A Decade of Impact | 2023 Impact Report

A Strategy to Start, Scale, and Sustain Open Scholarship

NIH changed its biosketch policy to be inclusive of preprints, thereby legitimizing and actually rewarding this work. The product has been a great milestone. Journals have been evolving policies to at least be tolerant of preprints.
Lisa Cuevas ShawLisa Cuevas Shaw
Chief Operating Officer and Managing Director
Center for Open Science

The existing reward system in academic research prioritizes publication over accuracy, potentially compromising the credibility of research outcomes. This system undermines the trustworthiness of research and hampers innovation. We need a multi-pronged approach to make the necessary changes to spur and sustain open scholarship. Several evidence-based strategies offer a framework to facilitate the process.

The research environment is complex and characterized by siloed knowledge access and individual publication rewards. Open scholarship encompasses practices like data sharing, preprints, and open-access publishing, offering a paradigm shift toward transparency, collaboration, and public access to research, as specified in COS’s Theory of Change.


Growth in preprints over time

Growth in preprints over time

Transitioning to this model requires a strategy to encourage change at multiple levels:

Make It Possible

Laying the foundation for open practices requires robust infrastructure. User-friendly data repositories, interoperable formats, and intuitive open-access publishing platforms are essential tools for knowledge sharing. Investment in the development and maintenance of these tools ensures accessible and reliable ways to disseminate research.

Make It Easy

Simplified processes are vital in encouraging researcher adoption of open practices. Streamlining data-sharing protocols, simplifying pre-print submission mechanisms, and integrating open practices into existing research tools can reduce complexity and promote participation.

Make it Normative

Cultivating a culture of openness necessitates fostering vibrant communities. Workshops, conferences, and online forums dedicated to open practices offer platforms for knowledge exchange, collaboration, and norm-setting. Recognizing and amplifying the work of early adopters and champions further encourages widespread acceptance.

Make It Rewarding

Aligning incentives with open practices is crucial for sustained change. Metrics beyond traditional citation counts, such as data reuse rates and societal impact, should be actively assessed and recognized. Funding agencies and institutions can play an important role by incorporating open practices into grant selection criteria and promotion pathways.

Make It Required

While voluntary adoption is vital, mandating open practices through institutional policies and funding requirements can accelerate implementation. Clear guidelines for data sharing, open access publishing, and preprint deposition provide a framework for accountability and facilitate seamless integration of open practices into the research landscape.

A Way Forward

Transitioning to an open scholarship ecosystem is an ongoing journey that requires sustained commitment. By embracing change, addressing structural impediments, and building robust infrastructure, a future where knowledge flows freely is within reach.