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Taking concrete steps to Open Science

Taking concrete steps to Open Science

How do we move forward with Open Science in psychology, both on the work floor as well as at the policy level? Recently, a group of both junior and senior scientists came together to discuss concrete steps that can be taken now toward an ideal situation in 2030.

Originally published on erasmus-synclab.nl

In recent years, many efforts have been made to shift the field of psychology and cognitive neuroscience towards Open Science. This is an umbrella term under which many different initiatives fall to make research more open: increasing transparency, sharing data, open access to research papers, diversity of researchers, and so forth (see here for an introduction and reading list; here for SYNC lab’s Open Science vision). In December 2019, members of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (the KNAW), and junior researchers from their research groups came together. We aimed to determine current needs, both on the work floor as well as at the policy level, to facilitate the transition towards Open Science in the fields of psychology and cognitive neuroscience.

Junior and senior researchers discussing pressing issues
The KNAW members nominated researchers of the new generation to participate. This made
this meeting perfectly suited to incorporate multiple perspectives. The perspective of the young
generation with ambition to make science more open, more transparent and better, and the
perspective of the more senior generation who embrace this collaborative atmosphere and who
have the connections and opportunities to bring this to the next level.
Beforehand, we sent out a survey to all participants to determine the most pressing topics to
discuss. This led to a selection of 5 broad topics that were discussed in small groups. The topics
were:

● Achieving greater time efficiency in open science
● Efficient organisation of research support
● Data sharing and privacy
● Education and open science
● Valuing, rewarding and authorship

With the goal of providing concrete steps on how to move forward, teams of both junior and
senior scientists started brainstorming about what would be the ideal situation in 2030. In the
inspiring atmosphere of the Trippenhuis library and surroundings, soon participants
enthusiastically noted down many ideas on their pile of post-it notes

Outcomes of the workshop: visions for 2030
At the end of the day, each group presented their suggestions in a short presentation. Each
group 1) provided a vision of an ideal situation in 2030, 2) described the current status, 3) stated
the main challenges regarding their topic and 4) provided concrete goals and actions on how to
get from the current status to the desired, ideal situation.

The group discussing time efficiency presented an ideal situation of standardization, more
training and eventually designated staff members to make our science more open. Next, the
group thinking about the role of research support envisioned a future of team science, in which
data infrastructures are aligned across the globe and open science skills are rewarded. The
researchers discussing data sharing and privacy emphasized that transparency should be as
large for study participants as for fellow researchers. Regarding education in open science, the
discussion group argued that open science should be an explicit part of learning outcomes for
students (Bachelor/Master/PhD) and for continuous education of teaching staff. Finally, the
group discussing valuing and rewarding shared their thoughts on how to value quality over
quantity and how to value team science.

Moving forward: concrete steps and involving junior researchers
The presentations might give you the feeling that the workshop was only about what we ought
to do. But during the plenary discussion many emphasized how all of this opens great
possibilities for scientific discoveries. We are at a moment in which great steps can be made
towards more open science, partly thanks to technological advances such as for sharing data
and analysis scripts. There are still many things that need to be done though: the incentive
system needs to change, and in our field data sharing is complicated because we work with
human data.

Practical steps that were discussed in which the KNAW and its members can have an important
role is the initiation of consensus meetings (e.g., by coming up with how to evaluate open
science for hiring and grant decisions). One thought shared by both junior and senior
researchers was that the mix of juniors and seniors was very fruitful and should be used more
often. Thus, such consensus meetings and other KNAW committees would greatly benefit from
the input of more junior scientists.

Most discussion groups also noticed that because of all the possible tools and workflows
available, training researchers in all career stages (students, juniors, seniors) is vital. This could
be done by organizing workshops, preferably at a central location and organized by a visible
organization such as the KNAW in order to reach many. Many local initiatives such as the Open
Science Communities
that can be found in almost every university in the Netherlands are
already leading the way and would be ideal partners to team up for this with the KNAW.
To conclude, we look back at an inspiring day full of plans for the near future. There is still a lot
of work that has to be done on the work floor and at the policy level, but thanks to this
workshop, we have started a to-do list for the near and far future. Want to know how you can
contribute yourself in the near future? Start with the list below!

Concrete steps towards open scholarship you can start taking today
● Open science is about small steps you can take, rather than doing everything right all at
once
● Reward when you see others doing transparent work (as a mentor, reviewer, collaborator,
etc.)
● Look at the quality of papers (e.g. from job applicants) rather than the quantity
● Make discussing mistakes less taboo; implement a co-pilot for the research process, or a
lab meeting about the fact that everybody makes mistakes and how to prevent them in
the future
● Reward contributions in authorship roles, see for instance here
● Ask your dean what is being done in your local strategic plan to make Open Science part
of the fabric of science (e.g. how it will be evaluated in existing forms)
● Become a member of your local Open Science Community and see which events you
can join

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