What is Open Science?
At its core, Open Science is about improving the credibility and the quality of research in a digitally networked age.The most important instrument for this is openness, or transparency. On the one hand, research findings and methods are presented comprehensively and accessibly from the first conception of an idea to publication, so that other researchers can verify them or reuse them for their own work. On the other hand, researchers leave their “ivory towers” and research opens up towards social players from politics, business, culture and society. This opening up means that these players are actively involved in research processes, and research findings are communicated directly. Open Science thus follows established principles of good scienctific practice and transfers them into the present era of linked-up research by means of the potentials offered by digitisation. This requires corresponding infrastructures for scientific research, teaching, and learning, and also for the transfer.
Why is Open Science useful?
Open Science enables increased efficiency and better quality control in research. Especially in the field of research data, there is a chance to use the possibilities offered by digitisation for more openness. Research data that are more accessible and easier to find can be reused in more ways. The double collection of data can be avoided. The more documentation and publication of data, software and methods, the better the verification and reproduction of research findings. If this happens with partial findings or even at the planning stage, quality control can set in much earlier.
Open Science creates transparency that enables society to gain a deeper insight into science. This can create trust in publicly financed research and strengthen credibility. Currently different models are being tried to engage social players more actively in research processes.
What are the limits of Open Science?
Although openness and transparency are the main goal of Open Science, it cannot always be fully implemented. Sometimes there are good reasons for staying closed, for which research data are exemplary. Data protection takes precedence, for instance in the case of personal data in medical research. Such data cannot simply be published.
However, safe frameworks for using such data can be created if the affected persons agree. Access could be limited to defined groups, and data must be presented in anonymised or aggregated forms. In research with business data, similar sensitivity safeguards intellectual property rights. The important thing is that the existence of data must be known; they must not necessarily be instantly and mandatorily retrievable.
What are the dimensions of Open Science?
Open Science is a general term for many different movements. The most important of these are:
- Open Access: Scholarly publications are freely accessible to all and are not hidden behind publishers’ pay walls.
- Open Data: Research data are provided and published according to open principles.
- Open Educational Resources: Materials in education are provided in such ways that teachers and students can freely use, change and disseminate them.
- Open Methodology: Scientists document and publish the scientific methods they use.
- Open Peer Review: Processes within Peer Review, which is an essential instrument of scientific quality control, are transparent and verifiable.
- Open Source: Researchers use open source technologies (soft- and hardware) and offer their own developments as open source for others.
Leaflet “What is Open Science?”: http://zbw.to/leaflet
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