Open Science Seminar

Pim Bellinga
I Hate Statistics
Published in
8 min readMar 31, 2017


This is a quick live blog from the session at the Delft Data Science Conference. I have tried to quote the presenters as much of possible, but due to the speed, I’ll probably have failed at some parts. Errors are mine, not the speakers! I’ll be refining this article during conference, if you spot errors and typos, please let me know.

The seminar was opened by Anka Mulder. She asked:
- why do we keep teaching materials to ourselves, why they have already been paid for by our citizens?
- why do we all create the same material?
- why do we keep our hypotheses to ourselves?
- why do we pay publishers to publish material we created ourselves?

History of open at TU Delft
According to Anka (a.k.a. “miss MOOC”) the history of open at delft, started ten years ago. She told about rector Jacob Fokkema, who went to MIT who had just put everything out there in open. Joost Groot Kormelink and Willem Valkenburg worked hard on doing this at Delft. Anka became president of Open Education Board. Open Data, Open Research, Open Valorisation.
Very proud of being active at. TUD wants to be a thought leader in the field.
Now Year of Open.

Is open really all happy news? Anka shared some dilemma’s:
If I share all my materials, will students still come to my lectures?
Anka: I hope a teacher has to offer more than just materials.

Some teachers say: If I share all my materials, then somebody else may use it and turn it into a book and make profit.

If my research is open to everyone, can I still publish in Science and Nature?

Audience: “No. Publishers do put restriction. I am not a fan of publishing in these journals, but you can work around it.”
Anka: Open by default, closed (temporarily) if necessary.

If I publish all my data, will I become the next Diederik Stapel?
Audience” It is a risk because people may point out mistakes. But that is science. Stapel committed fraud, not just make a mistake.”

If everyone can use my data for free, I made the expenses, they will have a free ride.

A: it works two ways. You can also use someone else data.
2: There are fields where you invest lots of money to create a machine. Then you can use that data for years.
If they use your data, they have to cite you (a data citation).
So we need to make sure that people believe that data citations are worth something.

Anka: the university of the future is an open unversity. Anka then shared her favorite quote.

“a mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open.”

— Frank Zappa:

Open Learning

by Willem Valkenburg, Manager Production and Delivery at TU Delft Extension School

For first time in history, both knowledge and expression (copying and distribution) can be free.

Why do we mean by open?

  • Access
  • Open in pace
  • location
  • programme
  • free of charge
  • open for adoption (download and reuse)

What are these permissions?

  • Retain
  • Reuse
  • Revise
  • Remix
  • Redistribute

Why should we do this?
Lower costs for learner, good promo for faculty and it is the mission of institutions.

Where is this happening?

  • Open text books (379 textbooks available. Check
    There was an interesting discussion on this. Willem stated that teachers always pick books from publishers.
    Members in the audience reacted strongly on this. They all stated that picking a book is very important: the link is very important + practice material is very important and that has not been tackled in the open field.
    Willem countered that textbook is a big issue (in the US)
  • Z-degree: zero costs apart from college tuition.
  • Open Interactive Simulations ( (Pim: we also created one on sampling and error margins:
  • At TU Delft: Open Up Math + MOOCs + disseminate research results + Open Courseware

Example of basic of seismology to get more background knowledge on the earthquakes in Groningen.


  • Q: I feel an atmosphere of these big bad publishers. We write those books. So the question is: are they allowed to make a profit? If we see that students cannot afford it. We can make a political choice: why don’t we buy the books for our students?
    A: They charge too much. If the prices were lower, then there would be much less discussion on this.
    Q: Then we should negotiate harder!

More discussion was saved for the discussion later on in the day :)

Making open science the new reality

By Wilma Verweezenbeek, director of TU Delft Library

Wilma started with two quotes:
“Dirk Helbing: stop wasting your time, fighting for a bigger piece. Digital is non material, With an unlimited number of products and services. We can make a bigger cake when we share. Sharing creates value.”

Merk Kerewit: “When I started describ very pred next exp that I would do, my future coll interrupted me. Is that what you really want to do? It wasn’t. It was liberating to admint. I found a place that cared about my big ideas. Not waste time on more feasible experiments that did not really matter that much.”

It is about sharing and thinking how you as a researcher are of value, which can be much more than only writing papers.

What do mean by open? I think about sharing. I expect other people will share as well. It is about trust. taking the responsibility.

What are the benefits?

  1. It is a basic human right to access and participate in science.
  2. Sharing will also grow the economy through innovation. It will benefit science as well.

Europe and the Netherlands find open access important.

Monitoring is important of course to follow the progress of open science.

“Sharing knowledge as early as open as possible. It is the new way of doing research”

Wilma then talked about the National Plan Open Science.
It does include everything that Europe focusses on. For example: open education is not part of it, which is a pity.

Open Science at TU Delft

A lot of activities, most focusing on data management and support for scientists.

An example are data stewardships, an upcoming Open Science course, targeted to graduate students and the 4TU Research Data initiative.

Wilma then introduced the term FAIR data:
- Findable, Available, Interoperable, Reusable.

The last part was about Open Publishing (apparently we spent about 40 million euro on journal subscriptions)

There are now also Open Access options. From now it is required that all articles are also published in the open repository.

What is coming up?

May 29 there will be a National Meeting at the Aula in TU Delft, in October there will be the Open Access Week, the 2nd lustrum of Open Courseware in November and there will be a strategic framework coming up. More info can be found on

“It is possible, it is necessary and we can help you” — Wilma

Open Discussion

Hosted by Geert-Jan Houben

If I share my education resources openly, I give away my complete education.

“Isn’t that in some sense the purpose of being a teacher. We are being paid by the government to provide these materials and education.”

“A big issue is that people (consultants) followed a course, downloaded the slides, then sold the slides at five times the price.”

Someone else countered: “we (academics) don’t like to teach commercial courses. So I am happy with the guys in suits. If the business are happy about paying the high prices, there is not a problem at all.”

What is someone finds errors in my data? If my data is openly accessible, I might be the new Stapel.

“Stapel is a bad example. That was fraud. Finding errors and correcting them, that is science. This can be challenging though in politically charged fields such as climate change. But it should still be done. This is science.”

If anyone can use my measurement data, then I did all the work and had the costs, and some else might get the success.

“I do share all my data. I am an early career researcher and I need to publish a lot. If I share my data before publishing, someone else does this before me, and then I don’t publish enough, which absolutely affects my career. As long as you only reward people on publications, you also discourage people who publish the data.”

“There are these data citations. But we need to be faster. What has just been said about the journal of failed research, this spares others time. It should be rewarded that you publish in such a journal.”

“This is the most difficult thing to change. People are saying: we are not only looking at publications. But if talk to people who actually make the decisions, they still say: the first thing we look is publication history. What we should do is saying: it is not wrong to publish in Nature or Science. But there is more to be about being a good scientist.”

“So it is about time. For a while your data is your own so you can still work on it. Then after it, everything can be shared. A timing option can help and Delft Data Centre also facilitates this. The data can be free when you want them to be free. Best would be from the beginning, but sometimes for your career you might need to deviate from it.”

“What I do at the moment, is publish the data when I submit my draft to a journal. If you say open as soon as possible, the best would be to hook up your instrument to the internet. For me, that would be to soon now.”

“We see the data steward as someone who can facilitate these discussions. Getting people conscious about these issues is a challenge. We see the steward as a good colleague to have these discussions with.”

“We already see this in Computer Science. There we have people writing packages and people writing programs. Making information available and analysing it could be two different types of careers.”

“Manager of NWO: how do we avoid after fact-free medicine and fact-free politics, we get fact-free science. Secondly: how do we avoid from losing our credibility. Opening up could perhaps (speaker does not have an answer) could decrease our credibility. To a layman this can be confusing.”

“The past years, we see that opening up lots of data, has not resulted in better information.”

“Why don’t you trust scientists?”
“You can’t deny that there have been conflicts of interest”

“Yes. But that demonstrates that science works, because these mistakes are then self-corrected.”

“There are counter-examples. There were scientists who keps dead sea scrolls to themselves for forty years.”

If there are already high-quality educational resources for basic courses available in the world, we do not want to develop content for basic courses anymore.

“This assumes that basic never changes. We now teach programming in schools, which my parents would not have expected. Secondly, there is more to teaching than using educational material.”

“We are looking exactly for material at Algebra. That does not really change. We looked at Youtube. There was material, but not that great. So we still need to a lot ourselves.”

“How is this a dilemma in open?”

“This is more about reusing material created by others.”

“This deals with the wrong assumption, that material does not have to adapted.”

“Let’s connect this back to a speaker from this morning. He crowdsourced videos on one topic. So I see this as a challenge that we should reuse more. I see this is as a nice way to show that an explanation in a different way can help people learn better.”

“My father taught me: the best way to learn is to teach. And: learn from different resources, so this might help students to learn from different sources.”