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Following up with our Open Science Stars

Following up with our Open Science Stars

The Initial ‘Open Science Stars’ Project

Four years ago, the late Jon Tennant, who was a significant contributor to the Open Science movement and a friend and colleague to the ScienceOpen team, interviewed people on ScienceOpen’s behalf from around the world who were active supporters of making science more open. This year, we got back in touch with several of the interviewees to get their opinion on the current status of Open Science in 2020. We heard from Dr. Joanne Kamens, Executive Director of Addgene, Professor Dr. Samir Hachani at Algiers II University, and Dr. Chris Hartgerink, Executive Director of Liberate Science GmbH. We also received an interesting update on the state of Open Science in Indoensia from Dr. Dasapta Erwin Irawan. Where do you think Open Science is heading in 2020? Share your thoughts with us! Here are our Open Science Stars’ responses: 

Dr. Joanne Kamens  

Photo Credit: Addgene.org

Dr. Kamens is the Executive Director of Addgene, a mission-driven, non-profit dedicated to helping scientists around the world share useful research, reagents, and data. Dr. Kamens received her Ph.D. in Genetics from Harvard Medical School, then spent fifteen years as a researcher and Group Leader in Pharma at BASF/Abbott working on both small molecule and antibody therapies for immune disease. In the 2016 interview, Dr. Kamens spoke about her contributions to the Open Science movement since joining Addgene as E.D. She also explained why openness in science was so important. She said, “It is just a huge waste of time and energy to reinvent the wheel every time you want to start a study.  We would be discovering more and doing it faster if we had more sharing of data and materials. Addgene as a case study has made this very clear.  Moreover, the reproducibility issues in science make it even more important for studies to be reproduced and extended in different labs.  Open science encourages this type of activity.” To hear more of her thoughts on research and data sharing among scientists and how Addgene facilitates openness, go to the 2016 interview here.   

As a follow-up to our last interview, we asked Dr. Kamens how far Open Science has come since our last interview. This is what she said: 

“Open science is alive and well. Addgene was founded in 2004 and began to have a slightly robust distribution in 2007. I arrived at Addgene in 2011. Here are the statistics on Addgene sharing from 2011 to now: 

200 → >800 items distributed each day 
15,000 → >90,000 plasmids stored 
1,000 → >4,800 depositing labs 

Addgene has now distributed almost 1.4 million samples. I think we talked about how the openness of the scientists who pioneered the CRISPR technology created a new environment for sharing. Their commitment to immediate openness enabled this field to move incredibly fast with development and sharing of tools and knowledge. Now we have another great example. Scientists around the world in academia and in industry have been immediately and efficiently sharing information and material about SARS-CoV2 so we can all beat this pandemic together. Open is always important for the best science but this is a demonstration of how much we can do when we work that way together. Addgene was proud to be involved in helping drive sharing of COVID-19 related materials. More detail on our response is in the article I linked to.”  

The above examples are clear indicators that Open Science is progressing. We thought it was of interest to also point out that at the time of our interview with Dr. Kamens in 2016, the Addgene numbers she reported were roughly half the amount she reported for 2020. This doubling of productivity and usage of Addgene is exciting because it means that more scientists are taking advantage of and contributing to open science. Below, Dr. Kamens continues, providing evidence she has noticed that demonstrates how journals and grant-giving organizations are committed to supporting open science: 

“You know more than I about the move to open data and publications, but the realization of the importance of materials sharing is finally coming to the fore. Journals and some funders are starting to get the crucial need for open materials whenever possible for faster, cheaper, more reproducible research. An editorial last week [now several weeks ago—Ed.] in Nature Biotechnology called “Thank you for Sharing” highlighted the challenges to sharing biological samples and the absolute necessity for us to work harder on this. Addgene recently received a grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to ensure we could make it through 2020 without having to reduce services or cancel ongoing projects (our distribution was reduced this year due to lab closures around the world) acknowledging the importance of centralized sharing resources.”  

Through these examples, Dr. Kamens gave us a promising update—showing that support for openness in science is increasingly becoming a new standared. It is also a positive sign that companies like Addgene are growing because this means that the word around open data sharing is spreading, and scientists are more and more acknowledging the benefits behind open science. 

In addition to her work at Addgene, Dr. Kamens dedicates her time to raising awareness of women scientists, which she has been doing since 1998. She founded the current Boston chapter of the Association for Women in Science. She has also facilitated the establishment of dozens of group mentoring programs around the world. Dr. Kamens serves on a number of other nonprofit boards including as Vice Chair of the Seeding Labs BoD, advisor to Protocols.io and the Scismic job board for scientists. She speaks widely on career development, mentoring, and workplace diversity topics in person and via webinar. You can find her @jkamens on Twitter and on LinkedIn

Dr. Chris Hartgerink 

Photo Credit Libsci.org

In 2016, Jon Tennant talked to Chris Hartgerink who was at the time working towards his Ph.D. in Methods and Statistics. Now, Chris Hartgerink (he/him, they/them; @chartgerink) is Executive Director of Liberate Science GmbH that is resetting research work. He was awarded his Ph.D. in Methods and Statistics from Tilburg University in 2020 for his work on building sustainable science. He was a Mozilla Open Science Fellow (2018) and is currently a Shuttleworth Fellow. They actively left academia to change the way research work is done on all levels after reflecting on their experiences during their Ph.D. Together with the Liberate Science team, they’re realizing this on multiple levels. Their philosophy of Open is one of equity and power distribution, instead of accumulation. It is relentlessly radical, which does not aim to burn systems down but to (out)grow old ones. To read a very interesting discussion regarding Chris’ feeling of ethical responsibility to open science, you can go to his 2016 interview with Jon Tennant here. And below is his follow-up, where he provides his insights on the progress of the open science movement since 2016: 

“On this journey, we as a community have continuously made two steps forward and one step back. Despite the increased commitments (e.g., in form of Plan S), open is increasingly coopted by the interests it was exactly fighting against, in my opinion.  

Open Science was a response to the increasing competition and privatization of knowledge, where intellectual property was used to keep information to oneself and to sell access. As the cultural shift is now in favor of open, this model is clearly on its way out. Yet, we see established interests adapt by increasingly shifting towards privatizing the process of knowledge production and capitalizing on that. More concretely, publishers are shifting towards becoming information brokers, capitalizing on the data researchers produce while using their various platforms. This has the risk of making Open Science a vehicle for further and new ways to infringe on research, leading to the question whether Open Science is becoming a vehicle for capital accumulation, as Mirowski (2018) so bluntly put it. 

Open Science originated from a fight against capitalism in the research process, and there is still a strong cohort of open scientists who adhere to this vision. Open Science is inherently about distributing knowledge and the way it is produced. In the past four years, more and more perspectives in open science have come to the forefront, increasingly bringing questions of racism, sexism, and decolonialization into the debate. This is the basis of the movement going forward, I hope.” 

All the problems in research, are nested in the problems of society. Step outside of academia’s issues and look at society around you. I know I waited too long to do so, and it limited the words and thoughts available to me to think through the problems. When I first started in (open) science, I was unable and unwilling to critically reflect how seemingly unrelated systems have deep-seated effects on how we investigate the world.” 

Dr. Chris Hartgerink’s advice for young researchers

From Chris’ perspective, we gather that the open movement still has a long way to go. His critical view is appreciated and timely—from current events it is evident that there are strong feelings in society that great change is needed. From politicization of public health to systemic racism to climate change, open science is another issue that young researchers must take into consideration if they wish to work towards a more equitable world.  

Professor Dr. Samir Hachani 

Photo Credit Prof. Dr. Hachani

The next Open Science Star we followed up with was Prof. Dr. Samir Hachani. Professor Hachani teaches at the school of Library Science of Algiers II University. He received his Ph.D. in Library Science from Algiers II University, and his master’s degree from the University of Southern California Los Angeles. Besides his teaching duties, his main role is being Vice President of the “Association Science et Bien Commun” based in Quebec (Canada) and whose motto is “For an open science, for the common good.” This association stands for a just and open share of science and an empowerment of the research in ‘the Souths.’ The plural signifies that the South is not uniformly made up and that there are many levels of developing countries. The association’s flagship program is called S.O.H.A. (Science Ouverte Haiti Afrique – Open Science Haiti Africa). For further information in English on S.O.H.A., read Professor Hachani’s article. The professor’s main interests are centered around open access, open science, open peer review, and the digital divide. We hope you enjoy what he has to say about the state of Open Science in 2020: 

“Open science has gained momentum in parallel with the open movement. Countries, organizations (local, national, international) have understood and included open science in their agenda thanks to an increasingly more equalitarian internet that has afforded more and more people the chance to participate in making science and influencing the decision makers. It would be hard to pinpoint to a particular program, but the Europe Open Science Policy Platform and the UN Open Science Conference in 2019 show that the open movement (that encompasses open science) has come a long way toward making science, knowledge, access, and empowerment a goal that should be attained for the good of humanity. The SOHA project is a good example of open science for those who would benefit from it the most: the Souths. The project motto is, “Open science from a cognitive justice perspective, a new way of building and sharing knowledge of the Souths.” The project prides itself on being from The Souths for The Souths which makes it closer to its intended beneficiaries.”    

In addition to the state of Open Science, we asked Prof. Hachani if he would give a piece of advice to young researchers who are either curious about supporting Open Science and who may be confused about Open Access publishing. He said: 

“Go for it!!! Don’t hesitate and participate, share and give. The world has been quite unjust in the last century for the “have nots,“ but a formidable revolution has made knowledge affordable for everybody: the Internet. With almost two thirds (62%) of the world population connected, an unprecedented opportunity is offered to the young researcher (and any researcher for that matter) to share and give and more importantly help those who cannot afford to pay exorbitant fees to read an article that may be life saving for the community. I always cite Thomas Jefferson who said some two hundred years ago:  

He, who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. 

Thomas Jefferson

If the younger generation makes these wise words its guiding lighthouse, we may see a world where equality prevails.” 

This was an inspiring message from Professor Hachani about why equal distribution of knowledge is so important, and ScienceOpen agrees that publishing open access is a way for science to become more inclusive. To hear more from Professor Hachani, you can read the 2016 interview with him here!   

Dr. Dasapta Erwin Irawan 

Photo Credit Dr. Irawan

The final person we heard from was Dr. Dasapata Erwin Irawan. To provide a quick background, Dr. Irawan completed his higher education at the Institut Teknologi Bandung, Indonesia. He majored in geology with a focus on hydrogeology. During his PhD, he worked on hydrochemical data to understand the hydrogeological setting of Mount Ciremai. Aside to working on his research, Dr. Irawan has been participating in open science communities at the national and international level since 2013. He is highly involved in the movement and has multiple publications on the subject. Dr. Irawan’s introduction to the Open Science movement actually came from Jon Tennant. The two discussed this and more about open science in the past interview from 2016 which can be read here. In that interview, Dr. Irawan reflected on the state of Open Access in Indonesia: “Open science is not the priority here, but it’s coming, but I 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.”  

And time has proven Dr. Irawan to have been correct in believing that Open Access would grow quickly, as Indonesia now publishes the most open access journals out of any country in the world. This topic is addressed in a recent article that Dr. Irawan helped write, “Indonesia publishes the most open-access journals in the world: what it means for local research.” Despite this feat, Dr. Irawan still poses some critique in the article to the state of open access in Indonesia as he finds the government could do a better job in supporting the open access publications. Thus, although Indonesia is setting the record for open access journals, they still have some work to do along with the rest of the scientific community to make science even more open.  

We will leave you with Dr. Irawan’s message to young researchers:   

“I am fully aware that metric based measurement is very important to early career researchers, so:  

1) be sure to make your research publicly accessible using various channels (e.g.: self archiving, FAIR data),  

2) do not forget to use scholarly communication to reach a wider audience, and 

3) remember to make a change anywhere you can. 

Because (open) science is science done right.” 

To stay up to date on Dr. Irawan’s research and open science initiatives, you can follow him through his social media channels. His twitter is @dasaptaerwin and his Instagram is @RINarxiv. 

Thank You

We want to thank all of our Open Science Stars for taking the time out of their busy schedules to share their thoughts with ScienceOpen on the current status of the open science movement. 2020 has been a monumental year for many reasons, and the ScienceOpen team hopes you have been enjoying this year’s virtual International Open Access Week. We hope you have enjoyed this Open Science update! Let us know if you would like to see more of this content in the comments.


1 thought on “Following up with our Open Science Stars”

  1. This is great! As a researcher for my dissertation, I could only access materials that did not require my having to pay to access articles. I could have done a more thorough research if articles were available. This is true especially for researchers coming from third world countries. I am glad that there is a push for Open Science.

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