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To promote open science, it is essential to revise how researchers are evaluated. Experts from around the world called for this change at the session entitled “Open science: from values to practice. Building a roadmap for transformative change”, hosted by B·Debate, an initiative of Biocat and the “la Caixa” Foundation, at CosmoCaixa on 4 and 5 October.

Currently, a scientist's professional career is often evaluated based mainly on the number of publications and the impact factor of the scientific journals their papers are published in. Several international movements have already highlighted the importance of revising the system to improve how the quality of results and impact of research are evaluated. They call for quality, separate from quantity, to be taken into account in evaluating research.

The man behind the concept of RRI (responsible research and innovation), René Von Schomberg, explained at the B·Debate session in Barcelona that the current evaluation system leads to individual efficacy but systemic inefficacy. This means, for example, that the number of publications in Europe is high but does not translate into similar levels of innovation. So, the European Commission (EC) is considering investment in multi-stakeholder coalitions that work together to seek out the best solutions to persistent, complex problems.

Experts proposed a new evaluation model that would be more flexible, taking into account the variety of research areas, the content of the scientific papers (not only their numbers), and the impact of the results on their context. These and other concerns contributed by the scientific community will be included in a document with a series of recommendations for local, regional, national and European institutions to help them promote open science.


What is open science?

Open science is a movement that promotes science that is more accessible, effective, reproducible and transparent. Recently, the governments of Spain and Catalonia have expressed their desire to implement open science as part of national plans. The European Union, along with 12 national bodies, all of which fund R&D, launched Plan S last month. Through this initiative, they are committing to requiring researchers that receive their funding to publish the results of their projects immediately in an open-access forum starting in 2020.

In order to contribute to this goal, one of the proposals debated at the B·Debate session was to create incentives for improving the reproducibility of experiments. Other ideas highlighted the value of citizen laboratories and other participative initiatives to include a variety of stakeholders in the research. In more general terms, experts agreed on the need to promote a more collaborative culture in which results are shared along with the data and processes used to reach them.

This B·Debate session was co-organized by 5 institutions involved in European responsible research and innovation (RRI) and open science projects: Center for Genomic Regulation (CRG), University of Barcelona (UB), Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), IrsiCaixa AIDS Research Institute and Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal).

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