The tipping point: is research culture about to become more open? - F1000
The tipping point: is research culture about to become more open?

The tipping point: is research culture about to become more open?

3 mins


Despite the scientific method being predicated on questioning, experimentation, analysis, and challenge, a research culture has predominated in which this underlying work and discussion is closed from public scrutiny and, within the community itself, siloed within institutions, only the results surfacing. In a post-COVID-19 world, where there are increasing demands for fast publication and for science to keep pace with social demands, open science offers not just ‘quick’ publication, but a recalibration of research culture, privileging multilateral collaboration and input, together with transparency and recognition for all contributions.

The height of the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated both faster findings and transparency in research, reducing duplication and expediting outcomes on a global scale. As researchers and governments come out of the pandemic and take stock, the open science landscape presents as full of potential but also of complexity. For example, the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) has published guidance on research collaboration, citing intellectual property, data protection, and security as issues to be aware of. From the ‘Shuttered labs’ phenomenon to retraction of influential closed peer review journal papers on COVID-19, what matters is fully understanding the societal and scientific impact that open science can have and where we go next.

The COVID-19 pandemic was positive proof of how open science is a fast route for research to  positively  impact public health. In 2021 The UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Science Minister spoke about how to build back better from the effect of COVID-19, after seeing the fast execution of vaccines and treatments, developed from sharing research as openly and quickly as possible. So, does science stand on the brink of a brave new world of open research? As stated above, the picture is more complex than that. Two things may indeed prove the makers or breakers of the open science project: integrity and impact.

As far as integrity goes, we are starting to see measures introduced by open research publishers and institutions to hardwire trust and accuracy into their processes, including signing up to the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA).  In securing a commitment to open science from the G7, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) was at pains to stress the integrity and security at the heart of the process, sharing research data across borders being as open as possible and as secure as necessary.

If integrity is the non-negotiable principle for open science, impact is the primum mobile – fast publication for quicker social good. But, as all researchers know, impact can have multiple meanings and measurements. The European Council’s recommendation that research assessment needs to be reformed in order to support open science is an opening gambit in a critical discussion about how impact should be measured.

In the coming weeks, a series of F1000 blogs will focus on the discussions shaping the future of research culture and open science, from open data to open peer review, from impact factor to career impact and recognition. Please contact us if there is an area you would like us to cover or a discussion you would like to contribute to. This blog series is part of F1000’s new Open Thinking program and, as the name suggests, we are open for debate and discussion about the shape of science and research to come.