Blog: the Road to Open Science

Looking back on the Open Science Symposium for Social and Behavioural Sciences

Due to Corona, we decided to continue our series of Open Science Symposia in an online format. The first edition, geared towards the faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, took place on September 10. With inspiring talks, practical use-cases, interesting discussions and almost 60 attendees this event was a BIG success! Marcel van Aken, the dean of the faculty, kicked off the symposium and was very clear: “Open Science is here, and here to stay!” He indicated that at his faculty, a lot of the research is already open, but there is room for further implementation of Open Science practices. One aspect of this improvement is the assembling of a Faculty Open Science Team, chaired by dean himself. This team will work on a roadmap on how to implement Open Science within the faculty. The OSCU Faculty Ambassador for FSS, Caspar van Lissa, will be part of this team.

After the opening of the symposium, Marcel van Assen, meta-scientist from Tilburg University, gave a key-note on how Open Science can mend science. He highlighted several issues, such as replication problems and publication bias, and how Open Science practices, such as pre-registration and registered reports may help to solve such issues. 

Next, UU employees shared Open Science use-cases with their colleagues. Madelijn Strick gave an overview of Public Engagement activities aimed at stakeholders, general public, and researchers. Public Engagement is becoming a full academic topic that assesses its impact, for example by measuring peoples attitudes before and after public engagement activities. 

The OSCU Faculty Ambassadors from Medicine, Law, Economics, and Governance, Veterinary Medicine, and the Humanities discussed several challenging issues of Open Sciences, formulated by Rens van de Schoot. This discussion clearly demonstrated the importance of different perspectives on Open Science and how we could benefit from other disciplines.       

Caspar van Lissa introduced a workflow that he developed with others to work in an open and reproducible way (WORCS). It is based on R and is a one-stop solution for transitioning to a fully open workflow. You can watch the tutorial here.       

How do you preregister analyses, in particular those of secondary data analyses? Gaëtan Mertens and Stefanos Mastrotheodoros covered this topic and showcased a template, with room for both explorative and confirmative analyses. 

Anouk van Dijk, talked about the use of the Open Science Framework (OSF) for sharing materials. The advantages of OSF are multifold; it facilitates collaborations, makes materials citable, and saves colleagues a lot of time! Valeria Bonapersona added her experience with the power of sharing. For her, it is all about: “What is the kind of researcher that I want to be.” She has very good experiences with Shiny apps, which are  interactive applications, based on R, which allow anyone to interact with her data in a very user-friendly way. In terms of impact, the Shiny app is used much more often than the corresponding paper is read.      

Herbert Hoijting introduced JASP, free open-source software for statistical analysis, which can be used in research and education. It can do everything that SPSS can do, has a similar look-and-feel, with the added benefit that you can add new modules or statistical packages, that are then shared with all users. Herbert is actively looking for UU colleagues who want to add their statistical modules to JASP. He has resources to help you out. So please contact him if you want to contribute to JASP!     

In short, we look back on a very inspiring afternoon in which a broad spectrum of Open Science practices were covered. As Marcel van Assen indicated in his key-note lecture, the manner in which science is organized is still very young and far from perfect. This symposia showed many concrete examples of tools and practices that we can use to improve science.

Slides and other materials can be found at: https://osf.io/bpe2j/

Why Open Science is the Road to the Future

In this article, guest contributor and OSCU Faculty Ambassador Sander van der Laan gives his vision on why Open Science (including Open Scholarship) is essential for the progression of science. [This article appeared previously on the intranet of UMC Utrecht]  

Valentine’s Day
On Friday, February 14, 2020, scientists, educators and other interested parties came together for the Symposium “For the Love of Science” organized by YoungSiT (follow us on Twitter @SciTransitYoung). The participants appeared in large numbers and not just for free drinks afterwards. They all shared one passion: Science. An exciting program of talks and workshops guided the enthusiastic participants through concepts such as “Open Science”, “Outreach & Communication”, and “Career & Reward” (Figure 1). Professor Cecile Janssens concluded with her story about better science through “slow science”.

Looking back, we can be satisfied with what we achieved that day. The dean promised to dedicate himself to the three main themes and received a lasting memory of that day (a unique illustration created exclusively by Jeroen Krul, Figure 2).

It was a Friday filled with Love for Science, and a passion and urge to make the (scientific) world a little bit better. Valentine’s Day was an energizer for the rest of 2020.

Figure 1: On the participants of “For the Love of Science 2020”.

Figure 2: Unique illustration of Jeroen Krul presented to the dean by YoungSiT on February 14th.

Contagion 2020
What bloomed those first weeks of 2020, was suddenly gagged when the cabinet announced an “intelligent lockdown” after a mutated version of the SARS virus spread. The world fell under the spell of #COVID19, “R0”, Philips’ ventilation equipment, “Frontline stories”, and the latest figures from RIVM and Johns Hopkins1 – Jeroen Pauw led the conversation on NPO1 for one last time. Research and education at our institute was halted and all eyes were on the ever-dwindling number of IC beds available, while outside people applauded for their neighbor who kept the care going. Suddenly Contagion was no longer “just a movie” – it had become the harsh reality in 20202.

In all its misery, #COVID19 also turned out to be a blessing in disguise for science and #OpenScience. The gravity of the situation became apparent in a matter of weeks, and the world looked to science for solutions: a vaccine, treatments, rapid diagnostic tests, knowledge about the virus, an analysis of what was to come. Scientists around the world worked day and night to crack the genetic code of the SARS-Cov-2. Within a few weeks the first preprints appeared on bioRxiv and medRxiv3, and now almost 7 months later there are more than 8,500 submitted manuscripts on these preprint servers (± 34 per day since 1/1/2020). In no time, preprint servers became the scientific equivalent of cnn.com for the latest news about #COVID19 – every finding was shared openly with everyone as soon as possible.

In our own hospital, Marc Bonten and colleagues from Radboud UMC quickly set up a clinical study to investigate the effects of BCG vaccination against COVID19 placebo-controlled4, and Folkert Asselbergs and Marijke Linschoten started the CAPACITY COVID Register5 to study the effects in patients with cardiovascular disease6. Across the Atlantic, writer Carl Zimmer et al. tracks vaccine development for The New York Times7. It was unimaginable 6 months ago (to me at least) that there are now 9 potential vaccines in ‘phase 3 trials’8,9 and that there are already 3 vaccines available (albeit on a small scale and with the caveat that at least the Russian vaccine has skipped a step)10. In Boston, scientists who normally decipher the human genome have teamed up to help the community test for #COVID19. In March they converted the genetic lab into a large #COVID19 test lab11 and the BROAD Institute has now processed more than 1.4 million tests12.

#OpenScience is #TeamScience
#COVID19 shattered communities, the economy and the budgets of countries and regions13, but the virus seems to have made the scientific world even closer. Scientists from all kinds of fields have come together to work together in the combat of the pandemic and to share knowledge: #TeamScience on a roll. #COVID19 shows that #OpenScience works, and with it #TeamScience too – not just now, but always.

#COVID19 shows that #OpenScience works, and with it #TeamScience too – not just now, but always.

A shining example of #TeamScience to me, but I am biased14, is the COVID19 Host Genetics Initiative (HGI) led by Andrea Ganna and Mark Daly15. More than 200 studies provide data to investigate the genetic causes of illness and death from #COVID19. In accordance with the #OpenScience principle, analysis protocols and the results are shared, while different teams of experts answer the main and sub questions. This summer, a genetic study from Germany, Italy and Spain was published16 showing a relationship with a region on the genome that codes for blood types (ABO, Figure 3). Commercial parties are also trying to collect and share knowledge about #COVID19 – 23andMe (a company that sells genetic tests), for example, conducted a study in more than 1 million people, confirming the previously found association with ABO17 (although the jury is not yet out, on the variation in ABO and susceptibility of #COVID19). Previously we wrote about the usefulness of such large-scale genetic studies18 and others showed that when genetics is taken into account during drug development, putative drug candidates are more likely to make it to the finish line19.

Figure 3:  This “Manhattan” plot visualizes the results of a genome-wide association study (GWAS) on COVID-19 with severe lung failure. Each point is 1 genetic variation in the genome (a “single-nucleotide polymorphism”, SNP [pronounced “snip”]) of which approximately 9 million were measured and tested in this study16. The chromosomal location is on the x-axis and on the y-axis the –log10 of the p-value. So a p value of 10-8 becomes 8 on the y-axis. The dashed gray line indicates the genome-wide significance level, calculated as -log10 (5.0 x 10-8), which equates to approximately 7.3. The highest two ‘towers’ in this figure show a region with, among other things, the CXCR6 gene (which plays a role in HIV) and a region at ABO, the gene that codes for the blood types (adaptation of a figure and text published elsewhere16).

Outreach & Communication
The team behind #COVID19 HGI is also a good example when it comes to Outreach & Communication. The #OpenScience approach almost automatically leads to a wider reach of science. All layers of the scientific community are approached, but patients and policy makers are also involved. Andrea Ganna’s team previously did this when they studied the genetics of “same-sex behavior”20. A loaded topic that sparked fierce discussions on Twitter and in other media, but also one where – again – The BROAD Institute facilitated the debate and devoted an extensive blog to it21. #OpenScience is good for healthy scientific debate. Andrea Ganna’s team did not shy away from the debate, and from the outset tried to involve all kinds of stakeholders (including outspoken critics), witness https://geneticsexbehavior.info/. Spoiler alert: a “gay gene” obviously does not exist.

#TeamScience also means that old ranking systems and tools to measure scientists really do not work anymore – if ever they did.

Career & Rewards
#TeamScience also means that old ranking systems and tools to measure scientists really do not work anymore – if ever they did. #TeamScience and #OpenScience are Science in Transition through and through. The days of Leonardo Da Vinci are over, the Homo universalis has not existed for the past 501 years. To solve the big issues (#COVID19!) you need the expertise of many. And so, valuing the individual on the basis of rankings, impact factors, H-indices or his position on a paper is no longer appropriate.

Fortunately, many scientists and policymakers also recognize this issue. In November 2019 a position paper from NWO, ZonMW, NFU, and VSNU described a new plan to recognize and value researchers, in which quality takes precedence over quantity, and #TeamScience is just as important as the individual22

This was also the prelude to the digital Symposium on the theme Career & Rewards, which YoungSiT organized on September 3rd. More than 70 visitors listened carefully to the forthcoming plans of Utrecht University through Paul Boselie: in the coming 12 months, UU will take all kinds of initiatives to put the vision of the aforementioned position paper into practice. For example, the MERIT system will be introduced; a scientist should not be a five-legged sheep, nor a one-trick pony23. The assessment of the scientist should be done on the basis of core domains (Management, Education, Research, Impact, and Team player), taking into account the personal preferences of the individual, who is not having to do everything excellently. Annemijn Algra (YoungSiT, resident neurology) presented the success story of the New Recognition & Valuation of assessing young doctors and researchers in training24 as conceived by her and two other YoungSiT team members, Inez Koopman and Rozemarijn Snoek. Kristine Steenbergh25 came to share the Young Academy’s vision on this subject. Lucille Mattijssen, chair of PhD Network Netherlands26, shared the first results of a survey27 among PhD students in the Netherlands, showing that many PhDs have burnout symptoms, among other things, fueled by the Old Recognition & Valuation28. Just like Annemijn, Inze and Rozemarijn, Rick Bonants, partnering with Chiel van Hal, tries to give a head and tail to the New Recognition & Valuation, but this time in the form of a start-up, InSci, which is developing an online platform with which the scientific can be followed and assessed based on this new vision. Did you miss the Symposium? Don’t worry: you can stream the full-feature action movie again for free here.

Road to the Science of the Future
In short, #ScienceMatters. Now, in these days of#COVID19, but it is timeless. Humans are curious to the core and this urge to know ourselves and the world around us has led to fantastic discoveries (gravity and chloroplasts) and brilliant applications (velcro and MRI). Many questions about #COVID19 remain open, and only #OpenScience and #TeamScience will be able to answer them. What if the Russian vaccine unexpectedly gives side effects29? Will society then lose faith in vaccination? What are the psychological effects of working from home for a long time and little social (and physical) interaction? Do apparently healthy top athletes indeed have an inflamed heart muscle due to #COVID1930? What does the correlation between a high BMI and a higher risk of dying from #COVID19 mean? What is the role of blood types and the risk of death from #COVID19?

Despite (or thanks to?) #COVID19, hundreds of scientists from different disciplines are now working together even more efficiently and purposefully to tackle the pandemic.

Despite (or thanks to?) #COVID19, hundreds of scientists from different disciplines are now working together even more efficiently and purposefully to tackle the pandemic. This often happens “remotely” and concepts such as “let’s zoom” are now commonplace. Ultimately, the begeisterung – this primal passion that drives and energizes a scientist – wins from the dreadful cuts31, the tremendous workload32, political stunts33,34, populist demagoguery35, and the pandemic. Post #COVID19 only a few remain in the Elfenbeinturm.

#COVID19 shows that #OpenScience and #TeamScience are the key to scientific success and a successful society – now, at the time of this pandemic, and in the future. Knowledge is power, and knowledge is freedom.

Sander W. van der Laan, @swvanderlaan

Faculteit Ambassadeur Open Science Community Utrecht, @OpenSciUtrecht

Member of Young Science in Transition, @SciTransitYoung

References

1.   University, J. H. COVID-19 map-Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. (2020).

2.   Soderbergh, S. Contagion. (2011).

3.   COVID-19 SARS-CoV-2 preprints from medRxiv and bioRxiv. https://connect.biorxiv.org/relate/content/181.

4.   Internationaal onderzoek met BCG-vaccin tegen COVID-19 bij zorgmedewerkers ook van start in Nederland – UMC Utrecht. https://www.umcutrecht.nl/nieuws/studie-naar-tuberculose-vaccin-tegen-covid-19.

5.   Studie naar relatie corona/hart- & vaatziekten. https://www.umcutrecht.nl/nieuws/studie-naar-relatie-corona-hart-vaatziekten.

6.   Linschoten, M. & Asselbergs, F. W. CAPACITY-COVID: a European Registry to determine the role of cardiovascular disease in the COVID-19 pandemic. Eur. Heart J. 41, 1795–1796 (2020).

7.   Corum, J., Grady, D., Wee, S.-L. & Zimmer, C. Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker. The New York Times (2020).

8.   Seladi-Schulman, J. Clinical Trial Phases: What Happens in Phase 0, I, II, III, and IV. https://www.healthline.com/health/clinical-trial-phases (2018).

9.   Wikipedia contributors. Phases of clinical research. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Phases_of_clinical_research&oldid=977553623 (2020).

10. Russia’s approval of a COVID-19 vaccine is less than meets the press release. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/08/russia-s-approval-covid-19-vaccine-less-meets-press-release (2020).

11. How Broad Institute converted a clinical processing lab into a large-scale COVID-19 testing facility in a matter of days. https://www.broadinstitute.org/news/how-broad-institute-converted-clinical-processing-lab-large-scale-covid-19-testing-facility (2020).

12. Broad COVID-19 Testing Dashboard. https://covid19-testing.broadinstitute.org/.

13. COVID-19: the EU’s response to the economic fallout. https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/policies/coronavirus/covid-19-economy/.

14. van der Laan, S. W. Van der Laan & Science. https://swvanderlaan.github.io/ (2018).

15. Home. https://www.covid19hg.org/.

16. Ellinghaus, D. et al. Genomewide Association Study of Severe Covid-19 with Respiratory Failure. N. Engl. J. Med. (2020) doi:10.1056/NEJMoa2020283.

17. Shelton, J. F. et al. Trans-ethnic analysis reveals genetic and non-genetic associations with COVID-19 susceptibility and severity. Infectious Diseases (except HIV/AIDS) (2020) doi:10.1101/2020.09.04.20188318.

18. Asselbergs, F. W., van der Laan, S. W. & de Bakker, P. I. W. Uitvoering en nut van genoombrede associatiestudies. Ned. Tijdschr. Geneeskd. 158, A5821 (2014).

19. Kamb, A., Harper, S. & Stefansson, K. Human genetics as a foundation for innovative drug development. Nat. Biotechnol. 31, 975–978 (2013).

20. Ganna, A. et al. Large-scale GWAS reveals insights into the genetic architecture of same-sex sexual behavior. Science 365, (2019).

21. Perspectives on the complex genetics of same-sex sexual behavior. https://www.broadinstitute.org/news/perspectives-complex-genetics-same-sex-sexual-behavior (2019).

22. Erkennen en waarderen in de wetenschap gaan drastisch veranderen. https://www.scienceguide.nl/2019/11/erkennen-en-waarderen-moet/ (2019).

23. Meer waardering voor de wetenschapper. https://www.uu.nl/opinie/meer-waardering-voor-de-wetenschapper.

24. 林琳, 何书金, 朱晓华 & 王岱. Nature Index 对科技创新评价的意义与思考. 中国科技期刊研究 26, 191–197 (2015).

25. Steenbergh, Dr. K. (Kristine) —. https://www.dejongeakademie.nl/nl/leden/leden/15242.

26. Anneveldt, K. Lucille Mattijssen new president of PhD Network Netherlands. https://hetpnn.nl/en/2019/09/24/lucille-mattijssen-nieuwe-voorzitter-promovendi-netwerk-nederland/.

27. PhD Survey 2020. https://hetpnn.nl/en/phdsurvey2020/.

28. Anneveldt, K. Press release: Nearly half of PhDs have increased risk of mental problems, 40% have considered quitting. https://hetpnn.nl/en/2020/08/26/persbericht-bijna-helft-promovendi-heeft-vergroot-risico-op-mentale-klachten-40-overweegt-te-stoppen/.

29. BBC News. Coronavirus: Russian vaccine shows signs of immune response. BBC (2020).

30. Penn State clarifies remark by doctor about myocarditis and covid-19 positive Big Ten athletes. The Washington Post (2020).

31. EU leaders slash science spending in €1.8 trillion deal. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/07/eu-leaders-slash-science-spending-18-trillion-deal (2020).

32. Werkdruk in hoger onderwijs onverminderd hoog door corona. https://www.scienceguide.nl/2020/09/werkdruk-in-hoger-onderwijs-onverminderd-hoog-door-corona/ (2020).

33. Dennis Wiersma: ‘Ik heb het gevoel dat ik het nooit goed kan doen in het hoger onderwijs.’ – ScienceGuide. https://www.scienceguide.nl/2020/09/dennis-wiersma-ik-heb-het-gevoel-dat-ik-het-nooit-goed-kan-doen-in-het-hoger-onderwijs/ (2020).

34. Sigrid Kaag: ‘D66 heeft het wetenschappelijk onderwijs teleurgesteld’. https://www.scienceguide.nl/2020/08/sigrid-kaag-d66-heeft-het-wetenschappelijk-onderwijs-teleurgesteld/ (2020).

35. ‘Normaliter reageer ik niet op een politieke proefballon’ – ScienceGuide. https://www.scienceguide.nl/2019/04/vrijheid-in-het-onderwijs/ (2019).

Introducing the OSCU Faculty Ambassadors: V. Anna-Lena Lamprecht, Faculty of Science

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?
Open Science is on the rise, but I observed that people discussing and embracing its principles often form their own “bubbles” in the academic world. However, to really make the transition to the “new normal” (quoting Faculty of Science Dean Isabel Arends here) it is important to get everybody on board, from students to full professors, and also support staff. The OSCU Faculty Ambassadorship increases the visibility of Open Science in the faculty, and helps me to actively contribute to facilitating the transition.

Incidentally, the call for applications was circulated last year in the week of the National eScience Symposium. The theme of the main conference day was “Digital Challenges in Open Science”, featuring inspiring keynotes and interactive sessions on various Open Science topics. Motivated by the fresh impressions of the day, I sat down in the evening to write my application.

Why is Open Science relevant for your faculty? Which element do you think is most important?
I would say that Open Science is relevant for the Faculty of Science for the same reasons it is relevant for other faculties. I really don’t think that the principal reasons vary a lot, although there are of course some differences between fields and disciplines. The Faculty of Science is however the largest faculty at Utrecht University, and it should therefore go ahead and set a good example. Fortunately, our dean is extremely supportive of the transition to Open Science, and actively pushes initiatives to make it happen.

About the most important element: As a software researcher, I am tempted to say that FAIR and open research software is of course most important, but that is not really true. I don’t think there is one single element that is most important. All are, and they need to go hand in hand. Facilitating that is probably the most important thing. For example, open access publishing is important, and maybe one of the best-known elements of Open Science. However, frequently the most important journals in a field don’t publish open access, or only for high fees that not every researcher can afford. Especially for young researchers this can be a dilemma, as they depend on publications in their discipline’s most prestigious outlets for success with their next grant application, job search, or promotion procedure. Thus, also the current practices of evaluating researchers have to change, away from spurious surrogate quality indicators like impact factors, and towards actual assessment of quality based on content. Through dependencies like this the transition to Open Science is a really complex endeavour. This is why we need active communities like OSCU, and also people who can influence and change policies. I am very happy to see what currently happens here in Utrecht with the university-wide Open Science program, OSCU, the faculties Open Science teams, Open Science in the new strategic plans, etc.

…the current practices of evaluating researchers have to change, away from spurious surrogate quality indicators like impact factors, and towards actual assessment of quality based on content.

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 a cross-cutting concern rather than a specialization of any scientific discipline. Hence, I don’t aim to represent the technical expertise of all the different fields, but to understand common needs and concerns about Open Science practices. I do think though that my own interdisciplinary background helps me to engage with members of the different disciplines. I studied computer science and bioinformatics, and have been working in collaborative projects with microbiologists and geoscientists for several years. In fact, both my research and teaching focus on research software.

Open Science is a cross-cutting concern rather than a specialization of any scientific discipline.

And as almost everybody nowadays uses software in their research, there is always at least one common denominator to engage in a conversation.  

You organized a symposium on Open Science for your faculty. How was that?
It was the first in the series and took place in early February. That was before the corona pandemic really arrived here, so it was still an in-person event (almost unbelievable now!). The program filled an afternoon and looked at Open Science from various angles. It featured an opening by the dean Isabel Arends, a keynote by oceanographer Erik van Sebille, several short presentations by members of the different departments, and information markets with representatives from RDM support and the library, and ample time for socializing with other participants. You can actually read a report about the symposium in this blog! I was very happy that the symposium attracted so many and such diverse participants, and that we had lively discussions throughout the afternoon.

What will you do as an Ambassador, besides organizing a symposium?
Several of our plans for community events during the year were unfortunately crossed by the pandemic situation that we are experiencing since March. In April we started a series of weekly online “OSCoffees”, where ambassadors and several invited speakers ran thematic sessions on various Open Science topics. We paused over the summer, but plan to be back with the next editions soon. Furthermore, we currently work on an Open Science Primer for young researchers, write a thought-provoking position paper about Open Science, and discuss new ideas for corona-proof community events. Personally, I am intrigued by the idea of running a “Wikipedia Editathon”, and hope that I will soon find time to work that out further!

Besides those joint OSCU initiatives, I am regularly involved in discussions of the current state and needs for the transition to Open Science at my faculty, for example during the development of the new strategic plan earlier this year. Recently our dean has installed an Open Science Team to promote the ideas of Open Science within the faculty. I have joined the team as OSCU Ambassador and Fellow for FAIR data and code. Among other things the team plans to organize Open Science related events and activities for members of the faculty, which we will do together with OSCU to use synergies.

Which challenges do you expect to face during the road ahead?
There are many, but at the end of the day most comes down to achieving a massive cultural change in the scientific community. We need to reach everybody, and inspire, motivate, incentivize, nudge, and support them to do 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: 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.

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