Does Open Scholarship Lead to Better Research Outcomes?
ICOR’s registered projects are asking: does open scholarship really promote faster and more innovative, collaborative, and reproducible outcomes? Join our public meeting, May 17th, 10:30am-12:00pm EDT, to discuss and learn about our efforts to build evidence. See the agenda and register for the meeting.
Open scholarship has been touted as a means of accelerating research progress, promoting collaboration, and enhancing reproducibility. Proponents argue that open scholarship enables wider access to research materials, facilitates greater transparency, and fosters more opportunities for collaboration. And collaboration has been shown to increase both the impact and speed in delivering results, as demonstrated by the COVID-19 vaccine successes.
However, others remain skeptical of these claims and suggest that open scholarship may actually hinder research progress, create unnecessary conflicts, and lead to questionable research outcomes. Our hearts and minds believe openness is the right path, but more evidence is needed.
Evidence for Open Scholarship
Our hearts and minds believe openness is the right path, but more evidence is needed.
Several studies have demonstrated the benefits of open scholarship. For example, open access publishing has been shown to increase the impact and visibility of research publications, as well as to promote more citations and downloads (Piwowar et al., 2018). Open data sharing has been shown to facilitate the reproducibility of research findings, as well as to promote more collaboration and data reuse (Kidwell et al., 2018). Open peer review has been shown to increase the transparency and accountability of the scientific review process, as well as to promote more diverse and representative reviewer panels (Tennant et al., 2018).
Additionally, open science practices can facilitate collaboration across different disciplines and fields, as researchers from different areas are able to access and use each other’s data and materials more easily (Camerer et al., 2018). Overall, open science has the potential to enhance collaboration among researchers, which can lead to greater innovation and progress in scientific research.
Evidence Against Open Scholarship
Some studies have raised concerns about potential downsides of open scholarship. For example, researchers have argued that open access publishing models may perpetuate inequities in the distribution of research funding and opportunities, particularly for underrepresented groups. Concerns are commonly raised about potential conflicts of interest and competition that may arise from open data sharing, particularly in fields with high levels of commercial interest. Others report that open scholarship practices are onerous and waste time and precious resources. Finally, some have raised concerns about potential biases and conflicts that may arise in open peer review, particularly if reviewers are not diverse in terms of their backgrounds and experiences (Squazzoni et al., 2021).
The Need for More Evidence
The evidence for open scholarship remains mixed — more research is needed to determine its true impact.
Despite these concerns, the evidence for open scholarship remains mixed, and more research is needed to determine the true impact of open scholarship on research outcomes, collaboration, and reproducibility. Initiatives such as Incentivizing Collaborative Open Research (ICOR), the Pew Evidence Projects, Research on Research Institute (RORI), and CREOS from MIT Libraries are examples of efforts to gather and promote evidence on the value of open scholarship.
Join this discussion on Evidence-based Implementation of Open Collaborative Research May 17th, 10:30am-12:00pm EDT by registering here. The agenda includes reports on current studies and experiments happening in the world of open and collaborative research including a report on the new eLife Publishing Model, an overview of the PLOS Open Science Indicators project, a study on fair and equitable APCs from the Gates Foundation, and more.