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Continued Growth in OSF Usage: Catalyzing Change in Open Practices

May 9th, 2022,
Posted in: OSF, Community, Open Science

Since COS was founded in 2013, we have had non-linear growth on our key performance indicators. For example, the average number of new Open Science Framework (OSF) users per day has increased every year. In 2017, we would be amazed by a day in which 300 people signed up for OSF on a single day. In 2021, that was a below average day.

OSF Users DailyWe see similar kinds of growth in engagement with open science across all activities – amount of metascience research, volume of grassroots activity, and journal and funder engagement.

The challenge with supporting exponential growth effectively is the exponent – growth relentlessly piling on to prior growth. To be effective, we have to design and refine our workflows and systems in infrastructure, operations, community engagement, communications, and research to manage rates of engagement that are several times larger than they are today. We have to do so knowing that our resources will not scale at the same rate. That is, we have to continuously become more efficient with the resources we have to meet an ever increasing open science community.

A good example of this is community building. Our implementation strategy for catalyzing communities to change norms cannot rely on our staff to be doing the work for the long-term. The strategy has to continuously be creating ways to build capacity and ensure the operational ownership resides in the community. Otherwise, COS’s ability to support community change will necessarily be limited by the size of our team. For example, in Psychology we contributed to founding the Society for Improvement of Psychological Science (SIPS), collaborated closely initially to solidify operations and promote sustainability, and then stepped back to work with the community through SIPS as partners so that we could deploy community catalyzing resources elsewhere.

The average number of new OSF users per day in 2022 so far is 447. That’s 447 per day, every day – almost double the average in 2020. More than 4x the average in 2017. More than 17x the average in 2015.

Scaling is a problem that every organization wants to have. It is incredibly challenging to do it well, and incredibly exciting to have the opportunity to try to meet that challenge.

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