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?
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 The old, opaque way of doing science is based on the analogue age with severely outdated standards.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The old, opaque way of doing science is based on the analogue age with severely outdated standards.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.
We’ve had some amazing new publications recently here at ScienceOpen, and with many more in the pipeline too! For us, every paper we publish is special, and we like to highlight the effort put into them by our authors as much as possible. One of our newest addition is from the field of molecular biology and genomics, a huge and rapidly advancing research domain.
In the last Open Science Stars post, we spoke with Obinna Ojemeni who gave us an eye-opening account about the state of Open Access in Nigeria. We’re shifting gears again this week and delving into the murky world of reproducible research, a bit of a hot topic at the moment. Joe Akin of Scimpact was kind enough to tell us about how he is helping to make science more open and reproducible.
Hi Joe! Can you tell us a little bit about your background to get things rolling?
I have always been interested in science and technology. It was this interest that, in part, drew me to attend the US Air Force Academy and afterwards serve as a scientist in the Air Force Research Laboratory, supporting the demanding technological needs of the US Air Force. After completing my service and wanting to direct my scientific effort towards biomedical science, I pursued a PhD in immunology at Harvard University. Because of the university’s great breadth of scientific pursuits, I was able to find a lab where my previous expertise in engineered materials and biomaterials was useful within the context of immunology research—novel materials for cancer vaccine delivery.
When did you first hear about Open Access and Open Science? What were your original thoughts?
I first heard these concepts at the Council of Science Editors conference in the spring of 2015. I thought they sounded like laudable ideas, and I was particularly interested on two fronts:
How to get scientists to change from convention and support a new paradigm?
How to get publishers to do likewise, especially when it threatens the financial outlook for their institutions?
What was the rationale behind building Scimpact? How does this fit into your future vision for Open Science?
The impetus for Scimpact grew out of Girija and my frustrations, towards the end of our PhDs, in knowing that a lot of the hard work we had done would never be communicated to the larger scientific community and the prospect of many others duplicating the work we had done, needlessly. I believe it was an altruistic driver, from the outset.
What are the advantages of using Scimpact over traditional publishing models?
Scimpact aims to integrate with a lot of the current activity around making science more open. We are just one piece of a potential solution. We focus on the under-resourced element of making reproducibility of results transparent. We believe reproducibility can be the foundation for communication, rather than novelty.
We believe reproducibility can be the foundation for communication, rather than novelty.