Open Science is an approach to the conduct of science in which the whole of an ongoing scientific investigation–data, ideas, questions, plans, results and more–is made available online. Open Science began as a way to facilitate the workings of multi-site and multi-national research collaborations but practitioners may choose to adopt it as much for philosophical as for pragmatic reasons. Conducting research as ‘open science’ has implications for research practice, peer-review, trust and reputation, publishing and access.

Open Science projects exist through and depend on the Internet; therefore they are potentially accessible to audiences–including public audiences–beyond the research groups that generate their content. Thus Open Science offers both a novel medium for direct, unmediated access to the process of science and an innovative method for scientists to communicate about their work live, unedited and in real-time.

Does Open Science clear the stream of communication through direct access or muddy the waters with unfocussed, unclear and unvetted comment? This paper will discuss recent analysis of data derived from interviews and case-studies to probe these issues more fully. The analysis suggests that adopting an Open Science approach will allow the capture of an authentic and clear record of research as well as increase and improve access to research outputs. However, researchers acknowledge that this involves opening themselves and their work up to a different quality of scrutiny. For researchers, Open Science both enhances the development of collaboration and communication among research groups and is a way for publicly-funded researchers to meet their responsibilities to communicate with the wider public. Open Science can allow members of the public to contribute directly to research although the need for contextualisation of complex science may place demands on researchers’ time and skills.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Muddying the waters or clearing the stream?
Open science as a communication medium

Ann Grand   Science Communication Unit, University of the West of England

Karen Bultitude   Science Communication Unit, University of the West of England

Clare Wilkinson   Science Communication Unit, University of the West of England

Alan Winfield   Science Communication Unit, University of the West of England

Open Science is an approach to the conduct of science in which the whole of an ongoing scientific investigation–data, ideas, questions, plans, results and more–is made available online. Open Science began as a way to facilitate the workings of multi-site and multi-national research collaborations but practitioners may choose to adopt it as much for philosophical as for pragmatic reasons. Conducting research as ‘open science’ has implications for research practice, peer-review, trust and reputation, publishing and access.

Open Science projects exist through and depend on the Internet; therefore they are potentially accessible to audiences–including public audiences–beyond the research groups that generate their content. Thus Open Science offers both a novel medium for direct, unmediated access to the process of science and an innovative method for scientists to communicate about their work live, unedited and in real-time.

Does Open Science clear the stream of communication through direct access or muddy the waters with unfocussed, unclear and unvetted comment? This paper will discuss recent analysis of data derived from interviews and case-studies to probe these issues more fully. The analysis suggests that adopting an Open Science approach will allow the capture of an authentic and clear record of research as well as increase and improve access to research outputs. However, researchers acknowledge that this involves opening themselves and their work up to a different quality of scrutiny. For researchers, Open Science both enhances the development of collaboration and communication among research groups and is a way for publicly-funded researchers to meet their responsibilities to communicate with the wider public. Open Science can allow members of the public to contribute directly to research although the need for contextualisation of complex science may place demands on researchers’ time and skills.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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