What is open science?
Open Science is the principle and practice of making research products and processes available to all, while respecting diverse cultures, maintaining security and privacy, and fostering collaborations, reproducibility, and equity.
NASA and Open Science
AT NASA, we believe that open science is also a commitment to a collaborative culture, enabled by technology, that empowers the open sharing of data, information, and knowledge within the scientific community and the wider public to accelerate scientific research and understanding. Open science is accessible, reproducible, and inclusive and has positive effects such as more citations and usage of publications, increased scholarly collaborations, greater transparency of research, widening access to “hidden knowledge,” and a broadening of participation in science which encourages more equitable systems.
Through programs such as the Open-Source Science Initiative (OSSI) and the Transform to Open Science (TOPS) mission, NASA looks to pursue an ethos of open-source science; open-source science accelerates discovery by conducting science openly from project initiation through implementation. The result is the inclusion of a wider, more diverse community in the scientific process as close to the start of research activities as possible. This increased level of commitment to conducting the full research process openly and without restriction further enhances transparency and reproducibility, which promotes trust in the scientific process. It also represents a cultural shift that encourages collaboration and participation among practitioners of diverse backgrounds, including scientific discipline, gender, ethnicity, and expertise.
Open science and open-source science definitions are always influenced by the particular lived experience, academic training, and research background of those putting forth that definition. A good overview of five, distinct yet interrelated definitions is provided in Fecher, B., Friesike, S. (2014). Open Science: One Term, Five Schools of Thought. In: Bartling, S., Friesike, S. (eds) Opening Science. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-00026-8_2.
Here are some of the definitions of open science, as put forth by different teams at NASA:
- “When properly implemented, open science policies promote ‘efficiency, greater collaboration, reduced duplication, . . . a broadening of the user community, improved code testing, more reproducible research, and enhance[d] research transparency’ (NASEM, 2018, p. 3).”
- “NASA’s Earth Science Data Systems (ESDS) Program defines open science as a collaborative culture enabled by technology that empowers the open sharing of data, information, and knowledge within the scientific community and the wider public to accelerate scientific research and understanding. A system based on open science aims to make the scientific process as transparent (or open) as possible by making all elements of a claimed discovery readily accessible, which enables results to be repeated and validated.”
- “Open science is an evolving paradigm that seeks to foster greater inclusivity, diversity, and participation in the scientific process while increasing transparency and reproducibility.”
- “Open-source science is a commitment to the open sharing of software, data, and knowledge (algorithms, papers, documents, ancillary information) as early as possible in the scientific process. The principles of open-source science are to make publicly funded scientific research transparent, inclusive, accessible, and reproducible.”
Some Q&A about Open Science
What is open-source science (OSS)?
Open-source science is a commitment to the open sharing of software, data, and knowledge (algorithms, papers, documents, ancillary information) from the start of research activities. The principles of OSS are to make publicly funded scientific research transparent, inclusive, accessible, and reproducible. OSS is enabled by advances in technology, including collaboration tools and cloud computing. More information is available from NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) Policy Document (SPD-41) on science information policy.
What is the difference between open-source science and open science?
Ramachandran et al. define open science as “a collaborative culture enabled by technology that empowers the open sharing of data, information, and knowledge within the scientific community and the wider public to accelerate scientific research and understanding.” The primary difference is that open-source science commits to making the scientific process open from the start of research activities rather than making research results open once the research is complete and papers are published. The commitment to conduct research in the open supports greater participation in answering fundamental scientific questions and the use of publicly funded research, data, and analysis for societal benefit.
What is the difference between open-source science and open data?
Open data are a critical component of open-source science. Other components of OSS include open documentation, publications, citizen science, challenges/prizes, open-source software, open peer review, open notebooks, and open educational resources among others.
Is the lack of open science a cultural or technical issue?
Both. Open science is more than just the open sharing of data and code. It also is a cultural shift in the scientific process that encourages collaboration among people of diverse backgrounds, including scientific field, gender, location, ethnicity, and expertise. By removing barriers to participation in the scientific process, open-source science is inherently inclusive and collaborative. NASA’s vision is to use open science principles to expand participation in the scientific process, improve reproducibility, and accelerate scientific discovery for societal benefit. Technological considerations include use of existing investments in infrastructure and mechanisms for community contributions, while limiting the proliferation of unvalidated data.
Does open science mean "free" science?
Open science is the commitment to the full, free, and open sharing of data, code and knowledge as early in the research process as possible.
In terms of activities related to NASA’s Open-Source Science Initiative, Science Mission Directorate (SMD) Policy Document (SPD-41) consolidates existing guidance for the openness and accessibility of data, software, papers, and ancillary information resulting from SMD-funded efforts
What is the first step to getting involved with open science?
The first step is to support open-source science efforts within your communities. The Turing Way is a community-driven guide that provides more details on how to design open projects. TOPS is developing an open science curriculum that will become available in late 2022. The UNESCO recommendations have detailed definitions and suggestions on areas of action to support open science.
What incentives and disincentives are being used to encourage open science?
NASA awards funding based on the strength of the scientific ideas and the ability to advance those for societal benefit. Traditionally, the enterprise has awarded individuals, but without a focus on openness; incentives have been based on publishing papers in big-release journals. However, NASA will take the next year to shift incentive structures from what they have been in the past, to include incentivizing open science activities (eg. collaborations, team-building, open data, open software, and open-access publications). This shift requires NASA to engage with professional organizations, academia, etc. to make it happen and be appropriately recognized. It is important to note that this shift is not automatic but rather will require some experimentation to see what works and what does not. It is also imperative that NASA get feedback from the community to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of its OSS efforts.
How do I know that my code will not be taken without proper attribution?
One of the principles of open science is proper attribution of previous work, collaborations, and knowledge used from various sources. Making your code open, appropriately licenced, and assigning it a DOI will help researchers track code being developed. The open development of code should make it easier to identify when people aren’t properly attributing their work.
Can you recommend some resources to help people develop their research using open science principles?
One of the goals of TOPS is to develop resources to help researchers, organizations, and citizen scientists do their work using open science practices and principles. TOPS is developing an open science curriculum that will become available in late 2022. Please sign up for our newsletter to receive the latest updates!.
How can I advocate for open science?
A few ways to get started are: Make data non-proprietary and available in an open repository; Provide datasets in standardized formats and assign them DOIs; Develop open-source software and code, using best practices and rigorous version control, so that people can reuse it; Support community development and encourage reuse; Publish in open-access journals; Actively engage the public through storytelling (blogging, social media), hack-a-thons, and citizen science; and cite your data, software, and documentation.
Can you expand a bit more on how NASA is thinking about open science in terms of the research outputs domain?
TOPS is advocating a vision of open science in which the entire research workflow--from inception to the creation of data and software artifacts and publishing results--is as open as possible.
What kind of training and educational initiatives could we implement to make open science more accessible?
ScienceCore is just the beginning; TOPS will announce in late 2022, the upcoming Year of Open Science which will include a comprehensive plan on engaging with the scientific community through hackathons and summer/winter schools, and at all the large science society conferences. Check out our calendar and we hope to see you there!
How can research and data-driven artists further science?
One way to broaden participation is through making science more accessible and the arts are one way to do that. We hope to have a Space Apps challenge focused on STEAM initiatives to get people from all of the world thinking about this.
How does citizen science connect to open science?
We realize that the road to making open science a reality doesn’t begin and end with academics and NASA scientists. We want to reach science-interested populations too! Citizen science provides an opportunity for the general science-interested public to get involved with scientific research to address societal needs, particularly those at a regional or local level, and to advance innovation.
How can data scientists and machine learning experts help further open science?
There are open science principles that those working with code and data can incorporate into their work, even if it is not “traditional” scientific research. They can make the underlying data findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (which is known as the FAIR principles). Any code which is developed should be as open as possible (e.g., open-source or white-listing); including the creation of clear documentation so that others can build on your work.