The Center for Open Science (COS) partners with nonprofit, governmental, and commercial entities on projects that advance our mission to increase the transparency and reproducibility of scientific research. COS is seen by some as a leader in open science, and we have an obligation to provide our services equitably, with integrity, and without partisan or ideological bias. Simultaneously, COS is an advocate for rigor and evidence-based practice and decision making.
We receive partnership requests from organizations that have particular business models, conflicts of interests, or ideologies that might risk influencing scientific credibility but who nonetheless are major stakeholders in the scientific community. Avoiding collaboration would undermine our mission of improving the entire process of scientific research. However, indiscriminate, unprincipled collaboration could undermine our mission by, for example, selecting partners based on revenue potential at the expense of mission alignment.
The goal of this framework is to be transparent about how we make decisions about partnerships, so that OSF users, staff, funders, and the broader scientific community can know how we approach this element of our business.
This framework is distinct from COS’s business plan. This is specifically about the risks and ethical principles we use to inform decisions about:
COS (1) engages in community-building and culture change efforts with consulting and collaborative engagement with a variety of stakeholders, (2) receives funding from individuals or organizations to support our work, and (3) provides some products and services for a fee. In these cases, organizations and clients can receive the benefits of our services and, in some cases, the benefits of being associated with our brand for their own interests.
How we decide to engage with others can present an ethical or philosophical challenge. In particular, potential partners may be partly or wholly motivated by reasons that are independent of, or even in conflict with, COS’s mission. Even if potential partners do not have motivations in conflict with COS’s mission, some of their policies and practices may be misaligned—functionally resulting in behaviors that are contrary to COS’s mission and values.
To say we are impartial to the backgrounds, motivations, and behaviors of our partners is an insufficient response. And, to refuse to engage with such stakeholders would hamper our mission. Our community of users, funders, staff, stakeholders, and supporters is driven by a desire to safeguard and promote scientific discovery. A core principle of improving integrity and credibility of evidence is the minimization of biases motivated by ideological or other non-scientific ends. Therefore, we need a framework by which to assess partnerships, and public communication about how we vet partners.
Risks of Partnerships that We Want to Manage:
Benefits of Partnerships that We Want to Promote:
The framework articulates and governs how we approach partnering with other groups. We want the board and staff to have confidence that any partnership will be aligned with organizational values, and trust that the leadership team does not put money over mission. We want our community of users and supporters to know where to go if they have questions about how we handle partnerships. We want our prospective partners to understand what we expect. We want to earn and maintain a brand that prioritizes the search for truth as the overriding goal of scholarship. We want to live up to the guiding principle that our sustainability efforts are in service of sustaining the mission not the organization. We want to demonstrate that COS’s resources are devoted to the creation of public goods, not works-for-hire that provide competitive advantage or secrecy of COS acquired knowledge.
Inevitably, managing these risks and benefits is an evolving practice informed by experience. As such, we expect to iteratively improve this framework. We will use version control practices to be transparent about changes over time. We expect to conduct a yearly review to ensure that our public facing content is the reporting commitments described below. If you discover content missing from any of our reporting commitments, please send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grants and Contracts:
Products and Services:
Relationships with Other Organizations and Others’ Proprietary Content: