Demystifying Open Science

Publishers are increasingly finding they need to support the growing set of practices that comprise Open Science. Going beyond providing open access to the results of research, Open Science extends to how research is conducted, reported, shared, and evaluated. In essence, the principles of openness are applied to the entire research lifecycle in such a way that more parties can collaborate and contribute. In practice, that involves tools for collaborative research, research data and other research processes made freely available and licensed for reuse, plus a shift towards sharing knowledge earlier in the process with transparency in reporting to aid further collaboration.

The idea that research can be made more effective through Open Science has a strong appeal. Governments, funders, organizations and researchers, particularly in the face of COVID-19, now favour establishing Open Science practices. At the same time, there are risks and real challenges for the field of scholarly communications. It is a huge topic with implications reaching across most functions of organizations, from the fundamentals of business models to the detail of how peer review is performed. While it can seem a bit overwhelming, a good way to demystify Open Science is to approach it from three distinct aspects: Commercial, Operational, Strategy & Culture.

1. Commercial

As new directives and trends emerge, publishers need to understand the issues and be able to apply them to their products and stakeholders to maintain both the commercial value and accessibility of their content. Open Access is linked to a need for growth, scale and efficiency which may not align with existing strengths. Library and consortia deals may need to adapt significantly, ideally without getting lost in the difference between Read & Publish and Publish & Read! For an organization to find their right direction, it is often about identifying the risks and uncovering the opportunities.

2. Operational

Both the high-level infrastructure and the small detail of operations can be key to Open Science. It brings new standards (e.g., Funder ID, ROR), elevates the importance of research data, and offers seemingly existential challenges to the timing and the format of publications. Where does my organization fit in an Open Science research lifecycle? How far can it support researchers with their open practices? In this landscape, knowledge of what you offer compared to the field and agreement on where you want to be, even if it’s a small step, is incredibly important.

3. Strategy & Culture

Openness supports effective scrutiny of–and therefore trust in–science, which extends to the publishing process. Openness can be adopted as a new way of working at an organizational level, with focus on collaboration and transparency. At another level, it might be about the additional skills, roles and responsibilities you require to support your open science offering. Or, you may want to increase transparency and reduce potential bias in your editorial policies through reporting checklists, data availability statements or open peer review.

Industry Support

It is heartening to see how the industry is rising to the challenges of Open Science. There are initiatives to increase understanding between different parties in the research process. Industry groups are developing standards and technical infrastructure. Partnerships are filling service gaps and supporting an iterative process of change. All of this means that there are ways through and ways to make it work.

With its worldwide network of experienced publishing associates, Maverick has the breadth and depth of Open Science expertise to help, with any questions or challenges. We offer a pragmatic and problem-solving approach with step-by-step plans tailored to the type of business and its stage of Open Science maturity. We can help you understand your current position in terms of adoption and provide support as you take the next steps.

Watch for more in-depth information from Maverick on the Commercial, Operational, and Cultural & Strategy aspects of Open Science. In the meantime, contact us for a free consultation.

By Ruth King, Maverick Senior Associate, Open Science

Maverick Senior Associate, Ruth King, is a publishing professional with deep experience of open science, change management and process development. She has worked in open access publishing since its inception and brings experience from a breadth of business types, from a start-up company using a new business model to global corporate environments.