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Open Access and Open Science - Do you know the difference?

At the upcoming LIBER Annual Conference, librarians and researchers will gather in Lille from 4 – 6 July 2018 and discuss how to transform Research Libraries into an Open Science Hub. What are the recent developments in Open Science? And what does Open Science differentiate from Open Access? Springer Nature's Grace Baynes, VP Data and New Product Development, discusses the differences and explains how Springer Nature helps libraries make their data FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable).

In the media, open access is often used as synonym for open science. Can you briefly explain the differences?

I can understand why the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably. My understanding is that “open access” refers to making content freely and openly available, with clear licensing that enables reuse. This could apply to journal articles, monographs, book chapter or research data.

Open science is a somewhat broader term and is about maximising dissemination of knowledge and enabling collaboration by professional researchers and the interested public. So open science or “open research” includes open access to content and information but also could encompass things like citizen science projects, scholarly communication networks, open source software and open lab notebooks. 

What are the latest developments in the field of open science?  

There are many! We continue to see open access publishing grow, both in established journals and new journals launched by publishers, societies and institutions. Open Access to books and chapters is also developing quickly, and as well as increasing options from publishers like Springer Nature (where we have recently published our 500th OA book), a number of research institutions have launched their own university presses to enable open access journal and book publishing over the past few years. Funders and research organizations continue to review their open access policies, as we learn from nearly 20 years of open access publishing and policy. 

Beyond open access to journals and books, we see increasing moves by funders and governments to encourage and require that research data are managed and shared. This is critical as research data are in many ways the real building blocks of discovery. Projects like the European Open Science Cloud will be key over the next few years. We need to provide researchers with easier routes to manage, share and discover data, and the support and information they need to know how to share, and where. As well as research data, we see moves to extend open up access to software code –but finding ways to help researchers share code. This isn’t new as open source has been around for a long time, but as technology and research develops, finding better tools especially for the non-specialist is important and interesting.

In July, you will attend the LIBER (Association of European Research Libraries) Conference in Lille, France. One of the five pillars of LIBER’s future strategy is that “Research Data is Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR)”. How does Springer Nature help research libraries achieving this goal?

I was really pleased to see LIBER taking a visionary position on research data in its 2018-2022 strategy, envisioning a world in 2022 where “Research Data is Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR)”. At Springer Nature we share this goal, and think that the best way to achieve it is collaboration between research libraries, funders, repositories, publishers, and researchers themselves.

At Springer Nature we are strong advocates for data availability through our editorial and journal policies, having introduced standard journal data policies in 2016.  Through the Research Data Alliance, a group of publishers, funders and research institutions are collaborating to agree a framework for journal data policies, to reduce complexity for authors and encourage good practice.  We also offer a free Research Data Support Helpdesk for journal policy questions and to help researchers find the most appropriate data repository.  We are not trying to build a proprietary ecosystem for research data, and instead encourage depositing research data in repositories, and have an open access list of repositories we have assessed and recommend.

Our Research Data Support service is now available to institutions, who want to help researchers deposit their data in repositories and make it citable and easier to find. Initially available into Figshare, we help researcher deposit their data, curate their metadata, and write data availability statements and human-readable summaries. A number of institutions are now providing this support to researchers through a research data support team, the library or scholarly communications team. Researchers at those institutions are fortunate to have such support. Our goal is complement that, providing institutions who have not yet built an in-house team or need some specialist support a cost-effective and scalable solution. Building on our team of experienced data curators, research data managers and archivists, we are also offering training to institutions. Nature Research Academies research data training ranges from introductory sessions about data and publishing for early career researchers, to hands-on curation workshops teaching metadata curation, and modules designed specifically for research data support staff. We know that tracking compliance with funder and institution data policies, and keeping track of where a research institution’s data *are* can be challenging. We can now offer data availability statement reporting covering all Springer Nature journals, enabling libraries to quickly track and catalog data availability associated with Springer Nature publications.

We need to make it worth a researcher’s time to share their data.  Incentives are sorely lacking.  Data publishing, and better data citation and linking, are part of the solution. Our research data journal Scientific Data and our new data note article type in BMC Research Notes both provide authors with a publication credit.

What are your expectations for this year’s LIBER Conference?

I’m attending LIBER to listen and learn. I’m looking forward to joining the sessions, and hope to gain insight into LIBER attendees thinking on open research, open access, research data and scholarly communication in the broadest sense. My ideal would be that LIBER leads to some new opportunities for Springer Nature to collaborate with research libraries.

Grace initiated the white paper Practical Challenges for Researchers in Data SharingRead the press release here.

Grace is available for talks etc. at the LIBER Conference.

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