Stakeholders’ perceptions on the relationship between open science and research ethics and integrity
ROSiE engages stakeholders to ensure outputs are reflective of the needs and values of key actors in the research ecosystem. Therefore, interviews and focus groups were conducted to chart stakeholders’ views on the relationship between open science and research ethics and integrity. While they are largely compatible or even mutually reinforcing, challenges persist in some key areas of research ethics located at the intersection of open science and data protection. By contrast, challenges related to open science and research integrity are mostly caused by problematic incentives and capacity gaps. To develop audience-tailored tools to support the transition to responsible open science, ROSiE should use a co-creation approach
ROSiE aims to align research ethics and integrity with open science to strengthen research governance, improve research conduct and enhance trust in science. Accomplishing these objectives requires endorsement, uptake and embedding of project outputs by a broad range of actors in the research ecosystem. Thus, ROSiE has explored the needs, values and opinions of various stakeholders through interviews and focus groups and translated findings from the stakeholder consultation into actionable recommendations to facilitate the development of tailored tools and solutions in the upcoming GUIDE and EQUIP phases of the project. In this short highlight article, we will summarize some key findings related to the relationship between open science and research ethics (understood as ethics ad scientia) and open science and research integrity (understood as ethics in scientia).
In general, most of the consulted stakeholders view open science and research ethics and integrity as mutually reinforcing or at least largely compatible, even though challenges persist when it comes to operationalizing an “as open as possible, as closed as necessary” approach in an ethically sound and legally compliant manner. As regards the relationship between research ethics and open science, questions focus on how to ensure proper data protection in changing research environments, without jeopardizing the social value of research by inadvertently undermining beneficial re-uses of research data and failing to realize new opportunities for benefit sharing that more openness and greater transparency enable. More precisely, questions refer to the most appropriate legal basis for the processing of personal data and criteria for selecting adequate informed consent models capable to ethically govern the re-use (or limits thereto) of participant data.
While the overall degree of complementarity between open science and research ethics is high, it is even more pronounced between open science and research integrity. In many ways, both are different sides of the same coin. Consequently, challenges related to open science and research integrity are not primarily normative but rather related to capacity gaps and problematic incentives, even though normative principles could emphasize respect for data and, especially, respect for data of others more strongly than they currently do. A main challenge is the seemingly widespread fear of scooping among researchers, fueled by a publish or perish culture that tends to reward secrecy rather than openness. Especially researchers in the scientific periphery with limited access to elaborate research infrastructures are hesitant to open up their research already at early stages because they typically require more time than their colleagues in better situated countries to move from idea to implementation. Problems are exacerbated by a shortage of training programs and lack of funding for data management and curation.
None of these challenges seems insurmountable in principle, and open science and research ethics and integrity could become close allies in ensuring responsible research. ROSiE will support this mission by providing policy advice, guidelines and training materials that will be disseminated via a knowledge hub. To ensure all outputs are responsive to the needs and values of key actors, stakeholders strongly recommended to use co-creation methodologies in the next phases of the project.