Reflections on the ‘Year of Science’ - Why a US federal government initiative has impact

Research Publishing
By: Kaia Motter and Laura Patton, Fri May 3 2024
Kaia and Laura

Author: Kaia Motter and Laura Patton

In early 2023, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) launched a Year of Open Science (YOS). This was to mark the ten-year anniversary of the OSTP Policy memo requiring increased access to results of federally funded research. The YOS aimed to highlight achievements to date and encourage more scientists to adopt open science practices (you can read more about it in this comment piece from  Nature). Springer Nature, along with 22 others, officially joined the initiative, and at the end of March, we participated in NASA’s culminating conference to showcase YOS outcomes, coalition-building efforts, and ongoing initiatives stemming from the YOS. 

While of course every year at Springer Nature is a Year of Open Science, when the US federal government makes it official, the impact is significant. It signaled a driving commitment to moving the dial on publicly accessible research and an increased understanding of the value of open science within the US - which due to its size - has seen a slower uptake.  The YOS events provided opportunities to align our open science objectives with external stakeholders, explore avenues to expand open science and its practices across the US research community, and foster collaboration among diverse stakeholders, many of whom are not usually in the same room. It is no secret that to achieve a truly sustainable, global, open science environment, we all need to be working together - funders, institutions, international policy makers, universities, research institutions, publishers - and events such as this conference better enable that open knowledge exchange and the sharing of recommendations to advance open science policies and practices.

During the conference, sessions led by experts such as  Erika Pastrana (Code Ocean); Ed Gerstner (State of Open Data report); and  Stavroula Kosta (on our recent NHB replication study)  (all of which can be found and watched here), highlighted the role publishers can play beyond facilitating access. These presentations showcased the value we add as enablers of open science practice. The session that sparked vigorous debate was the session on data sharing and the impact of publisher-led policy, intervention, and training by Erika Pastrana, Graham Smith and Patrick Goymer (Nature editor). 

From multiple white papers, research projects and community surveys, we see time and time again that researchers understand the value of open data, but face competing priorities. Publishers are well-positioned to remove barriers to participation by automating and facilitating the open sharing of data, code, and other open science research artifacts. As a proactive partner to the research community, Springer Nature is leading the way in applying new approaches to open data sharing to support growing funder requirements and the needs of different research communities globally and within the US. The US does not have a central or unified policy around open data sharing across funders and institutions. The 2023 NIH DMS policy has propelled open data sharing forward for NIH funded researchers, and the OSTP Memo could do the same for all federally funded research, but open data is still not the default policy for many funders and institutions. Researchers, librarians, and universities are wary of yet another requirement and the associated administrative burden. Demystifying the steps to make data open, starting conversations about efficient, useful, and sustainable ways of sharing data, and partnering with stakeholders along the journey is how Springer Nature is doing our part.

OA continues to evolve, and as recently pointed out by our Chief Publishing Officer, Harsh Jegadeesan, we need to remain nimble and responsive to the needs of our community. As we have seen across Europe and the growing adoption in other parts of the world, supporting workflows to better enable open research practice is one central way to improve the adoption of open science. The key to enabling a truly open science global world is to bridge the gap between funders, institutions, and researchers.  The YOS was a loud commitment to this from the US Federal Government and one we valued being a part of.  Collaboration remains at the heart of our approach to diving forward open science, and we welcome all opportunities to work with stakeholders throughout the research system.



Kaia and Laura

Author: Kaia Motter and Laura Patton

Kaia Motter is Head of Academic Affairs, North America at Springer Nature where she leads academic affairs activities in the US and Canada, building relationships and collaborating with funders, institutions, and other non-profit organizations in the region. Kaia has a background in publishing, having held editorial positions at Elsevier and Wiley. In recent years, her work has been centered on open science development, policy, and outreach with a topical focus on research assessment reform, research integrity, AI, and other issues impacting the research community.

Laura Patton is the Head of Government Affairs, US at Springer Nature Group. She works to disseminate and promote research from Springer Nature publications to a Congressional audience and other key policymakers, as well as build understanding of the scholarly publishing ecosystem. Before joining Springer Nature in 2022, she worked in congressional relations at the RAND Corporation. Laura started her career in Congress where she served as an aide to Representative David Obey, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee. She has an M.A. from Johns Hopkins University.