Viennese coffee culture at the Vienna Open Science Café

One of the main blockades for the actual shift to open science is that most people, even within the open science community, operate in separate silos.

(FOSTER Plus, “Organise your own Open Science Cafe” )

During Open Access Week 2019, the Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities (ACDH) hosted a full-day workshop on the topic of “Open Science Methods and Tools for DH Scholars”. This event provided participants with an overview of the Open Science landscape in Austria and Europe, possibilities for Open Science training and funding, Open Science tools as well as the legal framework to consider when opening up research. All presentations and slides shown at this event are of course openly available (here). In the afternoon, the ACDH team organized the Viennese manifestation of an Open Science Café, offering an opportunity for attendees to bring their questions and reflect on the open research culture as it makes sense in their respective scholarly contexts. In addition to exciting conversation and controversial discussions, this also included lots of cake, cookies, and coffee. In the following sections, moderators, facilitators, and information sources for participants of the Café, Monika Bargmann, Susanne Blumesberger, Andreas Ferus, and Martina Trognitz share their insights and experiences about the Viennese Open Café session. 

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Image credit: Britta Breuers ( CC-BY 4.0).

The idea and the format of the “Open Science Café” is coming from the EU Open Science training and advocacy project FOSTER Plus. Open Science cafés aim to create a flexible and welcoming environment  to share experiences and discuss practical questions and pathways to a more open research culture that arise from everyday research practices. As such, the Open Science cafés create an ideal setting to connect various groups, not only researchers but also representatives of journal editors, librarians and data managers and other infrastructure providers who are involved in present-day knowledge creation. During the café, round-table conversations are ignited by statements on a set of cards. Participants can pick a card with a statement related to open science from a pile, talk about this for some time, and then move on to the next card.

The cards served only as starting points to explore how much we all have to share with each other – not only in terms of common challenges or a shared set of values we live by as scholars, but also in terms of future collaborations. The lively discussion allowed us to work with  only a selection of the statements offered by the FOSTER Open Science Café cards. The following statements were among the most controversial issues:

“Open Science training should be mandatory for all PhD students.”

“Researchers only think about research data management if it is imposed upon them.”

“Institutional repositories are essential to obtain full open access to all publications from the institution.”

While we agreed that much more information sharing on Open Science methods is necessary already at the earliest career and education stages, we did not feel that mandating Open Science courses for students would improve the situation. In-depth courses should be offered, but not mandated, while the basics of Open Science methodology need to be taught in introductory courses for all students as given part of general research methodology. Some participants also argued that research data management has already become a vital part of humanist methods and therefore is considered as important by researchers without funders or institutions having to urge them to consider the research data life cycle. Due to this awareness, researchers should also be trusted to choose the best-fitting repositories for their work themselves, rather than mandating the use of institutional repositories; sometimes, other platforms, especially discipline specific repositories, can be a better choice for sustainable data preservation. One of the most important conclusions around Open Science training and advocacy is that it should be well anchored in the disciplinary practices, not as something on top of them but rather as an integral part of research methodology. 

One of the lesser explored areas of Open Science for our participants was the Open Peer Review process. We discussed the multiple ways in which reviewers and future reviewers can open the black box of peer review e.g. via openly sharing the reviews either anonymously or signed or openly commenting on the final version where possible. In connection with the very lively discussion about the role of “prestigious journals” and the definition of prestige, we observed that participants were not yet very familiar with the Open (Access) Journal landscape and the infrastructure already available in this area. The moderators provided input on Open options in these fields and were thus able to spark thought processes.

In general the conversation circled around the aforementioned questions of obligation and voluntariness, availability of information and resources on Open Science, reward systems, and, not least, funding and economic viability. Some of the “brilliant quotes” collected during the discussions reflect these issues:

Reward activities, not only output!

“More money for the institutions, more infrastructure for the researchers!”

Move beyond your own peer group to spread the idea of Open Science!

For the final round of lightning statements, participants were asked to respond to the following statement: 

Open Science is too much talk and not enough action. Tomorrow I will do something that actually contributes to making science more open.

Image credit: Vanessa Hannenschläger ( CC-BY 4.0).

 

While many of us decided to make presentation slides available in open repositories or to publish research data sets, others planned to to explore and discuss possibilities with their colleagues from their disciplines to open up a bigger proportion of their scholarly work or to put a greater focus on open methods in their teaching. 

In conclusion, we learned that researchers from all the humanities disciplines are ready and willing to open up their work; however, incentives and rewards have to be further developed as well as necessary infrastructures and services established and sustainably funded. 

On DARIAH Open, you are always very welcome to share your views about these issues or suggest topics to focus on. If you like the idea of Open Science Café, you can easily reuse the FOSTER toolkit with your own community to explore a range of perspectives and personal experiences about openness in arts and humanities research and to learn how to put things into practice more easily.


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