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Chris Hartgerink: A champion of Open Science

The Open Science Stars series has been one of the most pleasurable aspects for me of working at ScienceOpen, seeing the great diversity of researchers all around the world working to make science a better field to be in. For the latest, we spoke with Chris Hartgerink, a PhD student at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. Chris has a strong background in open research practices, and is a prolific member of the data mining community. Here’s his story!

When did you first hear about ‘open science’? What was your first reaction, do you remember?

Credit: Chris Hartgerink
Credit: Chris Hartgerink

I first heard about Open Science in late 2012/early 2013 during my Masters. My then supervisor (Jelte Wicherts) said to me, “Let’s put all this online”, and I remember thinking this seemed so obvious but that I simply hadn’t considered it before – nor had I been taught about this during my education. This helped multiple puzzle pieces to fall into place. Since then transparent research has been central to all that I do. I also remember asking myself how to do this because it is non-trivial if you simply know nothing about it, and it has been a gradual process since then learning how to share in an easy-to-comprehend way. But it doesn’t have to be perfect from the beginning because open science is more a way of approaching science than it is a checkmark.

What has inspired your dedication to open research? What sort of things do you do on a daily basis to commit to this?

To be honest, what you call dedication is an ethical responsibility in my eyes. The old, opaque way of doing science is based on the analogue age with severely outdated standards. This is irresponsible, just like a current-day astronomer using Galileo’s antique telescope would be irresponsible. This antique telescope gives relatively imprecise measures compared to modern telescopes, so nobody would pay attention to new results based on it. I don’t think the science done with the antique telescope in the old days is invalid, I just think we have to build on the old, create the new, and then use the new. Closed research, as you might call it, is stuck in the old. I would even go so far to say that such unnecessarily (!) closed research obfuscates science and can be deemed pseudo-science. I hardly pay attention to new research that is unverifiable.

The old, opaque way of doing science is based on the analogue age with severely outdated standards.

By the way, when I say irresponsible, I mean irresponsible to others and to yourself. Our work is complex and making your work shareable and understandable to others helps others to understand what you did – including your future self. Transparent research has saved my skin repeatedly.

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In:  Aggregation  

ScienceOpen smashes through the 20 million article record mark

Today, we are pleased to announce that ScienceOpen hit the 20 million article record! In fact, it’s still climbing even as this is being written. This is thanks to what we call our ‘aggregation’ engine, which takes published research articles from any field, and applies a little bit of magic to them to open up their context and let us all do amazing things, such as find similar articles, post-publication peer review them, and trace their citation genealogies.

I asked Alexander Grossmann, professor of publishing and co-founder of ScienceOpen, what this milestone means to him and to open science more broadly.

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In:  Other  

Collections as the future of academic-led journals

ScienceOpen Collections are thematic groups of research articles that transcend journals and publishers to transform how we collate and build upon scientific knowledge.

What are Collections

The modern research environment is a hyper-dimensional space with a vast quantity of outputs that are impossible to manually manage. You can think of research like a giant Rubik’s cube: you have different ‘colours’ of research that you have to mix and match and play around with to discover how the different sections fit together to become something useful.

CC BY-SA 3.0,  Booyabazooka (Wikipedia)
CC BY-SA 3.0, Booyabazooka (Wikipedia)

We view Collections as the individual faces of a Rubik’s cube. They draw from the vast, and often messy, pool of published research to provide an additional layer of context and clarity. They represent a new way for researchers to filter the published record to discover and curate content that is directly relevant to them, irrespective of who published it or what journal it appears in.

Advantages of Collections

Perhaps the main advantage of Collections to researchers is that they are independent of journals or publishers and their branding criteria. Researchers are undoubtedly the best-placed to assess what research is relevant to themselves and their communities. As such, we see Collections as the natural continuing transformation of the concept of the modern journal, acting in almost full cycle to return them to their basic principles.

The advantage of using Collections is that they provide researchers with the power to filter and select from the published record and create what is in essence a highly-specialised virtual journal. This means that Collections are not pre-selective, but instead comprise papers discriminated only by a single criterion: research that is relevant to your peers, and also deemed relevant by them.

Filtering for Collections occurs at different levels depending on scope or complexity of research. For example, Collections can be designed to focus on different research topics, lab groups or research groups, communities, or even departments or institutions. Collections can also be created for specific conferences and include posters from these, published on ScienceOpen. You define the scope and the selection criteria.

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