Remarks on barriers to Open Science for ECRs

Remarks on barriers to Open Science for ECRs
Photo by Suzy Brooks / Unsplash

Yesterday was the first of four listening sessions by the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy. These are specifically geared towards Early-Career Researchers (ECRs), which I guess I technically would still be had I stayed in academia.

I had the opportunity to briefly participate and share some prepared remarks. Sharing those here to document my own thoughts and make them more accessible. The quality of other's input was inspiring.

I've been working on open science for over a decade and did my dissertation on building sustainable scientific systems.

During my PhD I learned that it is the early career researchers who are the ones who end up implementing a lot of the Open Science policies in the everyday.

Publishing preprints? ECRs.
Preparing open data? ECRs.
Creating open source research software? ECRs.

ECRs are handholding the senior researchers in the transition to open science. Yet, when designing policies, there is no training trajectory supporting ECRs to upskill them.

ECRs are self-taught in many open science practices, and that needs to end.

As an example, at my old university, they instituted a data audit procedure, without any training or support in how to prepare the needed data packages. Failing an audit had consequences.

The university's "training" was to phase it in over the next few years, so that people had time to self-train. This is irresponsible and risks harming ECRs in their career by the institution's own shortcomings.

When I finished my dissertation, I had to deliver data packages for each of my chapters, even though it was never properly announced I needed to do this. I was lucky, because I was ahead of the open science curve and had all of these, but to succeed in open science nobody should need to be lucky.