What is Open Science?

‘Open Science’ stands for the transition to a new, more open and participatory way of conducting, publishing and evaluating scholarly research. Central to this concept is the goal of increasing cooperation and transparency in all research stages.

This is achieved, among other ways, by sharing research data, publications, tools and results as early and open as possible.

Open Science leads to more robust scientific results, to more efficient research and (faster) access to scientific results for everyone. This results in turn in greater societal and economic impact. 

New digital possibilities
Open Science stems, among other things, from the growing digitisation of science. Never before was it possible to share and digitally analyse such large quantities of research data as it is today. Online collaboration among researchers from around the world is the “new normal” way of working. Moreover, the ability to directly publish research results and data oneself is an important driver for change.

Culture change
However, Open Science is more than the sharing of research data, publications and tools. It is also a transition to a new, inclusive way of working collectively. Through Open Science, the focus shifts to working in (interdisciplinary) teams and making results also more accessible to non-scientists. To achieve the necessary cultural change in academia, a new, widely-accepted incentive and reward system for researchers is required.

Open Science: not a goal in itself
A great deal of effort and progress are still required to arrive at the new normal. Differences between the domains exist and can be significant. For data sharing it is important to describe the data well; researchers and other audiences must be able to find and understand it. Multidisciplinary agreements about minimum standards, tools and interoperability are needed. Appropriate infrastructure to support Open Science practices are essential. Services to support these practices must connect to the new, open way of working. 

Different needs exist per domain or disciplines as well. While processes may differ, these should be coordinated where possible. Software used to analyze data to produce scientific results should receive more attention. Long-term availability and reusability of software requires dedicated efforts which present their own types of challenges with regards to the FAIR management of data and code. We are therefore in a transition phase to the situation in which Open Science is just Science again. 

The 2017-2021 Coalition Agreement of the Dutch government stipulates that Open Science and Open Access to research publications must become the norm in scientific research. The most important scholarly organizations in the Netherlands signed the National Open Science Plan in 2017. Work is now being carried out jointly on the implementation of this plan. In addition, an increasing number of institutions are developing an Open Science policy. Researchers at Dutch universities are starting up their own Open Science Communities. There is great momentum in the European context as well. The European Commission is fully committed to the development of a European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) and a large group of funders gathered in cOAlition S. They launched ‘Plan S’ to enhance open access to publications for their funded research.