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Dasapta Erwin Irawan: The state of Open Science in Indonesia and how to drive change to make research better for everyone

Full steam ahead with our incredible Open Science Stars! We hope you’ve been enjoying it so far, and today we’re bringing you Dasapta Erwin Irawan, a a researcher based in Indonesia at the interface between Engineering, Hydrogeology and Geoscience, and an avid open science supporter. Enjoy his story!

When did you first hear about ‘open science’? What was your first reaction, do you remember?
It’s kind of funny, I heard it first from you :). (Ed: *sniff*) It was one of your blog post in 2012 Relocation, and a chance to try some open science-ing that gave me ideas of sharing my results as fast as I can and as wide as I can. I had finished my PhD when I first read it and your posts on EGU blog. There I noticed your hash tags ‘#OpenPhD` then followed it. I wasn’t serious in using my Twitter handle for academic purposes back then. My first reaction was, to make all my published papers available online, posted them all on my ResearchGate account and my blog.

You have a very strong commitment to open science. What is it that drives this for you?

My strong commitment has been built by seeing so many other doing the same thing. In Indonesia, where not many universities have subscription to major journals, open science could be the answer of what we’ve been looking for. Everybody here keeps saying to submit papers to major paywalled journals, as they have good reputation and indexed by WoS or Scopus, while it should not be that way. What we need in Indonesia is to keep writing, write more in English and find a way to make it easier to be found and accessible by others, as if it was indexed by WoS and Scopus. And I see by using the latest free and open source services, we can do that.

In Indonesia, where not many universities have subscription to major journals, open science could be the answer of what we’ve been looking for

You’ve been an absolute superstar in interacting with ScienceOpen (SO). How have you found the experience so far? How can we help improve it?

Just get started in this, so it’s not a superstar yet (Ed: stop being modest! 🙂 ). But I’ve been self-evaluating the SO model and find that more Indonesian scientists should use this model to publish their research. I organize a monthly meeting to talk about many sides of open science, and the response is surprisingly overwhelming. I can reach out to many scientists from every corner of Indonesia, saying that the government (Ministry of Higher Education) have built a completely wrong model to nourish the scientific climate in Indonesia. They are all very amazed by the SO model, along with other new journals like PeerJ, F1000Research, and Rio Journal.

Image credit: Dasapta Erwin Irawan
Image credit: Dasapta Erwin Irawan

You published recently with us a paper about the fossils and geology of East Java. Why did you choose to publish this research with us, and how did you find the experience?

Actually Palaeontology was my long lost passion :). So I have to get it published to journal with the same passion to actively spread the news. I believe that scientific outreach should not be solely done by the author/s but also the journal team. I find them all in SO. My second paper will talk about hot water classifications based on their hydrochemistry, using open source tools, like R and Orange. Hopefully I can send it next month.

You’ve also performed several post-publication peer reviews on ScienceOpen. How did you find the experience, and why did you choose to do this?

It was very easy and worth to try, because SO has stepped forward to acknowledge peer-reviews. I hope SO can team up with Publons to display SO reviews directly to Publons profile. (Ed: we do this already!)

What do you think about open peer review in general? Should referees and reports be made public? Should the whole process be open so that anyone can be included?

Yes off course,  that way not only the author/s, but the readers can also read the report and make more suggestions and corrections to improve the paper or research.

What is your experience like as a researcher in Indonesia? Is open science high up on the agenda there?

Open science is not one the priority here, but it’s coming, but I’m am really really sure that we can rapidly shift the environment to open science with more communications. Once more and more of society know about open science, then it will grow fast.

Once more and more of society know about open science, then it will grow fast.

How has the research community in Indonesia responded to the global push for open access? Are there policies in place or being developed?

Yes some policies are in the making right now, in national level or regional level, I however, am currently advocating for groundwater law at city level, including how we can share the groundwater measurement data to public. So it’s on its way, with more sustained efforts.

What is the scholarly publishing ecosystem like in Indonesia? Do people care much about things like journal branding and impact factors?

Well this is interesting, since most journals in Indonesia are open access, and most the of APCs (article-processing charges) are waived by the journal editors because journals are usually affiliated with certain ministry of government office. Therefore the operational costs are included in the office expenses. Even with that condition, it’s only bringing a few authors/papers each year. Many papers are written in Indonesian language, so we have to increase English language papers for more impact.

Most journals in Indonesia are open access

Yes people still care (too) much about journal branding, index, and impact factors. But we are are slowly bringing them to this more open environment.

What has your personal experience been like advocating for open science? Do you find researchers are more receptive or resistant?

Most of them are receptive. However they (mostly lecturers) still have many questions and doubts about our ministry rules that still too Scopus/WoS-minded. To advocate them, I always suggest them to have all results open and to also post their paywalled/Scopus indexed papers in preprint servers, open repositories or just self-archive the papers in any way they familiar with, like Google Drive or a WordPress blog.

How can platforms like ScienceOpen help younger researchers develop their skills in open research? What other tools or platforms would you recommend to researchers?

Yes definitely, from my experience, not only delivers fast publication, ScienceOpen and the ScienceOpen team can boost the confidence of young/early career researchers. The SO team has made the social media as ultimate tools to disseminate academic outputs.

ScienceOpen and the ScienceOpen team can boost the confidence of young/early career researchers

To maximize research impact I recommend researchers (especially in Indonesia and other SE countries) to use: ORCID as scientific online profile, preprints servers to host their in review papers, free repositories like the OSF, Figshare and Zenodo as their project folders, collaborative writing tools like Overleaf or Authorea, and also Publons to deposit reviews.

Where do you see the future of scholarly communication? What steps are needed to get there?

 I see that the future of scholarly communication shifts to more:

  1. Digital: digital version of paper must be available and accessible for others;
  2. Open: to make data and methods open is essential;
  3. Global: academics from any non-English speaking country (like Indonesia) should learn hard and force themselves to write and speak in English;
  4. Collaborative: one should make more network not only for casual research chats, but also for hard science;
  5. Civilized: scientific communication is not political debate: it should be objective, direct (email is not a very direct tool for communication, but Twitter does 🙂 ), and polite.

Scientific communication is not political debate: it should be objective, direct, and polite.

To achieve that we need to have more dissemination about open science and open government data, then we can start drafting regulations based on actual problems, from down to top.

Whose responsibility do you think it is to lead this change?

Every researchers, lecturers, students, any member of the academic world can work their part to lead to this change.

Do you have any advice for younger researchers looking to start a career in academia?

I’d tell to them to write early and frequently :). They can move forward to make their research and papers more open to everyone rather than keep their narrow minds about indexes and impact factors.

Thanks, Dasapta! We look forward to working more with you in future and watching your continuously great work for science 🙂


Dasapta Erwin Irawan was born and completed his whole education in Indonesia. He finished his PhD about hydrochemistry in volcanic area in 2009. Working his career at one of the oldest engineering university in Indonesia, Institut Teknologi Bandung, he has put his research interests on hydrochemistry and multivariate analysis, as he likes to see patterns and how it can show groundwater classification and how it moves beneath the ground. On his spare time, he learns open source apps (and yes he includes R) and how scientific people interact with each other and share their work. To give more contribution to open science, he is now registered and actively work his role as ambassador for ORCID and Center for Open Science. Oh and like other human being, he tweets as @dasaptaerwin.

4 thoughts on “Dasapta Erwin Irawan: The state of Open Science in Indonesia and how to drive change to make research better for everyone”

  1. I hope Dr. Erwin’s wishes will come to reality sooner than later. 🙂

    He’s currently the leading open science supporter in Indonesia, who are too few when compared to the number of researchers and lecturers in Indonesia. I hope we can have more.

    Thanks to ScienceOpen for covering him, and Indonesian open science environment in general 🙂

    1. Hendy is just being nice 🙂 as he also has plunged into the the open science world. I’ll be looking forward to reading your paper and/or review as well. Being a practical IT engineer is not the reason to not writing papers :).

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