Open Science

"Open Science" means different things for different people, but in general it is a movement that tries to 'better' science by driving for a new approach of doing science -often stimulating transparency of the scientific process or involving multiple stakeholders from start to finish.

This change is unfortunately required as many researchers have or will experience that it is really hard to reproduce their own or other researchers their work.

 

In the early 2000's a number of papers were published showing limited success in reproducing previous published results and when mainstream media picked up on this the term 'reproduction crisis' was coined. Since then, meta-analatic efforts have assessed the reproducibility rate of science and  identified  major  factors  that  are  critical  for  repeating  and confirming scientific results falling broadly in 4 categories:

  • Study design; using insufficient samples or controls, wrong statistics, or selective reporting.

  • Technical; contamination of cell cultures, non-specific antibodies, etc.

  • The "Human Factor"; insufficiently detailed method reporting, poor sharing of reagents and technical expertise, publication bias.   

  • External factors; all factors that the individual scientist can't control such as the currently ineffective peer review system, paywalls, and lack of incentivizing responsible scientific behaviour.

If you want to know more about the Reproducibility crisis - you can listen to my interview  for the CharlestonHub podcast series.
 

 

Personally, I have always been passionately involved in the training of undergrad and grad students in NL and the UK. For example, I worked with the Life Sciences team to successfully implemented a "training and supervision agreement" (TSA) at the University of Utrecht and have been able to extend the use throughout Europe via ORPHEUS. The TSA allows PhD students to obtain additional skills besides pipetting in the lab to ultimately become 'better' scientists that are also adequately prepared for the job market after their PhD training.

 

As an individual scientist it is hard to drive changes in the "external factors", a lot of changes need to happen before young researchers are empowered to improve science (our preprint)

 

I have teamed up with the eLife ambassador program where we have been addressing the peer review process that is currently cracking at the seams. We need to address the small pool of trusted reviewers by training and including more junior researchers to improve the peer review process (our paper).
As this is not a common practice by current journals, young researchers can use our tried and tested approach (our second paper). 

To empower other researchers I have taken up the role as editor for ecrLife, which is a unique platform that specifically empowers young researchers and creates space for voices that are often pushed aside for more senior scientists or opinions and experiences that may not get highlighted on other platforms. Their inclusivity showcases the true diversity of young ( e.g. early career) researchers around the globe and is instrumental in driving real sustainable change.