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Published onMar 03, 2021


How to use this handbook

“The shift is to implement, at all levels in each organization, a bias toward action” (Nowviskie 2012; <> Accessed June 30, 2019).

The Open Scientist Handbook is designed to give any scientist on the planet the know-how and tools to become an effect open science culture change agent at your job, in your professional organizations and collegial associations, and in your personal life. “Open science”—what people after 2030 will call “science”— refactors 20th Century science cultures to restore those practices, motivations, virtues, rigor, and joys that have long been the incentives for smart, creative individuals like you to challenge the universe’s unknowns as a scientist, instead of devising clever derivative financial devices for Wall Street (which you totally could have done).

Open scientists take full advantage of emergent technologies (e.g., the internet, cloud computing, online networking) in order to build shared research repositories and platforms that provide abundant, mineable data, reproducible experiments, lateral learning for new methods, rapid research publication with rigorous review, streamlined and fair funding opportunities, and world-wide knowledge access with equal participation.

Your future is better with open science. Why is that? Open science offers new value to your work and your science life. Open science multiplies your research’s impact. When you add your research objects (from ideas to findings) to open repositories, these can be rapidly discovered, evaluated, shared, and applauded; and all of this without being subjected to arbitrary metrics that institutions have gamified for their own purposes (e.g., journal impact factors), instead of providing value to your own work. As open science is grounded on Demand Sharing and Fierce Equality, you can also pull resources from the common pool to accelerate your work, and discover new collaborators across the planet.

This vision of an open, global science endeavor confronts a range of entrenched institutional practices and perverse incentives: a toxic culture that has hobbled science for decades. Open scientists need the know-how and tools to tear down these practices and to interrogate these incentives, in order to replace them.

Culture is a problematic term, not just for the natural scientist trying to wrap her thoughts around its many uses, but also within anthropology and sociology where it has more of a home. Culture is also at the core of the entire endeavor we call “open science.” This handbook will provide a usable working description of “culture”—a handy culture monkey-wrench—as this applies within the social arenas wherever scientists operate: from academic departments, to funding-agency proposal review panels, to professional associations; and also to their personal choices.

Many academics are familiar with projects that work to build science “infrastructure” using shared technology platforms and standards. The twin task of this is to build social infraculture using shared principles, norms, and governance logics. With this guidebook you can confidently announce that you are ready to tackle culture change, armed with real knowledge of what academic culture is, how it works (and where it doesn’t), and what to do about it.

Use this handbook as guidance on how you can become an open science culture change agent in your life and your work. As a handbook, you can use this as a guide, dipping into its contents as you need, without reading the whole thing cover-to-cover. Do you want to know a bit about “culture” or “community”? You can do that here. Heard about “the commons” and need some real information? There’s a chapter for that. Dealing with an asshole-with-tenure? This book can help. Everything you need to begin your own conversations about open science in your lab, your university, or your learned society can be found here. Do you work in a funding agency or foundation? This book will help you focus your funding strategies.

This handbook’s guidance does not require that you adhere to some single mode of thought or action; how you articulate your own position on open science is entirely up to you.

“Physics is to mathematics what sex is to masturbation” (Richard Feynman, in Krause and March 1994).
… “Open science is to science what sex is to masturbation” (everybody in 2022).

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