Thinking about Open Science

Thinking about Open Science

The course presented to the participants a conceptual and practical journey to know, deepen, and rethink the new scientific paradigm called Open Science (OS). The classes and Open Coffee modules were designed as complementary instances where the encounter between the theoretical aspects and the concrete tools and initiatives was fostered. This methodology allowed bringing theoretical issues into daily practice and showing different examples of good OS practices.
The reasons why we need Open Science were clearly established: visibility and transparency. Scientific knowledge must flow freely, be available, findable, searchable, and usable. The research must be transparent in the processes, data, and results, but also in the evaluation to which it is subjected. In order to give meaning to these words, it is necessary to rethink the scientific system thoroughly, what scientists are expected to do, how they are evaluated, and what is rewarded. Transforming a competitive and closed system into a collaborative and open one implies a profound cultural change, which this course greatly contributes to.
The program presented a broad set of applications, infrastructures, and information systems among other initiatives that institutions have been promoting to trigger a change in scientific culture. These initiatives, oriented to different aspects of OS, both at European and international level, provide theoretical and conceptual support to open science and promote good research practices. For example, we learned about OpenAire, EOSC, Unesco declarations, FAIR principles, Horizont Europe policies, Sherpa Romeo and Juliet, among many others.
Ticket to OS gave me the opportunity to refresh and update my knowledge on topics that I have been working on, such as Open Access, while allowing me to delve into topics I was barely familiarized with, such as citizen science and Open Data.
Furthermore, the course allowed me to rethink my thesis in OS code, particularly on the topics related to open data and FAIR data. I wondered about the possibility of carrying out a Data Management Plan. The DMP should consider not only the data but also the procedures and instructions to be executed with the data. Ideally, in a OS level, having Open Data based on the FAIR principles would be the most suitable for any thesis. I would be delighted for my data to be findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable; FAIR would provide transparency, reproducibility, and reliability to the research. However, in my thesis I am going to work with data that comes from a subscription source: Web of Science. I wonder if the data can be shared and understand that it may not be possible. I will need to investigate further to see if there is a way that this data can be shared. I think this is an issue that needs to be addressed because those of us who work with bibliometric studies tend to use data source from commercial providers that hinder their sharing. As for how I intend to become an open scientist, I will start by working with open source systems such as R, publish the result of my research openly, deposit my work in the repository of my universities (UC3M and University of the Republic), use the permanent identifiers, and continue to look for ways to use data that can be shared.
My opinion about OS is that it is a new scientific paradigm, because it undermines the very structure on which the scientific system is built: competition for access to information and data, blind peer review, large oligopolies editorials, the scientific evaluation system according to the number of peers and their impact, among other aspects. In contrast, OS proposes a collaborative, transparent science, available to everyone, including the non-academic community. A science for the citizen, which addresses complex problems that arise from societies with an interdisciplinary approach; a science where the results are within reach with no other obstacle than access to a device with internet where the data is also shared. Open Science proposes open review systems. It also proposes an evaluation in which scientific quality is not only measured from the impact factor but with alternative metrics, where open publication, open data, and the transparency of research are well valued for the promotion of individuals, groups, and institutions. Otherwise, it would be inconsistent to promote certain changes and continue to reward outdated practices.

Open Science feelings. I’m in.

When I started this course about Open Science, even after seeing the agenda, I remember thinking “well, for my professional development, all this content sounds familiar to me, I have read about this at some point …. ” I knew the difference between Open Science and Open Access to publications, I could talk about Plan S, I knew the FAIR principles, the importance of data management plans, I had even participated in an exporadic way in some citizen science project related to health, terms like metadata, repositories, green/gold open access, interoperability or reuse, are present in my vocabulary almost weekly, but always to support other researchers. 

However, although I was aware of the strengths and weaknesses of these subjects, I did not dimension how complex this universe is.

Once I finished the course, I felt like I had the puzzle pieces and they fit, making the whole picture start to be visible to me. I have realised how important Open Science is in the whole research process. 

Open Science is changing the way people understand the research process. It’s not limited to  Open Access, to publications or data, it includes open peer review, citizen science and others. Open Science is a new paradigm to generating and sharing knowledge, and beyond that, to support an equity society with no one left behind even in those low resourced environments. 

Another relevant aspect I found is the importance of the Research Data Management Plan. As a researcher I will prepare a Data Management Plan to establish what kind of data I am going to collect or generate and analyse, if I’ll need to get some special permissions to reuse them, where I am  going to save and preserve those datas, or how open they are thought to be.

Establishing a strategy  of our research considering Open Science should be one of the priorities in our research process in order to build an open network that reinforces collaborations, open knowledge transfer, open innovation and implementation of our research. This strategy will also improve the visibility and dissemination of the research.

Science should be easily accessible, and published in a fast way in order to prevent  duplicate projects and get better results by exposing research achievements although it sometimes implies a mentality or cultural change to be retracted or criticised, making visible mistakes, not enough (or gaps) evidence to get conclusions or  things like that.  Anyway, all of this generates knowledge.

Some tools and apps have been used for me during last years as mendeley, zotero, zenodo, open metrics tools, social media tools, creative commons licences, sherpa romeo, although I have discovered new tools and apps as RIO, Authorea, Lens, Core, or Pubpeer, as well as amazing initiatives as open science MOOC, Research Data Alliance or EOSC that I am sure they can help me along my researcher life.

Nevertheless, we also found weakness in this movement. Despite the huge effort from European Commision and some governments, there are still difficulties with many policy makers, governments or institution managers who don’t support this new paradigm and hold to the old structure.

Publishers play a critical role in this Open Science Movement. On one hand, most of them are adapting their policies to publishing, providing Open Access options with the same quality standards, including Open Peer Review, and asking for open data to validate research. Here, one of the problems is the expensive price of some APC for instance. Other issues we have to deal with are predatory journals which found an extraordinary way to earn money publishing low quality articles or cheating authors with unreal Impact Factors.

Policy makers also play an essential role in funding, developing rules and strategies and providing needed structures to incorporate Open Science to every single statement of our society from citizens to institutions, etc.

And last but not least, institutions who support and assess research should implement a complete change in the rewarding system. 

As PhD student I think that actions like to design a strategy for publication and dissemination,  to use social media, to use and update unique and persistent identifiers (ORCID, research ID..) to use open licencies, to share my research outcomes in an open way (publishing preprints, making my data FAIR, using open repositories….), or add some tools or apps studied along these Open Science Sessions, are essentials to become an Open Scientist.

As an Information Specialist I am sure all the knowledge I got will be absolutely useful in my daily routine supporting my colleagues. 

Science benefits everyone!

Here in this post, I am going to tell you about the Open Science (OS) course which I have passed recently and to describe my opinion:

This course was undoubtedly a ticket for me to get to the plane of Open Science! It helped me to develop my new paradigm of research and innovation as a Ph.D. student. I learned that OS is not only about making our publications available and reusable via open access but also making our research data open by following these principles: findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable. During this course, I learned the basics of open science, concepts, policies, boundaries, and requirements.

Open science, in general, aims to facilitate access to scientific content and encourage its reuse. It helps us share our work with other researchers in our field to build something bigger and better. Moreover, it can be constructive to access reliable and credible data, and while many published scientific findings might not be reliable.

In my opinion, one of the main reasons that the widespread adoption of open practices has not yet been achieved is that researchers are uncertain about how sharing their work will affect their careers. But, during this course, I comprehended that researchers could use open practices to their advantage to gain more citations, media attention, potential collaborators, job opportunities, and funding opportunities so that they can update their research cycle.

One of the most valuable parts of this course was being introduced to and getting familiar with the infrastructures, tools, and platforms to work in an open environment, i.e., the wide range of tools and platforms that are available and developing in order to help researchers in different stages of their scientific life such as research, analysis, writing, publications, outreach, and assessment. Among all, access to the very local environment, which is now available in many different scientific societies and universities, is of the most interest. For example, the university has recently started to help students and faculty to practice open science by developing a service called Unios.


As a Ph.D. student and researcher in the field of Machine learning in Fluid Dynamics, I normally deal with very new approaches, and methodologies, which are developed or being upgraded by a very limited yet outspread scientific society, and their rate of progress is relatively high. So, the size of the community, together with the rate of model development in this field, has led this society to move towards Open science to some extent. For example, most of the recent works has been published as preprints on open access platforms, and more importantly, the codes and datasets which are the heart of the research, are partially available on GitHub. But despite this, I had not questioned myself whether the way I am doing research was also aligned with those principles or not until I participated in this course at UC3M. And throughout the course, I understood why this way helps my research community and I am now clear about the way I want to do research using Open Science and to change the future practice of my research.

Moreover, before this course, I could not describe why it is good or beneficial to be an open scientist, and I was unaware of some of the traditional practices that are considered as “not open.” but now I can fully identify and appreciate what and how they do science and I plan to follow these principles during my PhD and throughout my career. Thanks to the informative presentations and support of the brilliant organizing team of this course, the way to become an open scientist is now more transparent and more achievable for me. If I want to anticipate my plans to become an “Open Scientist” during my Ph.D., some of the steps can be: Storing my data using a perennial system or format in compliance with my team or university policy, submitting my publications to open access journals, deposit my publications in an open archive, taking part in discussions within my disciplinary community about pre-publications deposited in the open archive,  sharing research data and source code that I developed, following the evolutions of open science and get involved. Accordingly, I will be the ambassador of Open Science in my research group and department.

Open science (OS) and rewarding system (motivators of will)

Ever since I worked as the director of the Sciences library in the University of Buenos Aires (Argentina), I’ve been interested in the practice of OS, due to the fact that open access was a very relevant concept at the time.
Firstly, it is important to define the concept of OS. I find the definition given by Draft UNESCO to be very accurate, OS is described “as an inclusive construct that combines various movements and practices aiming to make scientific knowledge openly available, accessible and reusable for everyone, to increase scientific collaborations and sharing of information for the benefits of science and society, and to open the processes of scientific knowledge creation, evaluation and communication to societal actors beyond the traditional scientific community.” (When highlighting the practices of OS, the concept of FOSTER project comes up) Highlighting the practices of OS, like the definition of FOSTER project, “OS as the practice of science in such a way that others can collaborate and contribute”.
Based on this idea, I personally believe Open Science is the “paradigm” that should have an impact and guide the behaviour of researchers nowadays. We should focus on imposing this model on the researchers’ attitude, to consequently direct the outputs of researchers in the public sector and institutions where their main objective is to produce knowledge.
Therefore, if we are able to shift from closed science to OS, we would need to work towards fixing the main flaw within this practice. For a better understanding of this “flaw” we should focus on the highlighted roots in the OS mushroom graphics by Eva Mendez. In my opinion and as reinforced by (as shown in the drawing below) the fundamental concept that needs to be worked on is how the evaluation system functions related to the rewarding system, taking into account the characteristics of OS throughout the process. By working on this we will be able to shift towards a total OS model in the academic world.

Open Science

On this blog I will  particularly discuss reward systems like motivators of will. When discussing this aspect of OS, it is necessary to consider: the various existing obstacles, as well as the different kinds of incentives, and the revision of institutional policies. To deal with the aspects I previously mentioned, we should work on this process by creating different stages. More specifically in the case of Universities I would consider the following plan of action relevant:

  • The institution can review their internal policies regarding students and teachers’  grants, provision of additional funding, etc. In summary, analyzing all the institutional policies to find the interstices/breaches in the OS principles.
  • Recognize the most important needs of the research community to release knowledge (with surveys), and organize training accordingly with the library. 
  • Offer the course regularly for doctoral students, as well as divide the course into independent components according to the needs of students / teachers and researchers. 
  • Build a MOOC with an evaluation that is separated into independent modules: data management plan, access practices and open data, data repositories, metadata, etc.
  • Evaluate the compliance with OS of teachers, researchers, PhD and postdoc students, according to the following list:
  • Generate an entity to control OS compliance with those policies to boost the OS system.

I particularly enjoyed the session by Sabina Leoneli and her practical approach about Plan S. Sabina understands this concept as an intermediate and necessary step towards a more advanced and new model of an open publishing system. She shows us that we need work together in this sense, to achieve the results we are looking for. Nevertheless, the evaluation system of the science nowadays, is based on the traditional publishing system, meaning that Plan S is a gateaway to “free” articles within developing countries. We should consider the Plan S as a possibility inside the actual publishing system, however, it is an expensive option.

I believe that the course was excellent and extremely helpful. It updated my knowledge and understanding of OS, as much as it allowed me to learn how to manage many tools that directly boost my abilities on how to manage OS as a PHD student. The different perspectives and topics discussed by the keynote speakers from the Science Cafe, such as OpenAire, Plan S, Citizen Science allowed me to achieve a more global vision on the topic. 

Open Science: a new approach for research

Open Science is a paradigm that allows broadening the horizon about the scientific process, which ensures cooperative work through new forms of dissemination and expansion of knowledge through different tools and digital technologies. However, in order to adopt this Open Science approach in a “complete” way, it is necessary to adapt the current “scientific thinking” to all these new tools and methods that emerged with this approach. Open Science gives us the opportunity to work in a different way than we have done so far. Also, Open Science allows us to adapt to the digital age in which we find ourselves providing the necessary means to share knowledge with the rest of the scientific community.

Open Science promotes different practices such as Open Access, that is, the online publication of the output for peer review and with low copyrights restrictions; Open Data, which consists of the publication, free use, and redistribution of data obtained in the framework of research; and Open Source, which refers to the co-creation of software without ownership restrictions. The foregoing makes Open Science a perfect model for the sharing of knowledge in the scientific community that should undoubtedly be addressed and adapted in the different public organisms that finance research since it would allow the knowledge network to be public expanded. This approach can be easily justifiable, for example, in an educational environment where teachers or schools could use this knowledge, from which they are marginalized in their process and do not have free access to the result. However, we must be aware that adopting this paradigm implies a cultural change since the production of knowledge usually has incentives that close access, such as publishing in certain journals that are not publicly accessible.

As a student of a career in technology, the Open Science approach results in a very relevant and crucial point for my professional development and growth as a researcher. The course imparted at UC3M has helped to broaden my knowledge in this new field, which has led me to re-analyze the type of research I am conducting, and the type of researcher I want to be, and the type of research that I want to perform. This course has expanded my knowledge of the different methods and tools at my disposal, which help me significantly in the field in which I am developing. In the same way, it gives me a new point of view of what are the ethical limits within this new approach and to what extent knowledge can be shared, and how to share it without crossing the limits.

Open Science, Open Excellence

Open Science: a very broad topic that some fear while others love.

It took me 2 years of PhD program to understand why the research industry is flawed. I am not willing to perform a socioeconomic approach, but, as far as I understand, the monetization of knowledge even though has been useful in terms of copyright when generating value to companies/countries, I think that it must be redirected and somehow democratized if we, as a society, want to improve. In general, by game theory we can state that humans GROW if they SHARE, and in this case the sharing must be performed in terms of knowledge and resources.

My expectations of the course were very high. Before then, I barely knew about the concept. My humble approach was: “Open Science is the legal implementation of Sci-hub”. Nothing could be more untrue, Open Science is MUCH more, not only “the Robin Hood of knowledge”. In this course, I learnt about the specifications of Open Science and how the world is implementing all the official infrastructure, all the paths a researcher can take to become an Open Scientist. Open Science is a new paradigm (as the first session of the course was called), with new methods and different points of view when contributing with others. Quality vs. Quantity. The advertisement in social media in a competitive-productive way. In essence, meritocracy in strict sense.

One of my favorite sessions was the 5th one, Citizen Science and Public Engagement, because it woke up my childish spirit. When I was a child, I loved to experiment with machinery, watch animals, understand curious physical phenomena. I loved to try how different inputs resulted into different outputs, to understand the mechanism of things in simple day-to-day situations. This passion did not die but became a bit numb.

If citizen science become a thing, society will improve for sure, not only in terms of proficiency but also psychologically. Most kids do not like science because it is explained in third-person, it is boring and the reward is invested in the long-term future under the premise “you will get a good job and be financially independent”. On the other hand, most adults do not feel fulfilled because they could not pursue their dream, but, what if they could not pursue their dream because they did not know what the dream was about? Most people do not know what is their talent, what if one of the best potential-ornithologist is someone who liked birds but ended up working in something else because he/she could not learn about the migration of swallows? What if the private publishing was one of the reasons of not being able to develop a passion?

If citizen science is a project that can be materialized, I am sure the world will be happier, people will be able to study or do hobbies without restriction. And without restriction, endless contributions may appear.

In connection with that, I believe that citizen science performed a qualitative leap, specially during last year, since Covid pandemic struck. Then, a lot of Open Science was performed, I do not know if it was under this “specific” name, but at least it was conceptually performed. Knowledge was way more shared, researchers were taken more seriously, new free of charge research-kind applications were created, etc. And with reference to this last example, I would like to connect the ending of my blog with the question: How are your plans to become an “Open Scientists” during your PhD and beyond?

(Banner: I do not perform any kind of monetary-reward advertisement, I just think that the following application is an example of Open Science that must be shared and used in the research field)

A few months ago, a friend of mine asked me: “Hey! are you more an Obsidian or a Roam Research person?” For those who do not know them, they are applications that connect concepts, notes and knowledge, and gather them in a very useful way creating the so-called “Vault of Wisdom” (others call it “Second Brain”). The difference between them is that Obsidian is free-of-charge and it has the capability to publish the notes online. It was created during the lockdown (approximately) when a group of programmers wanted an Open Source knowledge manager app.

Then, my plans to become an Open Scientist begin with this application (Obsidian), in which I plan to publish everything I know, particularly everything involved in my PhD discoveries, including all the Open Science Café information that I obtained from this course.

However, even though this approach is extracurricular and non-oficial, academically I would like to participate in the Open Science world, for example, by publishing in the IEEE Access journal, which is an Open Access Journal of the IEEE society.

Also, I would like to incorporate in my day-to-day research life several applications like Github for uploading the code, Overleaf for writing purposes, as well as being more participative in several communities like Twitter or Stack Overflow, among others. In any case, I will save as a cheat sheet, one of my favorite slides of the course (from the first session):

Thanks to this summary of platforms, I will be able to integrate one application at a time so I will GROW by SHARING my knowledge at each stage of the research.

In the end, I think that the course was very useful, I liked the structure of each session and I would recommend it to anyone, even though those who are not researchers. Also, I would like to thank the speakers of the course and the Open Science Café sessions who where very helpful by providing their knowledge and resources, which have been very interesting.

Open Science: an antidote against the lake of transparency

Andrea Langbecker

The open science movement is based on a new paradigm. It is a new way in which researchers produce and disseminate science. This is not just a slogan that wants to sell an idea. It is a serious and committed concept. It’s praxis.

This practice encompasses a variety of aspects, ranging from changing the conception about our behavior related to the production of our research, up to the choices we make regarding its publication. Additionally, it may discuss how do we engage in networks that develop research within this perspective, or how to participate in groups that struggle to find ways to expand access to scientific production. All these activities should consider a context that is still highly unequal and limited.

We know that there are still many challenges for this movement to take roots more effectively; and to be able to implement a new culture in the manner of producing science. Science is not something unique. There are differences between areas of knowledge, differences between countries, continents, which influence the possibilities of greater applicability – or resistance – to this modality.

This topic is extremely current and relevant for all researchers who seek another way of doing science that is more in tune and committed to the demands of the society. Our society, in addition to seeking answers to its needs, seeks more transparency in the way in which science is produced. Open Science can be an antidote against data manipulation, research that hides personal or corporate interests, and so many other harmful aspects that end up tarnishing the fundamental importance of science for the development of society.

A dire example happened in 1998 when a scientist suggested a possible relationship between the MMR vaccine (Measles, mumps, and rubella) and autism even without having a study to prove it. This statement had great repercussions in the British media, followed by a drop in vaccination rates in the United Kingdom (Boyce, 2006). Even though his suggestion was questioned by his peers, it has contributed, over the years, to promote the ideas of the anti-vaccine movement who try to link vaccines with the emergence of diseases and discredit their effectiveness. Opponents have always existed, but they have gained new breath with social media and the great possibility of circulating fake news, understood as: “Articles based on false information packaged to look like real news, to deceive readers, either for financial or ideological gain” (Tandoc, Jenkins, & Craft, 2019, p.674). The current health crisis presents conspiracy ideas against vaccines spreading by the social media, questioning their effectiveness and safety, inducing doubts in science and scientific institutions.  This kind of argument reinforces the importance of a paradigm change. As a researcher in the area of health communication, this topic arose a special interest in me.

In this sense, Open Science can find a fruitful field for its development among Ph.D. students, who could internalize the other view in their research study. Maybe we may not put all of its precepts into practice at this moment, but they will be a guide to follow in our path as researchers; which could also be a guide for our journey.

As a doctoral student in Media research, I believe that the Open Science course at UC3M has offered us relevant knowledge through experts on this subject, professionals who kindly shared their knowledge, concerns, and passions regarding the topic, both in a theoretical and practical sense. The course also allowed us the access to a range of resources, such as platforms, websites, materials and videos, leading us to learn more in regard to this issue. Among the materials available, I highlight “Passport for Open Science”, as it is a guide that summarizes the main components of this modality, in an introductory and accessible way. It can be very useful for all those who wish to become more familiar with the subject. Access at:

We hope that the Open Science movement wins over more and more hearts and minds.


Boyce, T. (2006). Journalism and expertise. Journalism Studies, 7(6), 889–906.

Tandoc Jr, E.C., Jenkins, J., & Craft, S.  (2019). Fake News as a Critical Incident in Journalism. Journalism Practice, 13(6), 673–689.

Open science is a method to distribute knowledge.

First of all, I have to draw your attention to that I have gained an L.L.M degree in private law from Damascus University/ Syria. Besides, the academic environment in the Middle East has depended on a closed science environment, which focuses on publishing papers, few abilities to reach research outcomes, and restrictions to participate from stakeholders. But, after I have joined as a Ph.D. candidate at UC3M and attended many open science courses such as this course, my horizons have been increased in open science scope, which considers as a portal for scientific and research cooperation from the side, and a method for making scientific knowledge available for all stakeholders in a transparent and integrated form in various types of knowledge.

The current course has increased from my knowledge in followed approaches and methods to make researches more open, whether through adding alternative evaluation, sharing posters & presentations, communicating through social media, commenting openly, or using shared reference libraries. Furthermore, I have gained qualifications to make my research subject to FAIR data ( Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable), which strongly encourages the open science idea. Finally, I have gained good knowledge in deposit my researches in electronic platforms, whether e-Archivo, InvestigaM, or e-Ciencia, which have been created to encourage open science idea purposes.

Accordingly, I notice that open science is a cross-continental and cross-border means for distributing knowledge and provide it for all stakeholders. Also, it is a direct result of the globalization idea which aims to raise the human society to a high level of knowledge and make the world such as a little village. But, I see that ideal information that has been submitted through the course should be extended from the regional scope to the international scope, where knowledge doors must be opened for all. Thus, we can consider this an obligation on developed countries to invite emerging countries to the open science and practically support them.

In the end, and through the great opportunity that I had in attending the course, I will try to transfer those ideas to a regional area that I belong to and attempt to contribute to platforms that sponsor open science.

Best Regards

Ahmad Atallah

Doing open science in anthropology – what challenges?

Open science aims to bring academic knowledge into the hands of society through a more accessible research process. But what are the challenges of applying this new paradigm to disciplines such as anthropology? Here are some reflections on this debate, which somehow relate to collaborative digital archives, coastal communities’ adaptation to climate change and sexy storytelling.

In 2019, a team of Greek school students discovered a new exoplanet. Building on data made available by a NASA space mission, the teenagers detected a planet in orbit around a distant star from the Kepler space telescope. The students’ astronomical discovery highlighted the benefits of open science, a movement ‘aiming to make multilingual scientific knowledge openly available, accessible and reusable for everyone’ (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization 2021). Although the new paradigm of open science has become prevalent in the basic and applied sciences, its relevance for the social sciences is controversial. Here, I reflect on three challenges that open science poses to a particular discipline in the social sciences: anthropology.

Open anthropological data – the challenge of confidentiality

‘As open as possible, as close as necessary.’ The motto of open science applies to each stage of the research process, from data collection to methodology to sharing of findings. Let us begin with data accessibility, allowing any member of the academic community to repeat an experiment and test its initial results, or build upon the observations collected by others for an original piece of research.

Anthropology has long been concerned with discussions related to collections in natural history museums and ethnographic exhibitions, which sometimes led to the restitution of objects ‘gathered’ during ethnological missions (Corsín Jiménez 2018; Heintz 2021). Ethnographic data have extended from fieldnotes and museum pieces to include e-mails, text messages and posts on social media (Murphy, Jerolmack, and Smith 2021). Even though the current digital age makes it easier to share data with the actors that co-produced it, an ethical dilemma arises: to what extent can such information be made public?

A solution is to maintain confidentiality through the anonymisation of interview transcripts or the release of carefully chosen data (Murphy, Jerolmack, and Smith 2021). Some anthropologists prefer to limit data sharing to the level of the community involved in the project (Heintz 2021). A number of collaborative digital archives have also been created by anthropologists as a way of responding to ethical demands (Corsín Jiménez 2018). Among them, ‘Digital Himalaya’ preserves ethnographic materials from the Himalayan region and makes them available to the descendants of the people from whom such resources were collected. In the same vein, ‘Mukurtu’ enables indigenous communities to share their cultural heritage using a set of ‘traditional knowledge labels’ that reflect their own protocols for circulating data.

In any case, sharing anthropological data implies a particular responsibility on the part of the researcher to agree on a data governance plan with the participants in the project, who co-produced the materials. If data is archived in an open repository, the selected platform should comply with the needs of the specific project, such as the possibility to renegotiate the status of the ethnographic resources.

Citizen anthropology – the challenge of participation

At the end of each summer, the monarch butterfly leaves eastern North America and flies south. Its final destination has long remained unknown, until the citizen science initiative ‘Monarch Watch’ began to track its journey. In 26 years, volunteers have tagged more than 1.5 million butterflies, documenting their flow of migration from Canada to Mexico.

Monarch Watch is just one example among the many citizen science programmes in the life sciences, ranging from fauna and flora observation to public health. Eighty per cent of citizen science initiatives are confined to the natural sciences, although interdisciplinary projects are increasingly borrowing from the social sciences as a way of addressing laypeople’s diverse voices and the richness of local knowledge (Tauginienė et al. 2020). ‘Rethinking home’ is one of the few citizen anthropology initiatives I came across while browsing the internet. Led by Jennifer Newell, the programme connected coastal communities affected by climate change in New York and Samoa through a series of workshops focusing on the residents’ relationship to their home. Conditions for cultural exchange were created between both groups: New Yorkers benefited from Samoans’ experience of helping each other as neighbours, while Samoans built on New Yorkers’ alternative construction methods (D’Costa 2014).

Citizen anthropology can innovatively complement ethnographic research, but why are there so few such initiatives? Even though citizen science is deeply rooted in the history of the natural sciences, with farmers and agricultural organisations collecting phenological data for centuries, the emergence of the social sciences was marked by elite-centred debates that left little room for public participation. At present, researchers in the social sciences may experience practical challenges in engaging in citizen science, related to the difficulty of mobilising groups engaged in the social (instead of natural) lay sciences, the management of data based on human observation (rather than collected through technical devices) and ethical imperatives (Heiss and Matthes 2017).

But maybe the question is rather: do anthropologists have to engage in citizen science? An alternative to citizen anthropology is participatory research, which has been developed as ‘an ethical approach to ethnography’ (The Intag project 2015). By actively working with a community, the participatory researcher gains intellectual insights but also delivers findings that empower local people. ‘To study anthropology is to study with people, not to make studies of them’, reminds Tim Ingold (2017). In other words, participatory research generally results from a negotiation between the ethnographer’s interests and those of the community (Vargas-Cetina 2020). Citizen anthropology looks promising, as long as it is associated with such attempts to make ethnographic research more participatory and empowering for local people.

Open access in anthropology – the challenge of diffusion

Take a 150-page book and a post on social media. Which of them will you most likely go through in full? Anthropologists are known for their taste for monographs, but busy readers may stick to the second option.

Speaking of academic publications, the format is particularly important as it determines the audience for the findings presented. Open science addresses the issue of dissemination from the perspective of access to research papers. The open painter’s palette ranges from black (documents accessible through illegal digital platforms) to diamond (publications available unconditionally through funding from academic institutions). Intermediary publishing shades include green (in a subscription-based journal with immediate or delayed open access), bronze (on a publisher page with immediate open access but no clear license) and gold (in an open-access journal with immediate open access) (OpenAIRE n.d.).

As varied as the nuances of open access are, they have their limits for anthropological knowledge production. At the time when anthropology gradually became ‘a global science’ (Heintz 2021), the beloved monograph was replaced by a squeezed and rigid format: the English research paper. Unfortunately, open access does not help decipher the corresponding esoteric language, which mainly speaks to a specialised public. Neither does it prevent some well-known academic publishing giants from pursuing their juicy business, nor does it give a chance to the readership to be a partner rather than a mere recipient (Dallemagne et al. 2015).

But there is still some room for creativity at the border between academia and the lay world. ‘Allegra Lab’, a collective of anthropologists and other academics, provides such a space for intellectual innovation on the margins of mainstream research publication. Besides book reviews and essays, the website experiments with a virtual museum of ‘weird stuff’ and fieldwork playlists. Allegra Lab’s co-founders Julie Billaud and Miia Halme-Tuomisaari believe that anthropology ‘is actually “sexy” and relevant to people outside the scholarly world’ (Golub 2014). Does this mean that we had better close the cap on the black, green, bronze, gold and diamond paint tubes? Let us rather use the colourful tools of open access and combine them with less conventional formats such as the blog post and the tweet, to attract readers within and beyond academia.

So where do we go from here? Beyond the discussion on the benefits and challenges of open science, there is a need to reflect on how we as anthropologists, social scientists and academics in general produce knowledge. Open data, citizen science and open access are powerful tools that we can creatively combine with collaborative data archiving, participatory modes of research and popular science practices. Maybe open science is no magic wand, but rather an invitation to revise our formulas for knowledge production within and with society.


Corsín Jiménez, Alberto. 2018. ‘A Data Governance Framework for Ethnography v. 1.0’.

Dallemagne, Grégory, Víctor del Arco, Ainhoa Montoya, and Marta Pérez. 2015. ‘The Value of Open Access in Anthropology and Beyond’. Anthropology in Action 22 (2).

D’Costa, Krystal. 2014. ‘“Rethinking Home” with Citizen Anthropologists’. Scientific American (blog). 15 July 2014.

Golub, Alex. 2014. ‘An Interview with Allegra’. Savage Minds (blog). 9 January 2014.

Heintz, Monica. 2021. ‘The Moral Economy of Anthropological Scholarship’. In Explorations in Economic Anthropology: Key Issues and Critical Reflections, edited by Deema Kaneff and Kirsten W. Endres, 145–56. New York: Berghahn Books.

Heiss, Raffael, and Jörg Matthes. 2017. ‘Citizen Science in the Social Sciences: A Call for More Evidence’. GAIA 26 (1): 22–26.

Ingold, Tim. 2017. ‘Anthropology Contra Ethnography’. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 7 (1): 21–26.

Murphy, Alexandra K., Colin Jerolmack, and DeAnna Smith. 2021. ‘Ethnography, Data Transparency, and the Information Age’. Annual Review of Sociology 47 (1): 11.1-11.21.

OpenAIRE. n.d. ‘Open Access Mandate and Open Research Data in Horizon 2020: How Can OpenAIRE Help?’ Accessed 1 July 2021.

Tauginienė, Loreta, Eglė Butkevičienė, Katrin Vohland, Barbara Heinisch, Maria Daskolia, Monika Suškevičs, Manuel Portela, Bálint Balázs, and Baiba Prūse. 2020. ‘Citizen Science in the Social Sciences and Humanities: The Power of Interdisciplinarity’. Palgrave Communications 6 (1): 1–11.

The Intag project. 2015. ‘Participatory Research: An Ethical Approach to Ethnography’. Cornell University (blog). 18 October 2015.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. 2021. ‘Draft Recommendation on Open Science on Its Way to Final Adoption’. 14 May 2021.

Vargas-Cetina, Gabriela. 2020. ‘Do Locals Need Our Help? On Participatory Research in Anthropology’. Annals of Anthropological Practice 44 (2): 202–7.

Image by docentjoyce (CC BY 2.0)

UC3M Ticket to Open Science

My first experience with Open Science (OS) was through the research I did for my TFM where I analyzed the publication status of COVID-19 research data. It was a very enriching experience because I was able to learn about the different concepts that OS has today, the typology and identify how researchers are managing and publishing their data. In addition, the behavior of publishers and funding agencies as agents involved in this process.

I started the course with high expectations because of the topics and the speakers invited to the OS Cafés. After six weeks I can say that my expectations were satisfactorily exceeded because the contents have helped me to strengthen and increase the previous knowledge I had and learn new tools that will help me on my way as a researcher. The theoretical part was reinforced with the testimonies of the guests, who shared their experiences and real progress at different levels and areas where they are working towards the implementation and development of the OS.  In addition, I would like to emphasize the methodology in teaching the topics because they were dynamic and took into account the participation of the students.

During my early stage of research, I identified that researchers and institutions have different concepts about OS, but that they coincide in the action of sharing scientific knowledge product of a research. If we go further we can define that OS involves opening up the entire research process by documenting it and making it accessible for the benefit of the transparency of the research itself and of the article.

The main drawback from my point of view is the lack of knowledge on the subject among the agents that make up the OS which leads to the data not being FAIR, the publications are not on open access platforms even if they have been subsidized with public funds this contributes to the traditional evaluation system of science based on the impact factor and the number of citations.

As an open scientist I intend to create a digital identity in the main academic social networks to disseminate my research and in social networks that allow me to perform academic networking among researchers who develop similar lines of research with mine to promote the exchange of ideas and collaborative work. Likewise, to integrate into my research process the good practices of OS, that is, to elaborate a Data Management Plan (DMP) from the beginning of the research, to publish in a multidisciplinary repository that complies with the FAIR principles the research data that prove the transparency of my publications and to choose an open access journal to publish my articles.

Finally, I can say that the experience was enriching and I am enthusiastic about the idea of creating spaces like this course so that more researchers can learn about the benefits of becoming an Open Scientist.