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Shifting the incentives in research: open as a basis for collaboration

Stratos sharpens focus on proving that sharing research early and openly fuels greater collaboration and faster, better research outcomes

It has been two years since I started Stratos and shifted my attention beyond open access to open science across the full research lifecycle. We find ourselves at an inflection point. Fully embracing open science has never felt more urgent as climate change, the ongoing pandemic, and global health crises arising from the combination of the two threaten our world. We are seeing the open science message spread quickly through governments, leading research funders, research institutions, and scholars. It’s time now to produce the hard evidence that sharing research early and openly fuels greater collaboration and faster, better research outcomes. We need studies that prove the value of shifting incentives towards collaborative open research. 

Stratos has had the privilege of working with Aligning Science Across Parkinson’s (ASAP) to implement a deeply committed open science and open access program with their new funding initiative. ASAP’s vision is that open science activities will fuel greater collaboration between research teams and this in turn will lead to earlier and better outcomes in Parkinson’s research. ASAP requires that all research outputs be shared in public repositories upon posting of a mandatory preprint that precedes publication in an open access journal.  

Stratos, in partnership with Rapid Science, has helped ASAP define its open policies, implement collaborative practices and workflows, and design and build supporting open infrastructures. Core open source infrastructures include the ASAP Research Output Management System (ROMS), which logs, stores, and reports on the sharing of datasets, code, protocols, and resources, and the ASAP Hub, where funded teams collaborate with each other. All grantees must have ORCIDs and outputs must be posted in FAIR repositories with DOIs or other persistent identifiers. The ASAP Collaborative Research Network is finishing its first year. It is a case study of how a fully open science program can increase early collaboration across teams that might otherwise compete, holding research findings back for final publication. 

Working with several trusted colleagues, Stratos and Rapid Science have formed a new ‘strategic circle’ of individuals committed to implementing demonstration projects that will move the needle in open and collaborative science, from the time of conceptualization of a research project through to publication, recognition, and reward. Incentivizing Collaborative and Open Research (ICOR) is a group of people representing advocates, funders, researchers, and nonprofits who want to actively participate in a shift to open. Website with more details and calls to join us will be available in September 2021.   

In 2019, a report from Digital Science on open access showed that investment in open access was a leading indicator for greater research outputs and international collaboration. Specifically, the report stated, “Countries that have invested in Open Access have typically increased their level of international collaboration.” And, demonstrating how this has increased impact and reach of open research, the report notes that “Open Access, Funded and Internationally Collaborative papers account for just 6.3% of all output but garner 15.2% of the citations.” We must collectively produce more evidence to accelerate changes in policy and incentives for funding and career advancement.

With this evidence in mind, advancing open access remains a top priority for me, and Stratos is a partner in the Next Generation Library Publishing project (NGLP), in partnership with Educopia and CDL and funded by Arcadia. While the top 5 commercial publishers compete for who will “win” the monetization of open access, NGLP is building out technologies, services, and tools that support library publishers dramatically advancing their campus-based open access journal and IR programs.  We want to find out what happens when libraries are empowered and equipped to compete on Scholarly Communication’s world stage. 

The past two years have also offered so many opportunities to work with emerging and evolving organizations as an advisor or board member. It’s been a pleasure and honor to partner with Rapid Science and advise initiatives such as ASAPbio, PREreview, Code for Science and Society, MIT Press, Stencila, Invest in Open Infrastructure, and DataSeer, among others. These organizations are at the center of multiple groundswells of open activities and it’s been phenomenal to watch each of them grow their reach and impact. 

The open science and collaboration work that Stratos has done with ASAP can serve as a template for other funders and institutions, and we are ready to collaborate with those ready to put ideas into practice in incentivizing open and collaborative research. 

Happy Birthday, Stratos! It’s been a fantastic two years!