1/2016

Open science is an asset

Science and research must be open and transparent in order to be self-healing. When all research data is available to anyone, the research results can be repeated and the methods improved. This is a necessity for scientific and technological advancement.

Open science

 

TUT’s new Research Data Policy outlines that research materials and methods are, by default, open and available for joint use.

 

Open science and open research refer to a practice according to which scientific research is conducted in an open and transparent manner. This involves the publication of research findings, their underlying research data and the research methods applied in a way that allows anyone to review, use and apply them.

“The more we open our publications and the underlying data and methods by following the principle of open science, the more we facilitate the verification of research findings. It helps researchers save both time and work when they can avoid redundancies. Opening research materials to others also increases related references. This, in turn, increases a researcher’s visibility and merits, says TUT’s Library Director Riitta Lähdemäki.

Making research data open is not only a requirement by research financiers; it is also necessitated by an increasing number of publishers for scientific publications. It is also a convenient way to prevent frauds related to research findings.

Physicists blazed the trail

TUT for the openness of science

TUT’s new Research Data Policy outlines that research materials and methods are, by default, open and available for joint use. Researchers are also required to prepare a data management plan. For all doctoral dissertations and scientific articles, a version approved by the publisher must be stored in a parallel archive, such as the University’s TUTCRIS research portal.

The Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland has launched the Open Science and Research Initiative (ATT), which involves the requirement that TUT monitors the University’s publication activities and the visibility thereof.

“TUT is also about to deploy social media tools that allow following up on researchers’ visibility in the social media, TUT’s Library Director Riitta Lähdemäki notes.

 

“The openness of science and research is among the most profound principles of science. Openness is not only an option – it is a necessity,” says Professor Esa Räsänen from TUT’s Department of Physics.

“Physicists have been the forerunners when it comes to promoting openness. The arXiv.org parallel archive service has become a standard in our field. It was founded in the Los Alamos Laboratory in the United States, as particle physicists wanted to share their research findings at a faster pace,” Räsänen explains.

The Internet is also indebted to physicists. “The world wide web was originally created in the Swiss CERN research institution for particle physics. Open Access and the Internet have both arisen from an inherent need to share information,” Räsänen notes.

Making articles available to all

In the field of physics, it is a common practice to first submit articles to the arXiv.org service administered by the Cornell University before they are published in science journals or being peer reviewed. Once an article is approved for a journal, a link to the approved version is added to the arXiv.org edition to keep it constantly up to date. Therefore, even if not all universities hold a copy of the journal, it is openly available to everyone online. The archive service also serves as a proof as to who was the first to invent a specific thing.

Räsänen hopes to see equivalent non-commercial archive services also become available in other fields.

Open source code is key

Providing open source code is essential to enable anyone to improve software.

“The Windows software, for example, is inaccessible to outsiders as the underlying source code has been closed. With open source code, anyone is free to use, copy, edit, share and preserve code,” Räsänen says.

The most common way to publish code and software in the field of physics is to use the open source code-based General Public License (GPL). The core of the code is available for viewing and editing by anyone. This does not prevent using the code commercially as long as the GPL licence is retained.

Open Science and Research Initiative, ATT (2014–)

  • Launched on MINEDU’s initiative in 2014.
  • Objective: by 2017, making Finland one of the world’s top countries in terms of open science and research.
  • Conducted a survey on the openness of the operational culture at Finnish higher education institutions in 2015. TUT ranked among the top universities in the survey.
  • In the future, the survey on the openness of the operational culture at Finnish HEIs will be conducted every year.
 

Text:Leena Koskenlaakso
Photo: Rodeo

 
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