Attitudes, Challenges, and Inequalities in Research Practices
The questions on social aspects of Open Science that were answered during the research process were:
- What are the attitudes towards Open Science in the scientific communities?
- What social challenges are brought about by Open Science practices?
- What social challenges arise by involving new actors in the scientific process?
- What are the roles of different actors in the process of implementation of requirements of research ethics and research integrity in the context of Open Science?
- There are differences in attitudes towards Open Science between scientific disciplines which can be explained by differences in technical skills, traditions, data specificity (qualitative/quantitative/sensitive/personal, etc.), history of practicing Open Science in discipline, etc. Also, ethical issues in the case of human subject research may affect researchers’ willingness and ability to share data, e.g., medical, and social science researchers performing human subject research may be reluctant to share research data because of privacy issues. The existing traditions in each field of science can also promote or limit Open Science practice.
- Focus group participants emphasized that willingness to share the data may differ depending on the scientific discipline. If data files are not large, researchers have fewer problems preparing and sharing them in open access, but if data files are large and data preparation requires a lot of additional work, researchers are more reluctant, especially if there is no additional funding or they are not sure that someone will really use the data.
- In focus groups some researchers expressed different attitudes towards specific practices of Open Science, e.g., open data sharing, open access publications, and open peer review. Those practices which have been experienced as personally helpful in everyday scientific work and allowed to do research easier, faster, or cheaper were valued positively. Some other practices may be assessed more negatively, e.g., a researcher may express a positive attitude towards open data sharing and data reuse, but a negative opinion about open peer review.
- There are different types of inequalities among researchers and inside scientific communities, mirroring inequalities in society (e.g., related to ethnicity, age, and disability) and influencing opportunities and willingness to practice Open Science. These inequalities may take the form of limited opportunities to practice Open Science, unequal access to funding, or an unfair payment system which in turn creates excessive competition. An open question is why and how gender inequalities impact practicing of Open Science and vice versa and this aspect still needs further research.
- The participants of focus groups emphasized global inequalities in Open Science practice between economically more developed and low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Researchers from economically more developed countries reported much better access to Open Science infrastructures, funding, and Open Science training and support, e.g., an opportunity to get support from data stewards to prepare open data and metadata for sharing. Researchers from LMICs referred to a lack of infrastructure, funding, and training to promote Open Science practice.
- One way how cultural attitudes can be actively shaped and developed is by introducing Open Science policies, developing infrastructures, and training researchers. For example, information about existing Open Science infrastructures and practices is crucial for the successful implementation of Open Science. In some cases, the availability of infrastructure and additional costs to store data were recognized as a problem. Infrastructure needs long-term investments, otherwise, researchers do not see the reason to invest in preparing and sharing data.
- Some research studies show that researchers working for the industry may have less opportunities to practice Open Science, e.g., because of restrictions by industry sponsors who usually operate under a more closed model of data management.
- The problems regarding citizen science practice mentioned during focus group discussions were:
- Misrepresentation of certain groups and lack of diversity among citizen scientists that can impact the results
- Citizen science means a large amount of additional work for researchers that are responsible for citizen engagement.
- Not all costs that are related to citizen involvement can be refunded because it might not be allowed by existing funding rules.
- Citizens may be misused and exploited as unpaid workers.
- Ensuring the quality of data collected by citizen scientists.
This passage is part of D2.4: Report on Social and Legal Implications and Challenges Related to OS written by Heidi Beate Bentzen, Teodora Konach, Signe Mežinska.