Research Funding in Open Science

Jörg Eisfeld-Reschke, Ulrich Herb and Karsten Wenzlaff

The ultimate act of Scholarship and Theater is the art of selling

George Lois

Abstract The advent of the Open Science paradigm has led to new interdependencies between the funding of research and the practice of Open Science. On the one hand, traditional revenue models in Science Publishing are questioned by Open Science Methods and new revenue models in and around Open Science need to be established. This only works if researchers make large parts of their data and results available under Open Access principles. If research funding wants to have an impact within this new paradigm, it requires scientists and scientific projects to make more than just text publications available according to the Open Access principles. On the other hand, it is still to be discussed how Research Funding itself could be more open. Is it possible to generate a new understanding of financing science shaped by transparency, interaction, participation, and stakeholder governance—in other words reach the next level as Research Funding 2.0? This article focuses on both of the aspects: Firstly, how Research Funding is promoting Open Science. Secondly, how an innovative and open Research Funding might look like.

Research Funding Policies: Pushing forward Open Science

In the past decades, with new technology allowing interactive communication between content producers, content consumers, and intermediaries such as the publishing industry, there has been tremendous pressure on journalists, politicians, and entrepreneurs to become more accessible. The Web 2.0, a buzzword comprising of phenomena such as blogs and social networks, is shaping not just communication, but also decision-making in communities ranging from Parliamentarians to CEOs, and from TV staff to newspaper editors.

The scientific community has not felt the same amount of pressure. Nevertheless, a few scientists have taken the lead: Science blogs are increasingly popular and scientists tweet and interact with a larger audience. Universities have opened pages on Facebook and other social networks, or have created internal networks for communication. We have even witnessed the rise of social networks that exclusively address scientists (see Academia Goes Facebook? The Potential of Social Network Sites in the Scholarly Realm). A silent revolution is on its way with more and more students entering the ivory tower of academia with a set of communication expectations based on real-time communication across borders, cultures, and scientific clubs. The ivory tower opened up some windows which are now being showcased as Science 2.0.

Meanwhile, a second silent revolution has been taking place. In 2002, the Soros-founded Budapest Open Access Initiative[1] called for more publications along their principles. Ten years later, Open Access has spread to a plethora of scientific communities, publishers and journals (Bjo¨rk et al. 2010; Laakso et al. 2011; Laakso & Bjo¨ rk 2012). The more common Open Access has become, the more people start to think about what other sorts of scientific information might be available openly. As is the case with Open Access, for many initiatives striving for Openness in the context of scientific information it is quite unclear what kind of Openness they are claiming or how they define Openness. Some Open Access advocates are satisfied if scientific publications are available online and free of charge (so called Gratis Open Access) while others want these publications to be made available according the principles of the Open Definition,[2] that applies the Open Source paradigm to any sort of knowledge or information, including the rights to access, reuse, and redistribute it.

Considering the Open Science concepts as an umbrella, there are several initiatives (see Herb 2012) that want to open up nearly every component or single item within research and scientific workflows, e.g.:

Open Review, which includes both review of funding proposals and articles that are submitted for publication, the latter traditionally conducted as a peer review. Open Review does not so much aim for Openness according to the Open

Definition or the Open Source Principles, rather it is meant to make the review processes more transparent, impeding cliquishness between colleagues as submitting scientists and reviewers (Po¨schl 2004).

Open Metrics as a tool for establishing metrics for the scientific relevance of publications and data that are independent from proprietary databases like the Web of Science or the SCOPUS database which do not only charge fees, but also disallow unrestricted access to their raw data.

Open Access to scientific data according to the Panton Principles.[3]

Open Access to scientific publications.

Open Bibliography, meaning Open Access to bibliographic data.

As we can see, some of these initiatives focus on free or Open Access to science related information (in the shape of scientific data, scientific publications, or bibliographic data), while others promote a more transparent handling of the assessment processes of scientific ideas and concepts (such as Open Review and Open Metrics). Many prominent funding agencies have already adopted policies that embrace single elements of an Open Science. Among others, the National Institutes of Health NIH,[4] the Wellcome Trust, [5] the European Research Council,[6] and the upcoming European Commission Framework Horizon 2020[7] also require funded projects to make project-related research data and publications freely available.

The unfolding science of the future will be characterized not only by seamless and easy access, but also by interaction, networked and integrated research information workflows and production cycles, openness, and transparency. Science (at least in the Western hemisphere) was an open process in antiquity, having been debated in agoras in the centre of Greek cities. Even in the Roman Empire, the sharing of ideas across the Mediterranean Sea had a profound impact on civilisation—the French, Swedish, English, Italian and German languages attest to the common linguistic principles that developed in this era. Only with the ideological dominance of the Catholic doctrines following the collapse of the Roman Empire did science retreat to monasteries, and scholarly debate to universities and peer-reviewed science communities. The Enlightenment ensured that the educated citizenry became involved in science, but only the Internet has pushed the possibility for a complete citizen science, not unlike how the Greek science community would have seen the debate.

Even though the online media and the initiatives mentioned above brought Openness back to scientific communication, one might ask what research funding which is compliant with the paradigms of Openness and Science 2.0 might look like. As we have seen, many funding agencies require fundees to make their project-related research results (as data or text publication) more or less open, or at least freely available, but until now the processes of research funding are hardly ever considered to be relevant to Open Science scenarios and appear to be closed, hidden, and opaque (in contradiction to any idea of Openness).

  • [1] Budapest Open Access Initiative:
  • [2] Open Definition:
  • [3] Panton Principles:
  • [5] SHERPA/JULIET. Wellcome Trust: 12
  • [6] SHERPA/JULIET. European Research Council: PersistentID=31
  • [7] European Commission:
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