science politics

I am contemplating to apply to join the European Commission Open Science Policy Platform. The OSPP will provide expert advice to the European Commission on implementing the broader Open Science Agenda. As you will see, some of us have a concern that the focus of the call is on organizations, not communities. This is a departure from much of the focus that the Commission itself has adopted on the potential benefits and opportunities of Open Science. A group of us are therefore applying as representatives of the community of interested and experienced people in the Open Science space.

Amongst others I am therefore asking for your endorsement, in the form of a comment on this post or email directly to me if you prefer, as someone who can represent this broader community of people, not necessarily tied to one type of organization or stakeholder. Depending on the number of endorsements, I will consider submitting my application. Deadline is march 22, 2016.


I have been urged to apply for a position on the advisory group ‘Open Science Policy Platform‘ as an individual representing the common interests shared by people and organizations from across the spectrum of stakeholders including doctors, patients and their organizations, researchers, technologists, scholarly IT service providers, publishers, policy makers, funders and all those interested in the change undergoing research. In addition to those directly involved in Open Science, I also represent the common interests shared by experimental scientists at public institutions, in particular those working in biomedical research, whether or not they are already engaging in Open Science themselves.

Many of us have a concern that the developing policy frameworks and institutionalization of Open Science is leaving behind precisely the community focus that is at the heart of Open Science. As the Commission has noted, one of the key underlying changes leading to more open practice in research is that many more people are becoming engaged in research and scholarship in some form. At the same time the interactions between this growing diversity of actors increasingly form an interconnected network. It is not only that this network reaches beyond organizational and sector boundaries but that it is precisely that blurring of boundaries is what underpins the benefits of Open Science.

I recognize that for practical policy-making it is essential to engage with key stakeholders with the power to make change. In addition I would encourage the Commission to look beyond the traditional sites of decision-making power within existing institutions to the communities and networks which are where the real cultural changes are occurring. In the end, institutional changes will only ever be necessary, and not sufficient, to support the true cultural change which will yield the benefits of Open Science.

I am confident I can represent the interests of this community, particularly by assisting in developments concerning the implementation of a cloud-based scholarly infrastructure supporting not only our text-based research outputs, but especially the integration of research data and scientific source code with the narrative, be it text, audio or video-based. I will also contribute evidence to policy decisions regarding research integrity.

I base my confidence on my track record covering the last 12 years. I have been involved in Open Science advocacy since about 2004. Since then, I have been invited speaker and keynote lecturer at numerous Open Science events every year. My advice is being sought by Open Access organizations such as the Public Library of Science, Force11, Frontiers, ScienceOpen, PeerJ or F1000. In fact, most of the recent F1000 innovations appear very similar to what I (and no doubt others) have proposed. I run an Open Science laboratory where all our source code and research data are being made openly accessible either immediately, as they are being created/collected, or upon publication/request. We have pioneered exploiting the advantages the infrastructure of our laboratory provides. For instance, we have collaborated with F1000Research to publish an article where the reader can not only choose the display format of the research data, or which aspect of the data should be displayed, but where they can also contribute their own data for comparison and extension of the published research.

My perspective is shaped not only by my interactions with fellow scholars, librarians or publishers. I also collect the available empirical data to objectively assess the state of the current scholarly infrastructure. One of the insights we have gained from this work is that the most prestigious scholarly journals publish the least reliable science. The practice of selecting scholars publishing in these prestigious journals arguably contributes to the unfolding replication crisis. Thus, a drop in research integrity has been observed in recent years, which can be traced back to inadequate, antiquated infrastructure, providing counter-productive incentives and reward structures. I will bring to the table the evidence-based perspective that our public institutions need a modern digital infrastructure, if our aim is to prevent further deterioration of research integrity and hence credibility. This position holds that the current, largely journal-based and publisher-provided infrastructure is not only counter-productive, but also unnecessarily wasteful. The evidence suggests that the global scholarly community stands to save ~US$9.8 billion annually if current subscription moneys were instead invested in a modern, institutional infrastructure. Such a transition would not only maintain current functionalities, it would also provide universal access to all scholarly knowledge. The saved funds would provide ample opportunities for acquiring new functionalities, provided, for instance, by emerging scholarly IT service providers, representatives of which will likely be among the experts on the Open Science Policy Platform. The saved funds would also allow implementation of a sustainable infrastructure ensuring long-term accessibility and re-use of research data as well as scientific source code. The common, federated standards and specifications of this infrastructure will overcome current fragmentation and enhance interoperability of all forms of scholarly output. Europe is spearheading the development of such an infrastructure. Given the proposed 6.15b€ for the European Cloud Initiative, the evidence suggests that the transition will likely be cost-neutral overall and potentially even cost-saving.


Posted on  at 22:32