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Open Science and Modular Publishing

April 20, 2023

Since the release of the Nelson Memo, “Ensuring Free, Immediate, and Equitable Access to Federally Funded Research” (OSTP, August 25, 2022), there has been a great deal of discussion about public access to scientific scholarship and data. But the concept of open science is not limited to just that which is publicly funded.

An Introduction to the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science states, “Open science is a set of principles and practices that aim to make scientific research from all fields accessible to everyone for the benefits of scientists and society as a whole.”

The UNESCO Recommendation, which is the major international standard has six guiding principles:

1. Transparency, scrutiny, critique and reproducibility—to reinforce the rigor of scientific results, enhance the positive impact of science on society and increase society’s ability to solve complex interconnected problems.

2. Equality of opportunities—to ensure that all scientists and those with an interest in science have equal opportunity to access, contribute to and benefit from science, regardless of origin or circumstance.

3. Responsibility, respect and accountability—to be responsible for and aware of public accountability, potential conflicts of interest, intellectual integrity and the possible social or ecological consequences of research activities.

4. Collaboration, participation and inclusion—to ensure that scientific collaborations transcend the boundaries of geography, language and resources, and include knowledge from marginalized communities to solve problems of great social importance.

5. Flexibility—to acknowledge that there is no one-size-fits-all way to practice open science and to encourage different pathways to practicing it while upholding the core values.

6. Sustainability—to be as efficient and impactful as possible by building on long-term practices, services, infrastructures and funding models to ensure participation of scientists from less-privileged countries or institutions.

There are many active initiatives designed to support open science. One is to reimagine the dissemination process using open access modular publishing. Launched in 2022, Octopus and ResearchEquals are two freely available platforms for publishing components of one’s research in an open online forum.

One of the problems with Gold Open Access publishing is that it transfers the cost of publication from the consumer to the researcher looking to get published in the form of article publishing charges. A fee paid by the author. The drawback to Green Open Access publishing is many OA repositories have an embargo period before a publication is made freely available.

In the case of ResearchEquals the author must pay if they want to have their work published using a more restrictive Creative Commons license. Octopus also employs Creative Commons licenses, but requires one which allows derivative works.

The publication types in Octopus are based on the eight stages of scientific research:

  • Research Problem
  • Rationale/Hypothesis
  • Method
  • Results
  • Analysis
  • Interpretation
  • Real World Application
  • Peer Review

For ResearchEquals there are many more publication types and they are called modules. Thus, enabling the publication of text, data, code and media. With both platforms, each publication is assigned its own DOI.

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