There are various definitions of open science. In general, open science aims to make publications, data and other outputs of scientific research easily, quickly and freely accessible in digital form to all interested parties.
Free access is not limited to academia. It should also be available to commercial entities, public authorities, citizens and society as a whole.
Exceptions are cases where open access would jeopardise the legitimate interests of authors or other stakeholders – for example, intellectual property, commercial interests, national security, etc. In such cases, access may be restricted to the extent necessary or prevented altogether if needed.
Currently, the main pillars of open science are:
– Open Access to scholarly articles and other publications,
– Open Data generated in the course of research that can be further processed and used by interested parties.
Other tools include:
– Open Source software,
– use of public licenses for copyrighted works (e.g. Creative Commons),
– Open Educational Resources,
– public involvement in research through Citizen Science,
– Open Peer Review, where the identity of reviewers is known, their reviews are published and the wider scientific community can also participate in the process,
– Open laboratory notebooks.
Of course, the applicability of some of these tools depends on the specific project or scientific field. For example, citizen science is likely to be more useful for field botanists than for plant biologists working on genomics. They, on the other hand, might better appreciate open source software, for example for analysing sequencing data.
What are the main benefits of open science?
– Easier accessibility of new knowledge, greater speed and efficiency of its dissemination,
– making research faster and cheaper,
– encouraging collaboration between scientific teams,
– the possibility to reuse acquired data in further research,
– better reproducibility, transparency and credibility of research,
– increased visibility of authors and institutions due to higher citation rates,
– involvement of other stakeholders in scientific projects (general public, commercial companies),
– greater social and economic impact of research,
– faster transfer of knowledge into practical applications.