A cross-cutting theme
Today, open science is a keyword in all fields of science. It is a cross-cutting theme covering scientific practices, researcher evaluation, but also research funding and impact. For instance, the European Union has committed to promoting open science in its framework program Horizon Europe, and UNESCO is providing a recommendation for Open Science Guidelines in the near future. Similarly, the Academy of Finland gives guidelines to scholars applying for research funding on fulfilling the criteria of open science in their applications.
Why is open science important for impact?
Open science is, in fact, the guarantee that research funding from the public sector brings in something for society. The funders expect that when new knowledge and innovations result from research they have been funding, they can also expect that everyone can use the benefits that the results bring about. Therefore, there is a direct link between open science and research impact.
Qualitative impact measuring
Open science results in both scientific and societal impact. Scientific impact is achieved, for example, via open access publications and open data. Research results reach thus not just colleagues in academia, but there is the possibility that they can be used by other stakeholders such as industry or policymakers.
Even if quantitative measurement of, for example, publications can bring one aspect to impact, it is not the whole truth.
As our Maximising impact –section shows, the actual impact of research comes only after somebody makes use of research results. Scientific impact can be measured, for instance, by data and publication citations. However, citations and thus impact vary from one field to another. Even if quantitative measurement of, for example, publications can bring one aspect to impact, it is not the whole truth. Part of the open science is responsible research practices and researcher evaluation, which do not encourage concentrating on just quantitative measurement of impact. Also, qualitative impact counts.
Qualitative impact of open science relates to societal impact. Societal impact in open science is manifold: it comprises the basic idea that science is open to all citizens. It could mean that people are engaged to a research project via citizen science practices or that they benefit from a product of the research, which could be an exhibition at the local museum or a public lecture on research results.
Easy and trustworthy communication
Research funding bodies are eager to see how the society uses the results of the funded projects. Open science means that the results should be communicated to society in various ways, both on the institutional and citizen level. This requires that the results be presented so that they are understandable and usable for people outside of academia.
Of course, open science is not just about impact – it is seen as a way to promote good research practices and research integrity. Being as open as possible with your methods, data, and research results shows that you follow the ethical guidelines in your research work and are keen on spreading information about your research. Now that falsified information and fake news have become common, it is of utmost importance for researchers to communicate openly about their research topics, including methods and data.
New evaluation methods
Societal impact of open science is important for research projects, but it has implications also on the individual level. Namely, open science means breaking the traditional ways to evaluate an individual researcher. Today, the concept of responsible researcher evaluation entails more emphasis on versatile ways to evaluate an individual researcher, meaning that not only quantitative measurement of scientific results counts.
There is now pressure on recognizing new evaluation methods such as compiling compact narratives as part of the academic cv, which can highlight how the researcher in question has promoted open science.
Traditional evaluations that are often based on quantitative data (such as H-index) are insufficient to cover and measure new areas of research activity such as opening data, using citizen science or mentoring. There is now pressure on recognizing new evaluation methods such as compiling compact narratives as part of the academic cv, which can highlight how the researcher in question has promoted open science. Presenting this kind of impact counts on an individual level when, for instance, writing a funding application and applying for jobs in academia.
Example of creating a bridge between science and society: Science meets parliaments/science meets regions, final report: Download here.