Openness in science
We’ve seen openness inspire movements and transform various fields. Most of these stem from the four freedoms in the Free Software Definition and the Open Source Definition. The Open Knowledge Foundation does a good job summarizing the thinking around ‘open’ in a way that applies well to science:
“Knowledge is open if anyone is free to access, use, modify, and share it (subject, at most, to measures that preserve provenance and openness).” — Open Knowledge Foundation
Open science starts a broad conversation on what openness could mean for science. Open science is full of different topics because there are many different ways to apply the concept of openness to science. Here are a few:
- Open access: Is the knowledge produced by research free to access?
- Reproducibility: If we preserve and share provenance on scientific research, can others use and reproduce it?
- Diversity: How can we make sure anyone is free to access, use, modify & share scientific research?
And yes, not everyone agrees with each other. There are a multitude of different ways to apply openness to science, but they all lead up to better shared knowledge.
The open science movement
The opposite of “open” isn’t “closed”. The opposite of “open” is “broken”. — John Wilbanks
Right now, there are lots of disagreements within the open science community. It takes time for a community to learn how we work with each other and make collective decisions. Debating and settling arguments is important work, building up the muscles needed to take collective action and make real change in the research landscape.
In her book, Twitter and Tear Gas, Zeynep Tufekci talks about the civil rights movement and how they organized for over a decade before having the capacity to run a march. I’m sure there were disagreements during that first decade in the civil rights movement. They could have avoided conflict if they all split up and worked on separate topics. But they wouldn’t have had the collective power and action to make real change in the country.
We need a unifying movement to make change in academic research. We need to have debates and work through disagreements to strengthen our capacity as a movement and figure out how we make decisions as a group. We need open science.