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Advancing knowledge and discovery through research that is transparent, trusted and accountable requires novel research practices that make scientific processes, data, analyses and publications accessible. The role and challenges of open scholarship - a new approach intended to accomplish the goal for breakthrough, trustworthy research - was discussed in detail by a panel of “uniformly outstanding researchers” – as Dr. Monica Lemmon said – at the research town hall hosted during the research week by the Duke Office of Scientific Integrity.

Duke’s commitment to open scholarship (OS) starts with supporting a research environment where open sharing is built in all stages of the research cycle. Dr. Geeta Swamy, Associate Vice President for Research and Vice Dean for Scientific Integrity at the School of Medicine, emphasized that implementing an open scholarship strategy requires aligning policy with incentives, norms and resources that would make open scholarship not only required, but also rewarding, normative and easy to implement. At the policy level, Dr. Swamy mentioned the nation-wide efforts that encourage OS. For example, the Office of Science Technology Policy launched the “Year of Open Science to advance national open science policies across the federal government in 2023”  and a Public Access Memo. Similarly, NIH released the Data Management and Sharing Policy which requires authors to share data on federally funded projects. “Funders make data sharing required and we, at Duke, are incorporating this requirement in the research handbook while the Office of Research Initiatives is hosting onboarding sessions to make sure that faculty know how to find what they need.” Swamy added. She emphasized the need to think ahead and plan in advance for data sharing. There are several Duke Resources that would help researchers in this process. An example is the Data Management Plan Tool (DMPTool) which helps researchers answer questions related to data management; other services such as the Duke Research Data RepositoryData Curation Services and Data Deidentification Service support researchers to share their data in a way that is understandable, complete, accessible and safe. Dr. Swamy also mentioned Duke’s role as part of The Higher Education Leadership Initiative for Open Scholarship (HELIOS).

Kevin Weinfurt, PhD, Professor and Vice-Chair of Research in the Department of Population Health Sciences at Duke University Medical Center, invited the audience to reflect of the complexity of open scholarship, as defined in A community Sourced Glossary of Open Scholarship Terms [1]:

“Open Scholarship reflects the idea that knowledge of all kinds should be openly shared, transparent, rigorous, reproducible, replicable, accumulative and inclusive (allowing for all knowledge systems). Open scholarship is not solely limited to research, and includes all scholarly activities (such as teaching and pedagogy).”

Designing clinical research studies with OS in mind requires a comprehensive approach that includes defining specific goals - Weinfurt said – such as, “What do I actually want people to do with the shared data and why?”. Setting up the goals is followed by mapping activities and resources that would allow them to accomplish those goals. “For example, is your data sharing goal to allow people to evaluate the validity and reproducibility of the findings? Or do you share your data with the goal of generating new findings and areas of exploration based on originally collected data? Planning for data sharing is different for each of these potential goals,” Weinfurt said. “If my goal is to generate new findings based on my original data, I need to think of what people might need from me. I need to plan resources, such as staff time for documentation as requested by external users or for identifying the right repository”.

Victoria Szabo, PhD, Director of the Digital Humanities Initiative, Research Professor of Art, Art History, & Visual Studies talked about creative strategies that humanities scholars embraced to integrate open scholarship in their work. Social scholarship - using social media platforms - has become a widely used resource for collaborations and sharing. The Humanities Commons blog, Platypus, is a go to for learning what is being done in this space. “The Debates in the Digital Humanities” book series is a hybrid print and digital books series that can be accessed online and allows scholars to merge these two worlds together”, Victoria Szabo added. The main OS challenges are related to boundaries, mentalities and norms. OS requires infrastructure in order for open scholarship to be possible, convenient and safe. “There is a severe fear of scooping oneself when sharing preliminary research, data, digital objects and even syllabi online.” Szabo said.

But once these challenges are managed, OS is a successful approach for advancing knowledge and discovery. Dr. Rasheed Gbadegesin was invited to share with the audience his own example in this respect. For more than a decade, his research of a rare disease, Childhood Nephrotic Syndrome, has been a productive journey which required advanced planning for resources and logistics, navigating variable regulatory standards or managing research ownership. “Some changes in the regulatory standards are needed in order to facilitate open scholarship”, Dr. Gbadegesin said. His study is continuing after a decade, which shows that OS is possible if will, planning and resources work together.

Editor in Chief for the open journal The Nurse Educator, Dr. Marilyn Oermann, Thelma M. Ingles Professor of Nursing at Duke School of Nursing, talked about open publishing major challenges: the rise of predatory journals and the high fees associated with publishing in open access journals. “There are about 15,000 predatory journals, across all fields. This is not a minor problem.” said Dr. Oermann. Another real barrier to expand the open publishing model is cost. “To provide open access to the knowledge, authors need to pay up to $ 1,000.” Dr. Oermann said.

The discussion following the presentations, moderated by Dr. Monica Lemmon, focused on institutional resources, strategies and incentives that would encourage researchers to adopt open scholarship. “The most useful resource for me is MyResearchPath, a perfect one stop shop.” Dr. Weinfurt and Dr. Gbadegesin agreed. Dr. Szabo and Dr. Oermann recommended the Duke Libraries services for researchers, such as the Center for Data and Visualization Sciences. Dr. Geeta Swamy emphasized the need to change expectations and culture. “We need to advise trainees that open scholarship will not damage their potential for being successful,” Swamy said. From the audience, Professor Misha Angrist made the case that without changing the Appointment, Promotion and Tenure (APT) Guidelines - which value publications in top ranked peer review journals – young researchers will not be incentivized to adopt open publishing. In response, Dr. Swamy recognized the need for a culture change in the way academic institutions evaluate someone’s contributions for hiring and promotion. Dr. Swamy added that the cultural shift to open framework is well underway and she noted the need for publishers to contribute to advancing the open science framework.  

Parsons, S., Azevedo, F., Elsherif, M. M., Guay, S., Shahim, O. N., Govaart, G. H., … & Aczel, B. (2022). A Community-Sourced Glossary of Open Scholarship Terms. Nature human behaviour, 6(3), 312-318.