December 21, 2015

Skills for opening science (incl. social sciences and humanities)

From his keynote presentation at "Open Science Jetzt!" one particular quote by Daniel Mietchen is still sticking in my mind. He said that opening scientific practices means to learn how to have an eye on the other/s.

I think this is one of the most important skills or capacities we need to train from the beginning of higher education, if not earlier on. This is what Pierre Bourdieu and others called for by establishing a reflexive scientific practice. This is what feminist STS would label "strong objectivity" or recognition of "partial perspectives". Besides reflecting one's own habitus and standpoints, we should widen our attention to all sorts of potential perceptions and impacts of our research, in all phases of research.

Thus, how could this reflexive capacity be better trained if not through exercises in cooperation, maybe even in interdisciplinary collaboration? In order to establish a sensitivity towards one's own and other (epistemic) cultures, we need to learn how to open up without fear of exposure, we need to learn what can be opened and what not. Moreover - thinking of the scientific meritocracy - we need to set up a reward system for such practices and the gathering of such experiences.

More thoughts on this to come...


  1. Well, this is a wonderful suggestion, but what about the problem that most reviewers do not have interdisciplinary expertise. Thus, striving for interdisciplinarity might ruin your career....

  2. In principle, I would agree that such skills need to be trained in all phases of research, and ideally as early as possible. However, if graduate students as a particular group that can be considered 'researchers' in early stages, would write their seminar papers in an "open" manner, interactively and online, how would then lecturers judge their contribution to the results? Things get even more complicated with writing a thesis or other qualification works, where the evaluation system is built on a “logic” of an individual contribution, and the issue of authorship might become very delicate when deciding whether an individual has fulfilled requirements.

    1. I completely agree with your point. Many of the ways in which we would like academia to be shaped in future are fairly incompatible with regimes of qualification and reputation that academia institutionalized until so far. This, into my account, is one of the major problems with introduction of open cultures into academia. But instead of judging openness as being incompatible with academia we should as well reflect whether individual performance assessment is a valuable tool for the redistribution of fame in academia?