At the beginning of July, the Wellcome Trust (WT), one of UK’s biggest non-governmental biomedical research funders, announced that they will provide a platform for researchers funded by WT to publish their data and research studies for free online. After uploading, the data can be critically read and openly commented by the scientific community. On July 28th, WT has signed an open data concordat, further demonstrating their commitment to advance open research.
Accelerating the publishing process and making research freely available are certainly two steps in the right direction, however, time will tell if this WT initiative will also find working solutions for different aspects like 1. maintaining a rigorous post-publication peer-review system; 2. establishment of a system to reject low-quality publications; 3. ensuring that scientists do not feel compelled to publish with a platform only because it belongs to their funding body; etc.
Just three years ago, the Centre for Open Science was founded to support openness and reproducibility in research promoting several interesting ideas. Just to name two of them: firstly, the infrastructure projectOpen Science Framework, enabling connection of the entire research cycle and to facilitate scholarly collaboration;
secondly, the Preregistration Challenge, for which 1,000 scientists will each receive 1000$ USD if they publish their experimental plan before performing the experiment.
In this line, one should mention Dr Rachel Harding who is performing research on Huntington’s disease and publishes her laboratory notebook on an almost daily basis. She uses Zenodo as a data repository to make all her data openly available, equipped with a digital object identifier (DOI) number. Therefore, scientists can directly cite her experiments. This heroic pilot really shows how transparent and open science can be.
These are indeed new ways of openness initiated by 1. a funding agency, 2. a newly established non-profit organization and 3. a single scientist. Due to the technology available today, it is certainly possible to upload unlimited data, thereby (hopefully) creating a new environment for the scientific community to discuss research as well as exchange results based on primary data.