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Open Science: Is the future already here?

Photo credit: ‘Science is great, open it (open science)’, Martin Clavey, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

How will we report the results of scholarly research in the future? Probably not on paper. Digital, accessible, machine-readable, reproducible describe the foundations of open science. And, increasingly, the question for funders, publishers, and institutes is becoming: can we influence how research is done by changing the requirements and attributes of the research “paper”?

With the growing opportunities of the digital world, the demand for open access to research articles developed into an open science movement that strives for science to be done in an “open, and reproducible fashion where all components of research are open”. The process of making all aspects of science open, transparent, and interoperable is a huge endeavour and means different things for different communities. ScienceOpen’s commitment to open science has been clear from its foundation: we make science open. Our latest project in the realization of this goal has been integrating ‘BMJ Open Science’ as a new open access featured collection on our platform.

Leading by example

The ScienceOpen collection ‘Research Paper of the Future’ edited by Gail Clement and Plato L. Smith II foresees a “paper of the future”, where research communication is open, without obstacles, and knowledge is “Findable, Accessible, Inspectable/Interoperable, Reusable/Reproducible, and Extensible“. They use the “paper” as a metaphor for different representations of knowledge, such as text, code, data, materials, and methods – altogether telling a full story of a research argument. According to Clement and Smith, this is the future of accessible and interactive stories, for both humans and machines. The ‘Research Paper of the Future’ collection illuminates the features, functions, and models of what its editors call the “#FuturePaper“. By highlighting different tools and models of open scholarship, this collection shows how researchers are experimenting and leading by example.

Similarly, BMJ Open Science is experimenting with definitions, models, and requirements of open science. This new, open access journal by BMJ promotes best practices in preclinical and basic biomedical research. To increase rigor, transparency, and reproducibility in biomedical research, BMJ Open Science fosters a range of open science practices, such as open protocols, peer review practices, and Research Resource Identifiers (RRIDs). Editor-in-Chief of BMJ Open Science, Emily S. Sena, describes the journal’s mission in her inaugural editorial:

What makes this journal different is that we have taken an innovative approach in order to challenge our collective bias against null and negative results; the desire to follow the status quo, which for many has culminated in very successful careers and the consequences of the desire to maintain a competitive edge in an outrageously competitive discipline. At BMJ Open Science we support preprints and replication studies, advocate for transparency of methods used, differentiate between exploratory and confirmatory studies, and will publish all sound experiments irrespective of their findings. […] We are also proponents of open science and information sharing, and have engaged with community led initiatives, such as the Open Science Framework, to eliminate access barriers to methods, data, and information from the research that we publish.

BMJ Open Science aims to define and model the “research paper of the future” today. It fulfills the future promise of global open science through its commitment to open science practices and the diversity of research studies it publishes. ScienceOpen is proud to support this effort with a ‘BMJ Open Science’ collection on our discovery platform. Contextualizing this journal within our environment of nearly 50 million article records and active community of research collections can provide a broad and interactive context for discussions and experimentation with open science goals and strategies.

Learning curve

If the goals sound inspiring to you, but you are not quite sure how to get started with open science, the Open Science MOOC under development already provides a wealth of material and the first modules to get you on your way.

Open science is not all or nothing. You can try a few aspects, explore new technology, see what works for you. Setting up experiments in a completely open, interoperable, and transparent way may take time. But there are a few things you could try today:

  • Get or update your ORCID
  • Make sure you have access to data when you review
  • Review a paper openly online
  • Add Research Resource Identifiers (RRIDs) to your next paper
  • Put your previous work in an institutional repository
  • Post new work as a preprint
  • Create an open and interactive bibliography for your work with a Collection on ScienceOpen

BMJ Open Science’s open publishing practice represents what many of us hope to be the future of scholarly publishing. We are pleased to be a part of the open science project already in the present and hope to integrate increasingly more open science journals in our research discovery environment.