Thursday, November 2, 2023 News

CERN-NASA Summit Convenes Open Science Thought Leaders Seeking to Promote Greater Collaboration

Open Access

More than 100 open science leaders, policymakers, practitioners, and advocates met in Geneva, Switzerland, July 10-14 for a summit sponsored by CERN and NASA to develop strategies for accelerating the adoption of global open science. 

On November 1, organizers released a closing statement and call to action for the work going forward.

Members of the SPARC and the Open Research Funders Group (ORFG) teams who were involved in crafting, presenting, and moderating the program say the event was an encouraging sign of the community coming together to advance open science.

“This was an important contribution in creating a structured community of open science practitioners and leaders who are committed to harmonizing policies around that world,” said SPARC Executive Director Heather Joseph. 

The participants represented a diverse group from 70 different institutions—public and private—all of whom were actively engaged in promoting open science policies, activities, and strategies at varying levels. The summit was a mix of presentations and small group clinics where individuals exchanged experiences about what is and isn’t working with issues involving sharing data from experiments, open-source hardware, open-source software and open infrastructure.

Rather than thinking of policy as a mandatory compliance issue, the conference emphasized the need to reframe the message. “Policies should be constructed as ways to make open science easier and more rewarding for people to do. It’s policy as an incentivizer, an opportunity to reward rather than a to-do list item to comply with,” Joseph said.  

Joseph, along with Greg Tananbaum, Director of the Open Research Funders Group, were on the summit program planning committee and both presented at the event. Tananbaum emphasized that moving from open science from policy to action will take better infrastructure, training, incentives, and cross-sector coordination. At the summit, he said it was enlightening to see the range of actors involved.

“I was impressed by different activities across geographies, across disciplines and across different aspects of the open scholarship landscape doing really interesting and potentially transformative things,” Tananbaum said. “To see the depth and the breadth of what’s happening was really exciting.”

Erin McKiernan, ORFG Community Manager, another summit presenter, noted there were many peer-to-peer connections made at the event that were encouraging. “A mini community of practice and sharing environment developed that I think was beneficial,” said McKiernan. “Many people made contacts that they’re going to capitalize on as they continue to work through these policy processes.”

From the event, McKiernan and Tananbaum said they see an opportunity to repurpose policy development resources ORFG has created resources for funders to help other types of actors, such as government agencies. Providing sample language and tools for model policies could make it easier for those struggling with implementation.

SPARC’s Eunice Mercado-Lara, Open and Equitable Project Manager for ORFG, also facilitated a clinic at the summit. She said it was interesting to hear from a variety of perspectives beyond academics about the challenges and benefits of adopting open science policies.

In addition to open science accelerating the pace of discovery, it can also be valuable for government agencies addressing climate change and making services more efficient to the public, said Mercado-Lara. She added that it’s important to highlight success stories of open science by a variety of actors, including indigenous communities.

The summit was held at a time when there is increased attention and resources focused on making sharing of research more transparent during the 2023  Year of Open Science.  The event underscored the importance of FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable) practices to make it easy to efficiently collaborate and improve discoverability and reproducibility.

For those interested in advancing the effort, the call to action invites anyone interested to join one of four working groups that will address: 1) sustainable & interoperable open infrastructure; 2) incentives; 3) equitable open science; and 4)  evidence-based open research policy.

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