Open research is concerned with making scientific research more transparent, more collaborative and more efficient. A central aspect to it is to provide open access to scientific information, especially to the research published in scholarly journals and to the underlying data, much of which traditional science tends to hide away. Other aspects are more open forms of collaboration and engagement with a wider audience, including citizen scientists and the public at large.
Open research is concerned with making scientific research more transparent, more collaborative and more efficient. A central aspect to it is to provide open access to scientific information, especially to the research published in scholarly journals and to the underlying data, much of which traditional science tends to hide away. Other aspects are more open forms of collaboration and engagement with a wider audience, including citizen scientists and the public at large.

Open research is research conducted in the spirit of free and open-source software. Much like open-source schemes that are built around a source code that is made public, the central theme of open research is to make clear accounts of the methodology freely available via the internet, along with any data or results extracted or derived from them. This permits a massively distributed collaboration, and one in which anyone may participate at any level of the project.

Especially if the research is scientific in nature, it is frequently referred to as open science.[1][2] Open research can also include social sciences, the humanities, mathematics, engineering and medicine.

Types of open projects

Important distinctions exist between different types of open projects.

Projects that provide open data but don't offer open collaboration are referred to as "open access" rather than open research. Providing open data is a necessary but not sufficient condition for open research, because although the data may be used by anyone, there is no requirement for subsequent research to take place openly. For example, though there have been many calls for more open collaborative research in drug discovery[3] and the open deposition of large amounts of data,[4] there are very few active, openly collaborative projects in this area.[5][6][7]

Crowdsourcing projects that recruit large numbers of participants to carry out small tasks which are then assembled into a larger project outcome have delivered significant research outcomes,[8][9] but these projects are distinct from those in which participants are able to influence the overall direction of the research, or in which participants are expected to have creative input into the science behind the project.

Most open research is conducted within existing research groups. Primary research data are posted which can be added to, or interpreted by, anyone who has the necessary expertise and who can therefore join the collaborative effort. Thus the "end product" of the project (which may still be subject to future expansion or modification) arises from many contributions across multiple research groups, rather than the effort of one group or individual. Open research is therefore distinct from open access in that the output of open research is prone to change with time.[10]

Unlike open access, true open research must demonstrate live, online collaboration. Project websites that demonstrate this capability have started to become available.[11][12]

Copyright conventions

Issues with copyright are dealt with by using either standard copyright (where applicable), releasing the content into the Public domain or by releasing the content under licenses such as one of the Creative Commons licenses[11] or one of the GNU General Public Licenses[citation needed].


In 2005, several examples arose in the area of the search for new/improved medical treatments of Neglected Diseases.[11][13][14][15][16]

Science and engineering research to support the creation of open-source appropriate technology for sustainable development has long used open research principles.[17][18][19][20][21] Open source research for sustainable development is now becoming formalized with open access for literature reviews, research methods, data, results and summaries for laypeople.[22]

Wiki-based examples include: Appropedia, Wikiversity, Citizendium, Scholarpedia.

While first attempts towards opening research were primarily aimed at opening areas such as scientific data, methodologies, software and publications, now increasingly other artifacts of the scientific workflow are also tackled, such as scientific meta-data[23] and funding ideas.[24]

In 2013, open research became more mainstream with web based platforms such as figshare continuing to grow in terms of users and publicly available outputs.[25]

The Transparency and Openness Promotion (TOP) Committee met in 2014 to address one key element of the incentive systems: journals' procedures and policies for publication. The committee consisted of disciplinary leaders, journal editors, funding agency representatives, and disciplinary experts largely from the social and behavioral sciences. By developing shared standards for open practices across journals, the committee said it hopes to translate scientific norms and values into concrete actions and change the current incentive structures to drive researchers' behavior toward more openness.[26] The committee said it sought to produce guidelines that (a) focus on the commonalities across disciplines, and that (b) define what aspects of the research process should be made available to the community to evaluate, critique, reuse, and extend. The committee added that the guidelines aim to help improve journal policies in order to help transparency, openness, and reproducibility "become more evident in daily practice and ultimately improve the public trust in science, and science itself."[26]

See also


  1. ^ For an overview, see "Reinventing Discovery" by Michael Nielsen, Princeton University Press (21 October 2011), ISBN 0-691-14890-2
  2. ^ Woelfle, Michael; Olliaro, Piero; Todd, Matthew H. (23 September 2011). "Open science is a research accelerator". Nature Chemistry. 3 (10): 745–748. Bibcode:2011NatCh...3..745W. doi:10.1038/nchem.1149. PMID 21941234.
  3. ^ Hopkins, Andrew L.; Witty, Michael J.; Nwaka, Solomon (13 September 2007). "Neglected Diseases Mission possible". Nature. 449 (7159): 166–169. doi:10.1038/449166a. PMID 17851512.
  4. ^ Gamo, Francisco-Javier; Sanz, Laura M.; Vidal, Jaume; De Cozar, Cristina; Alvarez, Emilio; Lavandera, Jose-Luis; Vanderwall, Dana E.; Green, Darren V. S.; Kumar, Vinod; Hasan, Samiul; Brown, James R.; Peishoff, Catherine E.; Cardon, Lon R.; Garcia-Bustos, Jose F. (2010). "Thousands of chemical starting points for antimalarial lead identification". Nature. 465 (7296): 305–310. Bibcode:2010Natur.465..305G. doi:10.1038/nature09107. PMID 20485427.
  5. ^ Open Source Drug Discovery wiki
  6. ^ Indian Open Source Drug Discovery portal
  7. ^ Mendeley Group on Open Source Drug Discovery
  8. ^ Cooper, Seth; Khatib, Firas; Treuille, Adrien; Barbero, Janos; Lee, Jeehyung; Beenen, Michael; Leaver-Fay, Andrew; Baker, David; Popović, Zoran; Players, Foldit (2010). "Predicting protein structures with a multiplayer online game". Nature. 466 (7307): 756–760. Bibcode:2010Natur.466..756C. doi:10.1038/nature09304. PMC 2956414. PMID 20686574.
  9. ^ Land, Kate; Slosar, Anže; Lintott, Chris; Andreescu, Dan; Bamford, Steven; Murray, Phil; Nichol, Robert; Raddick, M. Jordan; Schawinski, Kevin; Szalay, Alex; Thomas, Daniel; Vandenberg, Jan (2008). "Galaxy Zoo: The large-scale spin statistics of spiral galaxies in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey★". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 388 (4): 1686–1692. arXiv:0803.3247. Bibcode:2008MNRAS.388.1686L. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2008.13490.x.
  10. ^ Todd, Matthew H. (1 January 2007). "Open access and open source in chemistry". Chemistry Central Journal. 1 (1): 3. doi:10.1186/1752-153X-1-3. PMC 1975827. PMID 17939849.
  11. ^ a b c The Synaptic Leap
  12. ^ MIAWiki for Open Research and Collaboration
  13. ^ Usefulchem
  14. ^ Article in the American Chemical Society's magazine C&E News on Open Research
  15. ^ Kepler, Thomas B.; Marti-Renom, Marc A.; Maurer, Stephen M.; Rai, Arti K.; Taylor, Ginger; Todd, Matthew H. (1 January 2006). "Open Source Research – the Power of Us". Australian Journal of Chemistry. 59 (5): 291. doi:10.1071/CH06095.
  16. ^ Butler, Declan (4 February 2010). "Open-source science takes on neglected disease". Nature. doi:10.1038/news.2010.50. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  17. ^ Kapczynski, Amy; et al. (2005). "Addressing Global Health Inequities: An Open Licensing Approach for University Innovations". Berkley Technology Law Journal. 20: 1031–1114.
  18. ^ Maurer, Stephen M.; Rai, Arti; Sali, Andrej (2004). "Finding Cures for Tropical Diseases: Is Open Source an Answer?". PLOS Medicine. 1 (3): 183–186. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0010056. PMC 539047. PMID 15630466.
  19. ^ Pearce, Joshua M. (2012). "The Case for Open Source Appropriate Technology" (PDF). Environment, Development and Sustainability. 14 (3): 425–431. doi:10.1007/s10668-012-9337-9.
  20. ^ A. J. Buitenhuis, I. Zelenika and J. M. Pearce, "Open Design-Based Strategies to Enhance Appropriate Technology Development", Proceedings of the 14th Annual National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance Conference: Open, 25–27 March 2010, pp. 1–12.
  21. ^ Grue, Amanda J. (2011). An investigation into and recommendations for appropriate technology education (Thesis). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. hdl:1721.1/69511.
  22. ^ Pearce, Joshua M. (2012). "Open Source Research in Sustainability". Sustainability: The Journal of Record. 5 (4): 238–243. doi:10.1089/sus.2012.9944.
  23. ^ Main Page –
  24. ^ Auer, S.; Braun-Thürmann, H.: Towards Bottom-Up, Stakeholder-Driven Research Funding – Open Source Funding, Open Peer Review. Archived 24 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine In Peer Review Reviewed: The International Career of a Quality-control Instrument and New Challenges 24–25 April 2008, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB), Berlin.
  25. ^ Boyd, S: Tools for sharing open research materials Archived 30 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine Gizmodo, 27 December 2013
  26. ^ a b Nosek, B. A.; Alter, G.; Banks, G. C.; Borsboom, D.; Bowman, S. D.; Breckler, S. J.; Buck, S.; Chambers, C. D.; Chin, G.; Christensen, G.; Contestabile, M.; Dafoe, A.; Eich, E.; Freese, J.; Glennerster, R.; Goroff, D.; Green, D. P.; Hesse, B.; Humphreys, M.; Ishiyama, J.; Karlan, D.; Kraut, A.; Lupia, A.; Mabry, P.; Madon, T.; Malhotra, N.; Mayo-Wilson, E.; McNutt, M.; Miguel, E.; et al. (2015). "Promoting an open research culture". Science. 348 (6242): 1422–1425. Bibcode:2015Sci...348.1422N. doi:10.1126/science.aab2374. PMC 4550299. PMID 26113702.