How Does One “Open” Science? Questions of Value in Biological Research
Science, Technology and Human Values
This is the author accepted manuscript of an open access aritcle. The final version is available from SAGE via the DOI in this record. Distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)
Open Science policies encourage researchers to disclose a wide range of outputs from their work, thus codifying openness as a specific set of research practices and guidelines, which can be interpreted and applied consistently across disciplines and geographical settings. In this paper, we argue that this “one-size-fits-all” view of openness sidesteps key questions about the forms, implications, and goals of openness for research practice. We propose instead to interpret openness as a dynamic and highly situated mode of valuing the research process and its outputs, which encompasses economic as well as scientific, cultural, political, ethical and social considerations. This interpretation sets up a critical space for moving beyond the economic definitions of value embedded in the contemporary biosciences landscape and Open Science policies, and stress the diversity of interests and commitments that affect research practices in the life sciences. To illustrate these claims, we use three case studies that highlight the challenges surrounding decisions about how – and how best – to make things open. These cases, which are drawn from interviews carried out with UK-based biologists and bioinformaticians in 2013 and 2014, show how the enactment of openness reveals judgments about what constitutes a legitimate intellectual contribution, for whom, and with what implications.
Published online October 3, 2016