Open science, done wrong, will compound inequities

Paper by Tony Ross-Hellauer: “Ten years ago, as a new PhD graduate looking for my next position, I found myself in the academic cold. Nothing says “you are an outsider” more than a paywall asking US$38 for one article. That fuelled my advocacy of open science and, ultimately, drove me to research its implementation.

Now, open science is mainstream, increasingly embedded in policies and expected in practice. But the ways in which it is being implemented can have unintended consequences, and these must not be ignored.

Since 2019, I’ve led ON-MERRIT, a project funded by the European Commission that uses a mixture of computational and qualitative methods to investigate how open science affects the research system. Many in the movement declare equity as a goal, but reality is not always on track for that. Indeed, I fear that without more critical thought, open science could become just the extension of privilege. Our recommendations for what to consider are out this week (see

Open science is a vague mix of ideals. Overall, advocates aim to increase transparency, accountability, equity and collaboration in knowledge production by increasing access to research results, articles, methods and tools. This means that data and protocols should be freely shared in high-quality repositories and research articles should be available without subscriptions or reading fees…(More)”.