New Initiative Incentivizes Open Research | The Scientist Magazine®

“A large coalition of colleges and universities aims to change hiring, promotion, and tenure practices to reward collaboration….

As Bahlai’s experience shows, scientists aren’t always rewarded for conducting research in accordance with open science principles. A new initiative plans to change that. The Higher Education Leadership Initiative for Open Scholarship, or HELIOS, which launched this March, is a coalition of more than 75 member colleges and universities that have committed to fostering open science practices, including through their hiring, promotion, and tenure decisions….

“The scientists bought into it,” Yamamoto says, adding that he doesn’t blame Lewin for coming up with an innovative marketing strategy. The journals wouldn’t have succeeded in shifting the culture if the scientific community hadn’t bought into the concepts of prestige and status, he says.


Yamamoto says this competition to publish work in prestigious journals led to an emphasis on individual contributions over collaboration in academia today. For example, tenure committees heavily weigh publication as a first or senior author, especially in prestigious journals—a process that can take several years, delaying when others have access to advances in scientific knowledge, he says. Yamamoto says it’s also common for committees to completely disregard papers where the tenure candidate is listed as a middle author.

Those individualistic values aren’t limited to universities and colleges. Grant agencies, for example, may decide to deny funding to a group of researchers if they get scooped by another team investigating a similar problem, Yamamoto says.


“So those kinds of values and practices then serve a very strong disincentive for an investigator to practice open science,” he says….

HELIOS wants to bend academia’s incentive structures toward cultivating collaboration. To accomplish this, like-minded institutions have gathered several times since 2021—beginning with a roundtable discussion convened by the National Academy of Sciences—to discuss priorities and strategies. The proceedings of a 2021 member workshop, “Developing a Toolkit for Open Science Practices,” includes language that institutions can use to show students and faculty their commitment to open science. The toolkit also includes templates for evaluating open science practices in job and tenure applications with example criteria including publishing in open-access journals, posting data using FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable) principles, and sharing other research outputs such as computer code….

Mangravite says she “one hundred percent” sees this divide between senior and junior faculty. But she says that rather than waiting for older faculty to retire, what’s needed is to incentivize younger faculty to participate in open science now instead of continuing to hold them to traditional standards set by more senior academics….”