Three markers for open science success

Researchers and society will benefit from more open science; here’s what’s making it happen

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Editor’s note: This month of November, Elsevier Connect is exploring the theme of open science.

Open science describes a more inclusive, collaborative and transparent world of research. In a related story, Gemma Hersh, VP of Open Science at Elsevier, outlines the ways Elsevier is supporting open science through open access, open data, research integrity, knowledge exchange, metrics and more. You can read her article here and share your thoughts.

Here are three key elements that will allow open science to thrive:


Open science means a world of research where people from different areas unite to solve shared problems. Researchers benefit when they can share their expertise and build on each other’s success. In a recent Elsevier Connect story, Dr. Duncan Casey, an Industry Fellow at the Bristol Centre for Functional Nanomaterials and a visiting lecturer at Imperial College London, explained how important this is.

You may have heard the old adage that six months in the lab can easily save you a couple of hours in the library. Keeping on top of the research means you don’t make all the mistakes that others have made. You have some idea of where the cutting edge is.

Dr. Casey uses Mendeley, Elsevier’s reference management software and researcher network, to manage collaborations where projects straddle several different disciplines. “In the Institute for Chemical Biology at Imperial, we had about 80 academics working together,” he said. “If someone new joined, we could drop all the literature into their inbox: Here’s the essential reading list, here’s the recommended list, here’s the cutting-edge stuff – all in different subdirectories.”


There are various ways we encourage transparency, such as supporting the TOP guidelines and enabling the publication of negative results.

Research metrics also play a role. The research community needs metrics that are comprehensive and transparent, presenting a broad perspective on research impact. Metrics can clarify what is meant by “good” or impactful research and help build a base from which to measure research impact in the future.

That can mean showcasing the work of departments that see research included in clinical guidelines long before traditional citations have a chance to accrue, performers whose work will never be cited in the traditional sense, and researchers whose work may not be widely cited but makes a huge difference to local communities.

Dr. Bruce Herbert, Director of Scholarly Communications at Texas A&M University, worked with Plum Analytics to use altmetrics to gain visibility for such researchers. “What happens with these groups is that the impact of their works looks weaker when measured with the traditional tools,” Dr. Herbert explained. “These scholars really benefit from altmetrics because now they have data or evidence of the impact their work has on the world that doesn’t exist in more traditional databases.”


Platforms for preprint sharing, and partnerships to enable green and gold open access, provide more options for researchers to share more kinds of information, allowing more people to get involved in the scientific process. With bepress joining Elsevier, we have a Digital Commons research showcase that covers a broader spectrum of open scholarship, including library-published journals, technical reports, and open textbooks. There are 1,400 published datasets and an additional 32,000 created datasets on Mendeley, and more than 5 percent of Elsevier articles include open data. Our new journal Hardware X opens opportunities for researchers by making lab hardware designs reproducible and crediting the creators.

As Prof. Andrew Barry of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), who published with Hardware X, this year, explained:

HardwareX, with its open-access ethos and rigorous peer review, has established an excellent pathway for different communities to access knowledge and guidance for advanced devices and tools that would otherwise be ‘locked away.’ Researchers … have new opportunities to pursue different scientific questions using hardware that previously did not exist or was, for different reasons, unavailable.

In fact, Elsevier publishes more gold open access articles every year – over 25,000 in 2016 – making it the second largest gold OA publisher.

Exploring open science

Empowering Unconnected Knowledge – Exploring open science

For more stories about people and projects empowered by knowledge, we invite you to visit Empowering Knowledge.


Written by

Ian Evans

Written by

Ian Evans

Ian Evans is Content Director for Global Communications at Elsevier. Previously, he was Editor-in-Chief of Elsevier’s Global Communications Newsroom. Based in Oxford, he joined Elsevier six years ago from a small trade publisher specializing in popular science and literary fiction.


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