Despite Chances for Scientific Discovery, the Joint Implementation of Open Access and Open Source Remains Limited

OpenTechSummit 2017, Potsdam, Germany, May 25, 2017 | © Courtesy of OpenTech Summit/Flickr.
OpenTechSummit 2017, Potsdam, Germany, May 25, 2017 | © Courtesy of OpenTech Summit/Flickr.

Though interpretations of Open Science usually involve discussions of Open Access and associated initiatives, such as the Plan S, in this context the articulation of Open Source’s importance is predominantly prefatory. Nevertheless, as examples of the deployment of Open Access projects on the basis of Open Source software components show, joining the benefits of Open Access and Open Source can give a forward impetus to the development of science.

A Blog Article by Pablo Markin.

While, as a recent article by Glyn Moody published on December 3, 2018, indicates, the theoretical foundations of Open Science can be traced back to the inaugural issue of Philosophical Transactions of the British Royal Society from 1667, its principles of public access to scholarly findings and results, such as in the form of texts and applications, as an engine of scientific progress via the unrestrained dissemination of knowledge in all domains of inquiry closely correspond to those of Open Access. Yet as most of scientific projects widely utilize digital tools, Open Source can also be argued to be integral to Open Science, even though it is not infrequently omitted from the policy-making discourse on transitioning to Open Access, such as in European Union-level statements, declarations and workshops in recent years.

By contrast for many applied science fields, Open Source is increasingly indispensable for the continued advancement of research, its accessibility and its cost-effectiveness, since it involves free software solutions and platforms accessible to the general public as well as scholarly communities at no cost. Moreover, Open Source can be argued to be critical for the on-going development of Open Science and Open Access. For instance, the scientific article by Yevgeniya Antonova-Koch and colleagues published on December 7, 2018, strongly indicates that Open Source tools have significantly contributed to the discovery of anti-malarial drugs.

Similarly, on December 6, 2018, Libero, an Open Source research communication platform jointly developed by Hindawi, an Open Access publisher, eLife, a scientific communication non-profit organization dedicated to Open Science and based in Cambridge, United Kingdom, and the equally non-profit Collaborative Knowledge Foundation was unveiled. The aim of this platform is to further Open Access in science through innovative publishing solutions, while streamlining communication between scholarly authors, editors and reviewers.

Likewise, an Open Source, blockchain-based platform seeks to speed up the process of biomedical and pharmaceutical drug discovery, while aiming to remove intellectual property barriers to information sharing amongst scientists. A further indication of the growing importance of Open Source for Open Science and Open Access is the recent report by OCLC Research and euroCRIS on the international research information management practices published on December 5, 2018.

According to this report, alongside commercial software, Open Source platforms are increasingly deployed by research organizations, such as university libraries, around the world. Thus, whereas discussions of Open Science overwhelmingly concentrate on Open Access and its models, the importance of Open Source for these areas of policy and practice may be underappreciated.

By Pablo Markin

Featured Image Credits: OpenTechSummit 2017, Potsdam, Germany, May 25, 2017 | © Courtesy of OpenTech Summit/Flickr.

This post is based on an article that originally appeared in OpenScience, 7/12/2018,

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