Open science has the potential to unlock a world of possibilities by increasing access to research products and processes for fellow researchers, educators, innovators, community advocates, policymakers, and beyond. In so doing, we can spur discovery and innovation, bolster public trust, and strengthen evidence-based decision making. That’s why open science is at the heart of Biden-Harris Administration priorities—from curbing greenhouse gas emissions to reducing social inequalities to ending cancer as we know it. To help realize these possibilities, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy hosted a series of four public listening sessions to elevate the needs, priorities, and experiences of those who will shape and inherit the future of open science: the early career researcher community.
These sessions were part of a Year of Open Science to advance open science policies, spark change, and inspire engagement across the federal government. Announced by the White House in January, this effort follows OSTP’s 2022 Public Access Memorandum to ensure free, immediate, and equitable access to federally funded research. As OSTP celebrates the Year’s midpoint, we recognize the vital role of the early career researcher community in advancing a sustainable future for open, equitable, and secure research.
Over the four sessions, OSTP, our federal partners, and over 1,000 participants joined together to discuss the opportunities and challenges for advancing open science in the United States. Speakers included early career researchers and students, as well as those supporting the early career researcher community, including librarians, publishers, faculty, scientific associations, and trainers. Throughout the sessions, participants made clear that early career researchers have long been at the forefront of the open science movement, so the future of open science must center their voices and recognize their leadership. Additional key messages included:
- Equity must be embedded in open science policies and programs to promote a more inclusive and collaborative scientific ecosystem. Doing so requires recognizing and addressing uneven access to open science infrastructures, expertise, training, and funding to meet the diverse needs of researchers, institutions, and communities to enjoy the benefits of open science.
- Dedicated funding and resources are needed to support both formal and informal training opportunities for early career researchers, who tend to be self-taught and are often not afforded dedicated time to learn open science practices. These include openly available training modules on topics like effective data management practices, ethical frameworks for data sharing, and tools to enhance reproducibility, as well as communities of practice, such as workshops and journal clubs.
- Rewarding sharing of research outputs beyond publications, such as scientific data and software, in research and performance assessments can elevate their importance in scholarly communication and incentivize the time needed for effective curation and sharing practices. Speakers noted this can help ease the pressure to “publish or perish” within current incentive structures, which emphasize the volume of peer-reviewed publications that researchers must author, as well as enhancing research quality, reproducibility, and rigor.
- Investing in centralized open science infrastructure and resources, as well as networks for knowledge sharing, can enable more equitable access to opportunities for technical assistance and skill development given these resources are not evenly distributed across research institutions, particularly lower-resourced or less research-intensive institutions.
- Open science enables new pathways for how scientific information is communicated to various audiences. Some speakers advocated for increased sharing of preliminary research findings through preprints and resulting opportunities for open peer review. Others spoke to science communication and public engagement efforts to share research findings and connect with community advocates, science enthusiasts, and other members of the broader public.
- Expanding equitable access to the products and processes of research can provide pathways to co-create research questions and solutions with communities and to develop hands-on educational opportunities by reusing openly available data and software.
As we move into the second half of a Year of Open Science, OSTP will continue to build and strengthen the foundation for a sustainable future of open science, looking towards the leadership and experiences of early career researchers and other members of the open science community. Updates on Year of Open Science activities led by our federal agency partners can be found at open.science.gov.