation relate to Open Science and Scholarship?
‘What I find most attractive about Open Science and Scholarship (sometimes used interchangeably with Open Science) is the idea that it enables forms of citizen science, citizen medicine and citizen journalism; in essence, open science and scholarship provides critical civilians of all stripes with the tools necessary to hold scientists and politicians accountable. This might be an unpopular opinion in the age of widespread fake news coverage and increased polarization with regards to manmade climate change, but I wholeheartedly believe in a healthy symbiosis between laypeople and professionals.

I wholeheartedly believe in a healthy symbiosis between laypeople and professionals.

A nice example of this at our own university is the Nieuwe Utrechtse School (New Utrecht School), a medical humanities initiative that brings medical professionals, patients and humanities scholars together. While the theories and methods are grounded in academic medical, narrative and phenomenological theories, the viewpoint of the patient is continuously taken into account. The input of the layperson is crucial for the professional, who in turn helps the layperson with their healing or coping process.’        

What can we expect on this science blog?
‘As I wrote earlier, you can expect many different formats on this blog, ranging from written texts to podcasts and vlogs. I will cover global trends in Open Science, but my primary focus will remain on open manners in the Netherlands and Utrecht specifically.

A sample of the next few posts hopefully illustrates this diversity. These coming months, you can enjoy an interview with Christopher James Stevens, initiator of the #NoFeeScience; a roadmap by data visual computing scientist Victor Schetinger; and interviews with the Open Science ambassadors at Utrecht University.

However, there is still room for much more! I hope to engage with academics from all fields with regards to open manners. I encourage you all to leave comments with your critical thoughts or questions on this website and/or on Twitter. If you would like to see an entry on a particular subject, would like to be interviewed or if you want to provide a guest post, please mail me.

Thank your for reading this blog entry. If you want to stay updated, do keep an eye on this website, the Open Science Community Utrecht newsletter and follow us on Twitter.