Gustav Nilsonne has been named a ‘European Open Data Champion’ by SPARC Europe. An Open Data Champion is a person who actively works to make data and results open and helps implement policies on open access within their own organization. We caught up with Gustav for an interview, and here you can partake of his thoughts on open science.

Foto på Gustav Nilsonne - Foto: Adam af Ekenstam

What do you see as the greatest advantages (the impost important motives) for Open Science?

– Open science largely concerns realizing long-held ideals: research should be open and reproducible, and it should be possible to build upon earlier work. Open science increases the opportunities for critical assessment and reuse of research that has been carried out. At the same time it reduces the risk of questionable research practices and distorted results.

What kinds of practical applications within Open Science do you see as the most meaningful for good research practice?

– From my point of view, the most important thing is that research data be preserved and made accessible. If at least the data is kept, analyses and interpretations can be reconstructed and scrutinized.

What do you see as the greatest (most difficult) challenges in practicing Open Science?

– The greatest challenge is that open science doesn’t fit into our merit system very well. It is written artifacts – journal articles or books – that are still counted to a large extent, regardless whether the scientific content in the form of data, materials, analytical code or even the text itself are available and can serve as the basis for further research.

What changes within research politics and the research community could counter these challenges?

– Above all it means a change in culture within the research community. We researchers need to become better at valuing open science in grant applications and in appointments to academic posts. Other stakeholders, such as funders, universities and colleges, learned societies and journals, can work toward this change through their policies.

How and when (at which level – high school, BA, MA, PhD, postdoc, etc.) should teaching about Open Science take place?

– Everyone who tries to understand science can benefit from considering how distortions can appear when researchers work without transparency and detailed peer assessment. This is part of being critical of sources. I think explicit education on methods for open science is most at home where students themselves are beginning to conduct scientific investigations – this could be when working on a thesis or at the PhD level.

Do you have any concrete examples – positive or negative – of where Open Science applications have made a difference (or would have made a difference) in practice?

– There are numerous examples of medical drugs which seemed effective in published clinical trials, but when you also included data from unpublished trials, the conclusion is that they aren’t better, or even less effective. Open science could have prevented unnecessary or harmful drug treatments.