Engaging the stakeholders of Open Science

Within the framework of the ROSiE project several interviews were conducted to report on the stakeholder engagement strategy of the ROSiE project. The report contextualises stakeholder engagement within the overall work of ROSiE, expounds the aims of stakeholder engagement, specifies the types of stakeholder engagement formats, and provides an overview of the stakeholders identified in the stakeholder mapping. A major aim of stakeholder engagement is to ensure the inclusion of a diversity of perspectives in the exploration phase of the project. The results of this broad multi-perspective analysis informed the development of the mapping and analysis methodology. Before targeting specific groups, it was important to take into account the categories of stakeholders from whom insights were particularly expected. The list of stakeholders included:

– Researchers

– RPOs (Research Performing Organizations)

Research Ethics Committees (RECs) and RI Offices (RIOs)

– RFOs and scientific journals (Research Funding Organizations)

Research managers, research policymakers and advisory bodies

Science educators and journalists

– Industry associations

– Citizen science associations

– Civil society organisations

The general public

It was also underlined that involving researchers from a broad range of countries in stakeholder engagement is important because most research infrastructures are funded, managed, and operated at the national or federal level, often embedded in national research strategies. Furthermore, it seems likely that research infrastructures vary not only between countries but also between scientific disciplines. Researchers embedded in research infrastructures that do not reward open science (OS) might be less inclined to engage with ROSiE than researchers embedded in research infrastructures that already incentivise OS. Research managers often serve as intermediaries (by being involved in grant applications and grant management, supporting researchers in meeting ethical and legal requirements, and assisting RECs and RIOs in their daily work) between the upper echelons of organisational governance in RPOs and researchers. Especially European Research Infrastructure (ERI) managers are well positioned to provide insights about the challenges of current OS practices and can help in assessing whether proposed guidance materials are practically useful.

Interviews with stakeholders described how they conceptualise OS and which ethical, legal and policy issues they consider relevant.

Based on the results from previous interviews, one can expect that most participants targeted for the mapping and analysis workshops will view OS favourably and share many or all the values underpinning OS, such as availability and transparency of the research outcomes. At the same time, they identify significant challenges created by opening of science. OS means open access to knowledge for everybody, although it should not necessarily mean access without any restrictions in case restrictions are justified and access mechanisms transparently described. Training is crucial to support the transition to OS. Data curation is costly. There are also concerns about intellectual property rights and patents. Another challenge mentioned comes from the arts and humanities, where many concepts of OS seem not to be easily transferable, according to some stakeholders: for example, reproducibility in primarily interpretive methodologies. It was also pointed out that OS also creates new and exacerbates existing research ethical challenges, especially in the realms of data protection, intellectual property rights and societal engagement with research. All these challenges call for finding the right balance between promoting trust in research through openness and transparency on the one hand and safeguard privacy rights as well as legitimate interests of innovators on the other hand. The ethics of privacy protection in research are inherently intertwined with the legislation (GDPR, intellectual property law and patent requirements).

The need to create proper infrastructures for data management was underlined; however, technical aspects of infrastructure development were not named as a major concern because existing infrastructural developments are perceived to be on the right track, and technological progress and investments in platforms such as the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) will further decrease technological barriers. According to the reports, training in responsible OS is desirable, and could be integrated in trainings in responsible research and good scientific practice, preferably hands-on and practice-oriented rather than theoretical and general trainings. Consequently, in the OS transition, research environment and data practices and management are closely related and cannot easily be analysed separately. Essentially all aspects of OS related to open data are inherently linked to data practices.

The move to OS also has created new challenges when it comes to publishing and disseminating research, albeit seemingly with some noticeable differences between different disciplines. This challenge might be particularly acute in disciplines where books are a major type of publication, and related to the problematic effects creative commons licences, such as CC-BY, can have: those can be republished in inadequate formats without the consent of authors or original publishers, as long as the text corpus remains unchanged. Data stewards on the institute or faculty level could be effective advisers because of their familiarity with disciplinary cultures and challenges. More generally, the reports cite various interviewees who alluded to the importance of offering guidance on the appropriate level within RPOs, which can be, depending on the case, research management, or operational actors at the institute or faculty level.

An important point of concern was raised, to the fact that efforts to promote responsible OS are somewhat hampered by the fact that the Research Ethics (RE)/Research integrity (RI) and the OS communities are currently separated. Creating and strengthening bonding between these communities could help to increase synergies between RE, RI and OS.

As this summary illustrates, the findings presented in other ROSiE works provide good preparatory ground for the mapping and analysis task. They allow to identify priority angles (which actors and which issues) and to converge on useful learnings of the needs and challenges for responsible OS practice. The methodology adopted therefore takes into account these previous results.

This passage is part of D6.2: Final analysis and mapping of existing European and national OS infrastructures with regard to promoting responsible OS written by Carole Chapin, Nathalie Voarino.