September 30, 2016

Open Science in practice 4S EASST conference Barcelona, Sept 1st 2016

Open Science (OS) is currently regarded as the next ‘big thing’ in European science policy and elsewhere. It is defined as science that is transparent, accountable, and shareable, involving the participation of (all) relevant stakeholders in the scientific process. In practice, tensions are emerging in how OS is enacted by scientific communities, science policy organisations, funding bodies, the publishing industry, and science-related institutions, with diverse uptakes of commons, knowledge sharing, democratisation of technology, participatory design, hacking etc.

This conference stream invited STS scholars to explore OS from an STS perspective and to discuss what STS can bring into the broader discussion of OS, e.g. by studying institutionalizations of OS, appropriations of OS within prevailing traditional images of science, or how OS is co-shaped by negotiation processes promoted by different stakeholders. Presentations covered socio-technical dimensions of openness in sciences - including the social sciences and humanities - in general and Open Access, Open Research Data, Open Methods, Open Education, Open Evaluation, and Citizen Science in particular.

(Session reports by chairs)

Session 1 Initiatives of Open Science (Chair Eduard Aibar)

This first session was gathering papers analysing and discussing projects or initiatives of Open Science in different countries around the world. The session was opened by Henrique Parra who presented an Open Science project developed at Ubatuba (Sao Paolo, Brazil). The project adopts an action-research perspective and is aimed at carrying out practical experiments as prototypes by partnership with local stakeholders –mainly, affected communities in environmental issues. His analysis explored the issue of the co-production of knowledge between academia and local communities by means of innovative institutional arrangements.

Innovative institutionalities for Open Science in development: a case study in Brazil
Sarita Albagli, Felipe Schmidt Fonseca, Henrique Parra, Maria Lucia Maciel (presentation not available)

Célya Gruson-Daniel focussed her presentation on a recent debate concerning “openness” in science throughout a French online consultation about a new “Digital Republic” law. Her work was based on the analysis, through digital methods, of a hackathon who gathered researchers, data scientists, members of the government, etc. Cèlya provided a detailed account of the different visions and interpretations enacted by the main stakeholders in this controversy.

Mapping Open Access/Science controversies: the case of the French "digital law" consultation
Célya Gruson-Daniel

Marianne Noel dealt with the same topic – the controversy over the French Digital Republic law. Her approach was empirically based in participant observation in a professional association and its Open Access group gathering representatives of stakeholder organisations (public research organisations, funding body, ministries, publishing industry and national publishers' association). She mainly focussed on the tensions that emerged during the discussion process, and which eventually lead to the disruption of the group and the redefinition of its mission.

Tensions in creating discussion spaces in the French Open Access landscape: a necessary evil?
Marianne Noel

Armin Spoek analysed an open science and public engagement approach implemented in a GMO risk research project conducting animal and laboratory studies – an EC funded project called GRACE. The project involved stakeholders in two key steps of the research process, the planning and the interpretation of results and conclusion drawing. His analysis suggested that open science can facilitate public engagement also on controversial topics, though some limitations and challenges were also presented.

Implementing Open Science in GMO Risk Research - Experiences and Challenges
Armin Spoek

The last speaker, Shannon Dosemagen, presented the community science model used by Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (Public Lab ) purports that community-led scientific problem identification, exploration and investigation, allows for engagement in the entirety of the scientific process, ownership of and access to resultant data, and orientation towards community goals and actions. Shannon presented this project as a way of challenging the standard boundaries of citizen science and, in particular, the ways in which citizens have been expected to (not) participate in science. She focussed mainly on issues like expertise, ownership and the use of science for critical objectives.

Beyond Citizen Science: Community science, civic technology and their implications on environmental decision making
Shannon Dosemagen

Session 2 Open communication (Chair Marianne Noel)

Sally Wyatt opened the session with a question: how should STS react to the emergence of so-called “predatory publishers”?
Using various examples, she first proposed to define predatory journals as “journals that exploit an OA rhetoric to charge authors but do not provide editorial and other services provided by legitimate journals”.
Analysing the unattended controversies that emerged around this OA practice, she described the enormous epistemic variety of authors’ publishing in “predatory journals”, the problems raised and their implications. She concluded her talk with a call, asking for more research on one hand, and action (response of 4S/EASST, publishers and other stakeholders) on the other hand.

In his talk, Eduard Aibar and Maura Lerga explored the way science issues are depicted in the Spanish version of Wikipedia). Wikipedia is nowadays the 7th most visited site in the Internet and is usually praised as a paradigmatic example of “commons-based peer production”. He emphasized the enormous volume of scientific information that Wikipedia makes available to anyone with connection to the network (10% of the articles in the Spanish version means more than 100,000 items and a volume of about one million pages). Eduard first described a study on university faculty perceptions and practices about Wikipedia. As main findings, the results do not support an overwhelming sceptical attitude among faculty towards Wikipedia. Though most faculty show a positive view on the teaching usefulness of Wikipedia, few of them actually use it for teaching purposes. Then he referred to one of the issues that most social and media discussion has generated around the Wikipedia: quality and reliability of its content.  A focus was made on controversial articles. The study of the references showed that Wikipedia editors mostly use highly reliable sources. In particular they often rely on primary scientific literature, and references are the main sources of credibility. Using STS insights the editors’ work was characterized as a boundary work. As such this is the first systematic study of such content done so far in any language version of Wikipedia.

Rosen Bogdanov started his talk by exploring the exploring the modulations of the concept of openness. He claimed that OS is an umbrella term, which has not a precise definition and “includes almost any dispute about the future of knowledge creation and dissemination” (Fecher and Friesike, 2014)
Through the case of the OpenDrop Project (a digital microfluidics device), he discussed how openness is both constructed and practiced in normative and material terms, in the frame of a larger project (Biofilia) which is operated by an art school and anchored in biohacking framework of Digital Biology. He described collaborative efforts distributed at physical spaces [not just The Internet] with no single development team, and argued the OpenDrop project originated out of public experiment in open access, collaboration and transdisciplinarity, featuring as such a “community-based agenda of Open Science”.

Josep Perelló is a physicist and his research in Computational Social Sciences - a multidisciplinary field at the intersection of social, computational and complexity sciences - uses participatory strategies. His aim is this work serves as a guideline for groups willing to adopt and expand such in vivo practices. In his talk he presented 4 experiments he conducted with colleagues in urban context: mobility and social dilemma in a science festival, design in a school playground, climate action game. All have been documented in papers published in prestigious journals (Nature Communications, Royal Society Open Science, etc.). Josep argued that Pop-Up experiments (as they called and conceptualized them) open up the debate regarding the possibilities (and also the limitations) that the Citizen Science and Open Science frameworks can offer the study of social phenomena.

Using the example of cognitive sciences, Kristian Martiny and colleagues discussed two case studies where experiments with open media have driven new collaborations between science and documentary filmmaking. They argued that OA is a conservative approach: using text-format through journal publications, it privileges specializing methodologies, technologies, data, and theories. Kristian launched an appeal to “a second wave Open Science” movement which means “practicing open science with other media and data-formats than publications, emphasizing the ambition of opening up the media through which scientific knowledge is processed, validated and circulated”.
Building on two documentaries (Natural Disorder and Collaboration), he illustrated different advantages of using documentary films to face the challenge of collaboration, such as preserving audio-visual data in science, establishing a medium for interdisciplinary engagement, and revealing contextualized, tacit and dynamic knowledge exchange.

Quality (of the product) is the question which has come up in the discussions. Sally Wyatt said we actually do not capture the full size of the” predatory publishing” phenomenon. Kristian Martiny has stressed that it make sense to make videos in environments where patients can not read publications, which are very costly to produce (Josep Perello). Katja Mayer also raised the question of the historical role of research in STS: with the aim of doing “science of science”, researchers built evaluation infrastructures that are diverted from their initial goal. She proposed to create new forms of valuation even if metrics are always performative (Sally Wyatt). Rosen Bogdanov proposed focusing on practices (in art and biohacking), thus joining the call of Josep Perello (“forget the product”).

Session 3 Open Research Data (Chair Katja Mayer)

The third session was opened by Kyle Harp-Rushing, who presented an ethnographic study of the application of the Open Science Framework (OSF), a software based on the idea of an open notebook to increase openness, integrity, and reproducibility in scientific practice. By using the concept of  'care of the data' (Fortun 2013) the authors examine how ethical practice is enacted at the intersection of the software, communication and collaboration in a research group. Kyle ended his presentation with a provocative quote from an interview, asking if truly radical open science would mean that all data has to be recorded and stored automatically, without further human intervention and selection bias.

Theresa Velden then continued to focus on the ethical dimension of data sharing, namely that of reproducibility and reliability of research data. Based on a comparative, secondary analysis of case studies on the production of scientific knowledge and the role of replication her paper seeks to contribute to a better understanding of the dimensions of replication across different epistemic cultures and how they link to open data.
In her presentation she criticises the dominating but very narrow concept of replication and calls for a public sharing of research data that takes diversity in epistemic cultures into account.

Madeleine Murtagh shifted the topic to practices of data sharing in biosciences and in particular to the question of data sharing governance and the diversity of values attached to it. In times when new technology meets old forms of governance, contradictions emerge, illustrating the complex orientations of data generators, researchers and others to open science; in particular, protecting the participant, protecting the study, and protecting the researcher. Bioscience data can never be fully open if the expectations of privacy and confidentiality of research participants are to be maintained, but other forms of openness can be established, such as DataShield, a gateway offering secure privacy-protecting analysis in which individual data remains within the firewall of the data-generating study.

Epistemic and non-epistemic values driving data sharing in practice
Madeleine Murtagh, Paul Burton, Andrew Turner  (presentation not available)
With his ethnographic study of the collaboration of humanities scholars and computer science researchers Pierre-Nicolas Oberhauser observed practices of building and maintaining an e-infrastructure for digital data sharing in a digital humanities research project. The objective of this collaboration is the creation of a database of children’s drawings, and the development of an image processing tool based on machine learning technology for developmental psychology. Whereas researchers face the typical issues of interdisciplinary work (e.g. lack of common language and mutual respect of skills), Oberhauser discussed how openness is negotiated on diverse levels of collaboration. It is also a core matter of finding the right balance between simplification and stabilization (tool based dimension) and the uncertainty of future research questions directed to the database.

Beneath Freely Accessible Data in the Humanities. Collaboration between Humanities Scholars and Computer Science Researchers in a Digital Humanities Research Project
Pierre-Nicolas Oberhauser (presentation not available)

Altogether the session offered a variety of approaches towards STS relevant questions for open research data in practice. Besides the increasing attention to research data in general, it will be highly relevant to deal with the various expectations and imaginaries that science policy and research administration currently develop in regard to open data governance. From the quest of evidence based decision making to the realms of messy research data following different data pathways could offer rich and exciting STS topics related to scientific ethos, interdisciplinary collaboration, citizen science, infrastructure studies and so forth.

Session 4 The politics of Open Science (Chairs Natasha Mauthner, David Budtz Pedersen)

Katja Mayer opened up the session on The Politics of Open Science. Against the backdrop of widespread usage of the term ‘open science’ in academic and policy arenas, her presentation called for a close and critical examination of the concept and practice of open science, including its claimed transformative powers and potential. Her contribution sought to locate open science within a wider context, and argued for more diverse policy and practice approaches to open science.

Rosalind Attenborough further deconstructed the notion of open science, this time through a historical analysis. She contrasted a more traditional idea of scientific ‘openness’- sharing scientific knowledge through journal publications – with a more recent notion of ‘open science’ as open access publishing, open data, open peer review, citizen science, and online laboratory notebooks. Drawing on the experiences, accounts and practices of biological scientists she discussed how the ‘open science revolution’ is reshaping scientific identities and cultures.

Óscar D. Sánchez-Jiménez and Eduard Aibar explored the tensions between Open Innovation and Open Science. Specifically, they highlighted how pressures on scientists to collaborate with industry and commercialize their work can work against policy expectations to share research data and results. Drawing on an empirical study of academia-industry partnerships in the life sciences, their paper discussed the formal and informal barriers to open scientific knowledge sharing in these kinds of collaborative projects.

Drawing on four Argentinean open science initiatives, Valeria Arza and Juan Mariano Fressoli proposed a bi-dimensional analytical framework for characterizing openness in science. The first dimension includes aspects of the collaboration, while the second reflects access and accessibility of shared outputs. The framework, they suggest, can be used for assessing the challenges and opportunities of open science on a case-by-case basis.

Taken as a whole, this session was valuable for encouraging critical engagement with open science policies and practices; for fleshing out some of the complexities and contradictions in putting open science into practice; and for helping us think about how the open science agenda may be fundamentally reshaping the nature and culture of scientific practice.

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