Open Science and publishing

Open science and publishing

The concept open science has been understood in a variety of ways. Also the practices related to and leading to open science (including social sciences and humanities) have been defined in a multitude of ways. Based on literature review Fresher and Friesike (2013) identified five strands of thoughts describing the essence of open science. Each school of thoughts have their ideas and principles for justifying openness, and ways of practicing it. The schools of thought identified by Fresher and Friesike (2013) are the following:

The Public school of thought:

  • is accessible to a wider public
  • both process and results of scientific research should be more open and comprehensible to the non-expert audience

The Democratic school of thought:

  • pursue democratic access to knowledge
  • there should be equal rights for all to access knowledge, including research publications and scientific data, especially when in publicly funded research
  • the dissemination of information (i.e. research publications) should be as wide possible

The pragmatic school of thought:

  • open science is a method of making research and knowledge dissemination efficient
  • science is to be optimized by openness, for example by collaborative knowledge production

The infrastructure school of thought:

  • open science is a technological challenge, which can be approached by software tools and applications and computing networks
  • attention ought to be paid to the technical infrastructure which enables the emergence of research practices on the internet

The measurement school of thought:

  • in the digital age, alternative standards for ascertaining scientific impact should be sought instead of the traditional impact factors (i.e. measuring the number of citations)
  • new impact measures should be developed, including altmetrics – the new impact measures need to take into account not only the publication but also process and collaboration

Thus, as Fresher and Friesike (2013) points, there are multitudes of ways of comprehending open science but also multitudes of ways to practice it.

Along with research funders and publishers, ethics review boards are gatekeepers and guardians of the principle of openness. Ethics review boards will need to consider how researchers seeking an ethics review plan to manage their data, share data and results, publish results, and archive data. Not all data can be open to public. Ethical reasons for not opening data may involve, for instance, placing research participants at risk or harming them. This could happen if individuals, groups or institutions are identifiable and if the research participants belong to a specific, identifiable group of people.

Core questions that ethics review boards will need to consider at a minimum include the following:

  • what kind of data do researchers collect/handle, and can it be anonymized?
  • If anonymized, is it safe to share the data, and if so, how do the researchers plan to share the data?
  • How do researchers plan to share the results of their research, and do the plans honor the quest for open access?


Benedikt Fecher & Sascha Friesike, 2013. "Open Science: One Term, Five Schools of Thought," Working Paper Series of the German Council for Social and Economic Data 218, German Council for Social and Economic Data (RatSWD).

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DORA (2012). San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment. DORA Community.

European Commission (2017). European Open Science Cloud Declaration, European Commission

European Commission. Open Science (Open Access).

  1. Wilkinson, M. D. et al. (2016). The FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific data management and stewardship, Scientific Data 3, Article number: 160018.
  2. Please find her the link to the FOSTER portal which is an e-learning platform for Open Science developed in EU-funded project Fostering the practical implementation of Open Science in Horizon 2020 and beyond (FOSTER plus).

Learning objectives

  • Identifying stances on open science and their implications
  • Recognising European guidelines pertinent to open science guidelines


The term Open Science invokes many different meanings. The denominator that these meanings have in common is the idea of making research more transparent (Fresher & Friesike 2013). Openness has traditionally been a core principle in research. While the idea of openness in research is not new, yet developments in information technology have made openness in the different phases or research possible in an extent that was not there before. Research can now be open from planning to data acquisition to publication and finally to archiving and reuse of data (see for example

Open science has been seen as a corner stone in promoting societal impact and science in and for society. Plan-S is a recent initiative for open research and open access, which has gained wide support in academia. Plan-S claims that “open access Is foundational to the scientific enterprise” and further states:

 “Universality is a fundamental principle of science (the term “science” as used here includes the humanities): only results that can be discussed, challenged, and, where appropriate, tested and reproduced by others qualify as scientific. Science, as an institution of organised criticism, can therefore only function properly if research results are made openly available to the community so that they can be submitted to the test and scrutiny of other researchers. Furthermore, new research builds on established results from previous research. The chain, whereby new scientific discoveries are built on previously established results, can only work optimally if all research results are made openly available to the scientific community”.

In line with efforts to open research results, opening of research data has gained much attention. The Open Knowledge Foundation states that “data should be available as a whole, at no more than a reasonable reproduction cost (preferably through download) and in a convenient and modifiable form” (cf. Fresher & Friesike 2013, 2), unless there ethical or legal reasons not to open data.

Guidelines (e.g. European Open Science Cloud Declaration by European Commission) emphasize the need for a change in culture recognizing research data as an output of research, along publications and patents that have traditionally been main outputs.

The call for openness also requires a high degree of accountability, which has become a principle equally important as openness itself.


Benedikt Fecher & Sascha Friesike, 2013. "Open Science: One Term, Five Schools of Thought," Working Paper Series of the German Council for Social and Economic Data 218, German Council for Social and Economic Data (RatSWD).

Cases and Questions - Open science and publishing

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Plan S is an initiative for Open Access publishing supported by the European Union, European Research Council, and a number of national funding agencies and charities.

Review the principles and implementation of Plan S:

- In your view, what role can research integrity offices and ethics review boards do to support open science and open access?