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An interview with one of OSCL's founders, Anna van 't Veer

Many people don't know exactly what Open Science is or why it is important. In a short interview, Anna van 't Veer explains her take on it.

What is Open Science?!

“For me, Open Science means transparency: being open and honest about the process, in our writing and other communication. Open Science goes hand in hand with the current reform in science that tries to improve research practices and makes the knowledge we generate more reliable. Someone gave me a sticker the other day that hits home about what these reforms are about, it said “Open Science: just science done right”. I think science was meant to be reproducible and transparent in order to learn as much about the world as we can. It would be excellent if we can drop the word “open” and just call it “science” again in the future. Open Access is also a part of Open Science: is our work accessible to the taxpayer (whom you could argue paid for the work)? I believe that the Open Science methods and norms we are creating now will be the basis of how we do science in the future; it is a very exciting time to be able to contribute to this!”

Why is transparency so important?

“Transparency helps in many ways. If we all work transparently, then we will not only make sure our own work is done more thoroughly (often knowing that someone else will have access to a script makes me write it more comprehensible), but people can also improve each other's work and learn from each other more readily. Do you ever lose time trying to find something from a project you did a while ago? In my experience, if you set out to share all your work in the end, you will document it transparently and you will also find it back more easily yourself. When others find it, they can complement it or point out mistakes sooner, and in that way knowledge will accumulate faster and science will work at its best. Transparency is also about being descriptive and explaining why, for instance, you cannot share certain parts of your work.”

Why build this local community?

“When you want to start doing Open Science, it can be a bit daunting. There are many new terms and acronyms, entities and initiatives that are involved in some part of Open Science. People often think that they have to know all these things and do everything right from the start. That is not true of course, every little step helps. With this community we want to help with that. For instance, walk into the office of your colleague down the hall and ask for her experience with a certain practice. Join a discussion or a workshop about a topic you are curious about, or learn how other faculties work on transparency or reproducibility. With the Open Science Community Leiden we want to make broad international knowledge accessible locally. We do this with member profiles on the website: people indicate about which Open Science topics they already know something and about which topics they would like to learn more. With this information, people can find each other, and we can organise events like workshops that cover the topics people want to learn about in a ‘how-to’ manner, or invite a speaker and have drinks afterwards to get to know each other. The main point is to start the conversation and to make learning about topics like sharing data, preregistration, replication, open access, open workflows, integrity, etc., efficient and accessible.”

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