Guide for Your Open Science Journey#

Are you just beginning your open science journey? And not yet sure where to begin? Dive right into important terms and begin working with key tools in Section 1: Core Open Science Skills.

Perhaps you have only just begun to post your code or data online, share your pre-prints, or share your null hypothesis as part of your grant application? Or perhaps you are exploring science communication on a personal blog, or are taking a critical look at the diversity in your lab or research group and actively imagining how to make it more inclusive. Section 2: Engage With Open Science and Section 3: Open Science at Work has suggestions for integrating open science into each step of your research workflow.

Or are you familiar with open science practices and excited to learn more, and bring others on the journey with you? We invite you to join TOPS on our journey! Jump ahead to Section 4: Collaborate With TOPS to get the most out of this guide.

Are you ready to begin your journey towards open science?

Section 1: Core Open Science Skills#

What Motivates You#

Scientists practice “open science” for a variety of reasons. They may be motivated by the desire to make knowledge freely available for everyone, create reusable tools for scientists, or make a particular field more inclusive. In 2013, Benedikt Fecher and Sascha Friesike broke the motivations for practicing open science into “five schools of thought,” but even these have been criticized for not encompassing all the reasons one might be drawn to open science.

The Core Skills#

With so many reasons to get started, it can be hard to determine the first thing everyone must do to begin their open science journey. TOPS recommends that everyone begin by:

  • Getting an ORCID, Zenodo, and GitHub

  • Learning how to assign a DOI

  • Learning how to apply the correct license

  • Learning about data and software management plans

  • Finding community software repositories

  • Understanding how to hold open meetings

Below, we present you with three easy steps to get started with each core area. You can also learn more about each topic in our ever-growing list of open science resources.


An ORCID is a persistent digital identifier that distinguishes you from other researchers. Creating an ORCID allows you to share, and get proper credit for, your data, research, code, and presentations.

Get a GitHub#

GitHub is an online version control and code management website, with a rapidly growing community of developers who use and support it. When code–whether it be scripts, executables, or software–is uploaded to GitHub, different team members can contribute to the same file, preventing duplication of work and making it easier to find errors.

Get a Zenodo Account#

Zenodo is a multi-disciplinary repository that is free to use and access, allowing for any type of scientific work to be freely shared. It is hosted by CERN and is a product of OpenAire, which creates and maintains tools for open science and open scholarship.

  • Step 1: Sign up for Zenodo here. Zenodo lets you sign in with your ORCID or your GitHub, so if you did either of the previous two steps you are off to a good start.

  • Step 2: Integrate Zenodo, ORCID and GitHub. You can ensure that everything you put on Zenodo is automatically synced to your ORCID by using these instructions. These instructions also show you how to save a version of your GitHub repository on Zenodo, which allows you (and others) to cite your software.

  • Step 3: Explore some of the data openly available on Zenodo using the “Communities” feature, which you can access here.

Assign a DOI#

A Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is a unique, alphanumeric code that identifies content (like a scientific publication) and provides a persistent link to its location on the internet. DOIs can be assigned by publishers, or you can assign them yourself using services like Zenodo! The steps below are for adding them to something that has not been formally published, like a presentation you gave at that lab meeting the other day.

  • Step 1: Choose a research artifact that you have previously presented publicly, and upload it to Zenodo using these instructions.

  • Step 2: Once it is uploaded, go to the page that Zenodo creates for that work. Here is an example from the TOPS Zenodo. On the right, you can see the DOI assigned to that work!

  • Step 3: Add the DOI to your personal website, CV, resume or other site where you share your work.

Hold up! (You might be thinking) what was that step about choosing a license? Read on!

Choose a License#

A license lets others know how they can use and share your work, and whether they are allowed to do so in the first place. There are many different licenses, so each of the steps below provides you with resources to learn about the different types. Serena Bonaretti has a great summary video, which is a good place to begin.

  • Step 1: The Open Science Knowledge Base has a fairly concise description of licenses here, that are used for open science. They also point to a tool that can help you narrow down the list of choices, based on answering a few questions about your work.

  • Step 2: Creative Commons licenses grant permission to use the indicated work publicly. Creative Commons (cc) break down their license structure here and also built a tool to make it easier to choose which (cc) license works best for you.

  • Step 3: Licenses for code are a bit different than licenses for publications. A well-written blog post on open-source licenses can be found here, on the Digital Ocean site. The Open Source Initiative also has a complete list of approved open-source software licenses here.

Bonus Step: The Center for Open Science has a summary of all the licenses discussed above here.

Data and Software Management Plans#

Data Management Plans and Software Management plans are designed to help researchers describe the lifecycle of their data and software. In other words, where information will be stored, how it will remain accessible and secure, and where it will be archived when the project is over. Often, applying for a grant requires writing either a Data Management Plan, a Software Management Plan, or both!

  • Step 1. The basic questions that should be answered by any Data Management Plan are available from the University of Arizona here. The basic questions that should be answered by any Software Management Plan are available from the Software Sustainability Institute here.

  • Step 2: Resources for writing a Data Management Plan are available from Harvard here. Although written to assist researchers with writing grants for NIH, it contains definitions of key terms, and resources to assist researchers with writing their own Data Management Plans. MIT has a similar introduction available here.

  • Step 3: A checklist for writing a Software Management Plan can be found here, and is courtesy of Michael Jackson from the Software Sustainability Institute.

Bonus Steps: Did you know NASA requires Data Management Plans for certain grant submissions? NASA’s resources are here! Also, EarthCube has strong resources for learning how to make data more Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reproducible here

Community Software Repositories#

The term “community software repositories” refers to groups of researchers (often doing research in the same scientific area) that have agreed to share code using a particular platform. This facilitates the sharing, continued evolution of, and use of scientific research software. The repository that is most valuable to you will depend on your field, where you are in your career, and the tools you use to do your research.

  • Step 1: To learn more about the motivation behind sharing code, we invite you to read “Share the code, not just the data” by Anna Laurinavichyute, ​​Himanshu Yadav, and Shravan Vasishth.

  • Step 2: For an example of a community-lead project, we point you to Pangeo. On their home-page, Pangeo describes themselves as “…first and foremost a community promoting open, reproducible, and scalable science. This community provides documentation, develops and maintains software, and deploys computing infrastructure to make scientific research and programming easier.”

  • Step 3: Learn how to get started with your own open project using this crowd-sourced checklist.

Holding Open Meetings#

Holding meetings which are open to the public–or at least to the entire research team–can be challenging, but they also provide an invaluable opportunity to get input on strategy, plans, and roadblocks. By involving those that might not have traditionally been “in the room” when important decisions were made, teams have an increased chance of finding innovative solutions to problems. However, meetings cannot be opened without considering the safety and comfort of everyone in the room.

  • Step 1: Before you schedule your first open meeting, write a code of conduct.

    • Codes of conduct can be used both to moderate an online community, such as a discussion board or a Facebook group, and as well as to set standards for live conversations. Open Source Guides has step-by-step instructions for writing a code of conduct here.

    • You are also welcome to look at TOPS’ code of conduct as an example of one which is meant to be used both in an online and “live meeting” setting. Additionally, Write the Docs has a Code of Conduct Response Guide that lays out a possible approach to receiving a code of conduct violation.

  • Step 2: When you have your topic for the meeting selected and are ready to begin inviting your guests, be sure to select and train moderators.

    • Moderation is a separate role from leading the meeting; the moderator is explicitly charged with ensuring that the code of conduct is followed, and that everyone at the meeting feels heard and included. In addition to gently taking aside anyone who has violated the code of conduct, this could mean watching for “raised hands” and questions in the chat in a virtual space, or physically walking a microphone over to someone in an auditorium.

    • The number of moderators needed will scale with the size of the meeting, so if your meeting is large enough to have an organizing committee, be sure this is discussed ahead of time. Resources for online moderators are available here. The National Association of Science Writers details how they handle code of conduct violations here which includes a section of how violations are handled during meetings.

  • Step 3: Ensure your meetings are inclusive and accessible.

    • Creating an inclusive environment will ensure that everyone, particularly those who might feel left out of the scientific process, have an opportunity to share their ideas. A few guides to inclusive meetings that we recommend are available from Harvard , Quiet Revolutions , Gabi Serrato Marks, and Kathryn Heath and Brenda F. Wensil.

    • An accessible environment means considering how folks will interact with the audience, the presented materials, and one another. Easy first steps may be providing closed captioning, ASL interpreters, or ensuring that slides are color-blind friendly. To go beyond this, we recommend these resources made available by Natalie L Shaheen at the Advancing Research in Society conference of March 2023.

Bonus Step: Additional resources for building an open science community are available here from the Center for Scientific Collaboration and Community Engagement.

Section 2: Engage with Open Science#

The Transform to Open Science team is building on the shoulders of giants.

Countless scientists, researchers, software developers, and individuals driven by curiosity have thought about, written about, published, and released resources to help others get started with open science. TOPS’ has been curating some that have helped us on the following pages – feel free to submit a pull request to suggest your own!

Read These Open Science Resources#

TOPS is collecting a living list of open science resources! You can find the latest version here; it contains information about existing open science trainings, guides for data science, and a list of open science publications referenced when creating the TOPS open science curriculum.

Get Started with Open-Source Code#

We have collected tutorials for getting started with open-source coding in our coding resources page. In addition to general resources, there are links to specific tips for documenting scientific software as well as getting started with coding. Ready to get a bit more granular? Here is a suggested checklist for your own open-source code documentation.

Start Thinking Like a Data Scientist#

Dr. Lawrence Gray presented at PyData New York City in November 2022 on 20 easy steps that we can all take to build confidence in our data science skills. Many researchers might not think of themselves as “data scientists” necessarily, but everyone who analyzes data can benefit from his “20 Ideas To Build Social Capital In The Data Science Ecosystem”.

Get Involved in a Year of Open Science#

Ready to talk to others about your open science journey? Excited to learn more about open science at NASA? Join in on the activities for 2023!

Section 3: Open Science at Work#

Now that you have committed to adopting open science into your work, you may be wondering how the core skills listed above fit into a scientific workflow. This next section walks through how they relate to different aspects of research, and introduces additional tools. These recommendations mirror the structure that will be used in NASA’s Open Science Curriculum which will be released online in Spring 2023.

Ethos of Open Science: The values that drive open science practice#

What are the foundational values for practicing open science in your group, lab, or organization? We invite you to examine the publication, licensing, and/or data-sharing policy you use, and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What open science values are reflected in those policies?

  • What could be improved?

  • Who or what does the policy benefit? Who or what does it hinder?

  • What can you do, within the confines of this policy, to adapt your scientific practice to be more open?

Two Articles to Get You Started:

Open Data: Using data which is available openly, and making your data open in return#

When you use data created by others in your work, you can practice open science by doing any number of the following:

  • Noting the license assigned to that dataset, and making sure you abide by it

  • Citing the data throughout your research artifacts (e.g., academic publication, research notebooks, presentations)

  • Creating a data management plan for using that data

When you collect your own data, you can practice open science by doing any number of the following:

Two Articles to Get You Started:

Open-Source Software: Sharing code and giving proper credit for code#

When you write code for your research–-whether it be a simple, command-line script, functions in an Excel sheet, or custom software–-you can practice open science by doing any number of the following:

  • If permitted by your research organization, upload your code to GitHub or some other, code-sharing platform

  • Assign your code/software as permissive a license as possible, and document it in a “License” file

  • Write a “Read Me” file explaining the purpose of the code/software

  • Write a “Contributors” file with the names of everyone who helped build the code, and crediting anyone who created anything you used as a resource or model

Two Articles to Get You Started:

  • A very good example of a Read Me, including the license and contributors, is available here thank you to Billie Thompson for sharing

  • Laurinavichyute, Anna. Yadav, Himanshu. Vasishth, Shravan. “Share the code, not just the data: A case study of the reproducibility of JML articles published under the open data policy.” 2022.

Open Results: Making the results, methods, and publications open to everyone#

When you are ready to share your results with the world, you can practice open science by doing any number of the following:

  • Use your ORCID to identify yourself in your publications

  • If possible, try to publish in an open access journal

  • If permitted by the journal, while waiting for your article to be peer reviewed, share your pre-print on a pre-print archive

  • If permitted by the journal, publish your methodology using Open Science Framework or some other “workbook” sharing site

  • If permitted by the journal, upload the final version of your work to Zenodo and/or other publication-sharing sites

  • If you present your work, upload your slides and (if able) a recording or transcript of your work to Zenodo

Two Articles to Get You Started:

  • Piwowar H, Priem J, Larivière V, Alperin JP, Matthias L, Norlander B, Farley A, West J, Haustein S. (2018) The state of OA: a large-scale analysis of the prevalence and impact of Open Access articles. PeerJ 6:e4375

  • Gil, Y., et al. (2016), Toward the Geoscience Paper of the Future: Best practices for documenting and sharing research from data to software to provenance, Earth and Space Science, 3, 388– 415, doi:10.1002/2015EA000136.

Open Science Tools: What we use to conduct open science#

Open science tools are varied, and built for different purposes. Some, like GitHub, are built by companies to be used by both individuals and organizations. Others, like the coding-language Julia, are crowd-sourced. Tools that can be used at each stage of the research process by both open science beginners and experts have been mentioned throughout this section. If you are curious about discovering more, several popular tools are reviewed in the article, Open Science Top Ten Tools – All Open Source!.

Section 4: Collaborate With TOPS#

Ready to celebrate open science with NASA? Read on to learn about individual participation opportunities!

Collect Open Science Success Stories#

What is it?

At conferences, during webinars and community forums, and via one-on-one conversation, TOPS is collecting stories about projects and people who have demonstrated the success of open science practices. Examples of these Open Science Success Stories can be found on and on the TOPS GitHub.

How do I get started?

Collect open science stories about your organization, highlighting how open science makes research teams more diverse and inclusive, and research more accessible, transparent, reproducible and replicable. You can either post these stories on your organization’s blog, webpage or podcast, or contribute to TOPS open science story project.

Basic Requirements

In order to document an Open Science Story, the following elements should be included in the blog or interview:

  • The interviewee’s personal definition of open science, and how it connects to NASA’s definition

  • A description of at least one, distinct research project or scientific initiative which demonstrates open science principles or practices.

  • Information or stories about the challenges or barriers faced when first embarking on the open science project, as well as the ultimate benefits of preserving, to help encourage others to also adopt open science.

  • If possible, post this story with a CC-BY license and share it on Zenodo or some other persistent identifier site, to facilitate sharing.

  • Tweet it out! Use social media, listservs, your organization’s news page or other methods to share this story with your community.

TOPS Will Provide

TOPS will provide organizations with the following support:

Encourage Participation in the TOPS Open Science Curriculum#

What is it?

Whether someone is looking to transition to a new way of conducting research or just getting started in their scientific career, TOPS aims to meet everyone where they are at on their open science journey. As such, one of TOPS’ priorities is to develop and launch an open science curriculum that includes important definitions, tools, resources and best practices. You can learn more about the TOPS curriculum and other capacity sharing activities on our GitHub.

A “fast-pass” option will be available for those who are already well-versed in open science, and current open science practitioners will be able to complete activities in order to earn the final TOPS open science badge. For those who prefer to go through the full course, micro-badges will be available at every module and the TOPS open science badge will be awarded at the end. (Why badging? Learn more at Micro-Badging Details on the TOPS GitHub.)

How do I get started?

Join the TOPS email list to get announcements, including the dates when the first version of the NASA open science curriculum is released. Once available, share the Open Science 101 with your organization and encourage participation via newsletters, announcement boards, tweets, emails or whichever communication method you prefer.

Basic Requirements

When encouraging folks at your organization to participate in the TOPS Open Science curriculum, be sure to mention:

  • TOPS’ goal to train 20,000 scientists,

  • The fast-pass option for those already familiar with open science, and

  • The badging structure.

TOPS Will Provide

To help make this effort a success, TOPS will provide organizations with the following support:

  • The TOPS open science curriculum (coming soon!).

  • A list of open science resources to get started, while the curriculum is under development.

  • Year of Open Science branding packet, including templates for stickers, presentation templates, Zoom backgrounds, and a guide for the use of NASA’s and TOPS’ logo and name

Encourage Your Community to join the TOPS Open Meetings#

What is it?

Every month, TOPS has an open meeting to share updates on TOPS events, progress against our goals, and resources for conducting open science. During these community forums, TOPS can directly receive feedback from the community in the form of interactive tools, web-chat, and breakout rooms. Information from our past community forums to-date can be found on our GitHub in the Community Forums directory.

How do I get started?

Sign up for the TOPS email list to get information on each month’s topic, and sign-up for the next event.

Basic Requirements

When encouraging folks at your organization to join us at the next TOPS community forum, be sure to mention:

  • TOPS’ mission goals and areas of action, a summary of which is here, and

  • To join the listserv (here).

TOPS Will Provide

To help make this effort a success, TOPS will provide organizations with the following support:

  • Materials from each community forum, which can be found on our GitHub in the Community Forums directory.

  • Year of Open Science branding packet, including templates for stickers, presentation templates, Zoom backgrounds, and a guide for the use of NASA’s and TOPS’ logo and name.

Open Science at Conferences#

Wish to promote a Year of Open Science at your next conference? Navigate to the TOPS Conferences Guide to learn how.