“This way of sharing science has some benefits: peer review, for example, helps to ensure (even if it never guarantees) scientific integrity and prevent inadvertent misuse of data or code. But the status quo also comes with clear costs: it creates barriers (in the form of publication paywalls), slows the pace of innovation, and limits the impact of research. Fast science is increasingly necessary, and with good reason. Technology has not only improved the speed at which science is carried out, but many of the problems scientists study, from climate change to COVID-19, demand urgency. Whether modeling the behavior of wildfires or developing a vaccine, the need for scientists to work together and share knowledge has never been greater. In this environment, the rapid dissemination of knowledge is critical; closed, siloed knowledge slows progress to a degree society cannot afford. Imagine the consequences today if, as in the 2003 SARS disease outbreak, the task of sequencing genomes still took months and tools for labs to share the results openly online didn’t exist. Today’s challenges require scientists to adapt and better recognize, facilitate, and reward collaboration….
This tension between individual and institutional incentives and the progress of science must be recognized and resolved in a manner that contributes to solving the great challenges of today and the future. To change the culture, researchers must do more than take a pledge; they must change the game—the structures, the policies, and the criteria for success. In a word, open science must be institutionalized….
A powerful open science story can be found in the World Climate Research Programme’s Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP), established in 1995. Before CMIP, with the internet in its infancy, climate model results were scattered around the world and difficult to access and use. CMIP inspired 40 modeling groups and about 1,000 researchers to collaborate on advancing modeling techniques and setting guidelines for how and where to share results openly. That simple step led to an unexpected transformation: as more people were able to access the data, the community expanded, and more groups contributed data to CMIP. More people asking questions and pointing out issues in their results helped drive improvements. In its assessment reports, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change relied on research publications using CMIP data to assess climate change. As a platform, CMIP enabled thousands of scientists to work together, self-correct their work, and create further ways to collaborate—a virtuous circle that attracted more scientists and more data, and increased the speed and usefulness of the work….
The most important message from these reports is that all parts of science, from individual researchers to universities and funding agencies, need to coordinate their efforts to ensure that early adopters aren’t jeopardizing their careers by joining the open science community. The whole enterprise has to change to truly realize the full benefits of open science. Creating this level of institutional adoption also requires updating policies, providing training, and recognizing and rewarding collaborative science….”