Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Updated: April 3, 2017
What is OCSDNet?
The Open and Collaborative Science in Development Network is an IDRC and DFID-funded research network composed of twelve teams from around the world. Each team seeks to understand and explore, within their respective contexts, the factors that promote or hinder opportunities for an ‘open science’ agenda to positively contribute towards development goals.
Research teams are based in Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Jamaica, South Africa, Kenya, Lebanon, Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia, Malaysia and throughout French-speaking West Africa and Haiti. The teams are examining ‘open science’ through the lens of very different disciplines, including law, education, health, IP policy, citizen science, maker-movements and through natural sciences such as water quality and climate change.
The projects officially launched in February 2015 and will wrap up by June 2017.
What are the main objectives of the network?
There are four main objectives of the network, including:
- Supporting new projects if and how open approaches to science can enable research that contributes to development goals in the global South.
- Building a community of open science practitioners and leaders in different contexts, by nurturing an interactive research network.
- Identifying the structural, technical, policy and cultural barriers for individuals and organizations to participate in open science and determine how these barriers could be addressed.
- Contributing to the building of a new and vibrant area of study (Open and Collaborative Science in Development), producing knowledge to inform policy and practice, and a community of researchers who identify themselves as working on OCS.
Why are the 12 projects so different?
Our approach towards understanding open science is largely based on a perspective that looks at the underlying power relations that shape processes of knowledge production and access, and the consequences for development.
This is a new way of understanding open science and thus, a diverse array of projects were chosen to understand the recurring themes that arise, across geographical contexts and disciplines, that promote and hinder opportunities for open science to realise development goals. To date, we have been quite astounded at the similarity of challenges reported by project teams, despite significantly different institutional backgrounds, subject areas and cultural contexts.
Why is Open Science relevant for development?
The production of and access to knowledge is an extremely important currency in the global innovation economy. The majority of high-GDP countries in the world tend to rely on knowledge innovation to propel their economies and to create employment opportunities. However, the majority of these countries have also historically set the rules around how knowledge is created, and who can access it. These rules have been highly exclusive, with the result that the majority of publicly-funded scientific research institutions (including universities) tend to publish in closed journals that cost thousands of dollars to access.
Most Southern universities simply do not have the resources to access these journals. Thus, the knowledge that is produced by Southern institutions is often excluded from publication in ‘elite’ journals. Over the past decades, this system of closed knowledge production and access has privileged a very western-centric worldview, which often fails to acknowledge Southern realities, initiatives and perspectives.
In theory, ‘open science’ provides an opportunity to critique this model, by ‘opening up’ processes of data collection, analysis and dissemination. Moreover, by involving actors from outside academia in knowledge production, scientific questions and goals can be better tailored towards overcoming local challenges that can facilitate opportunities for people to live better lives.
What is different about OCSDNet from other ‘open science’ networks and movements?
Members of OCSDNet are very critical about the rise of concepts such as ‘open access’ and, more recently, ‘open science.’ To date, the discourse in these fields has largely been pushed and shaped by Western actors, who have traditionally controlled the majority of knowledge production and access. Thus, while efforts to ‘open up’ research processes are laudable, most open science proponents still fail to critically consider who is participating in scientific processes and to what extent the knowledge produced is used to address key development challenges.
OCSDNet centres our work around the notion of ‘cognitive justice’ – a concept that envisions a world where all people feel that their knowledge is valuable, valid and recognised. Therefore, our goal is to understand what barriers and opportunities exist for making science more open, collaborative and inclusive.
How can I apply Open Science in my work?
If you are interested in applying inclusive open science in your work, it is important to be cognisant of the power dimensions at play within scientific knowledge-production processes. Oftentimes, it may be quite difficult for a researcher to participate in open science, due to institutional constraints that privilege a traditional, hierarchical and exclusive model of scientific knowledge production and access.
As a starting point, you may consider reflecting on the following questions:
- What is the culture of collaboration and knowledge sharing within my institution and cultural context?
- What is the benefit of working more openly and collaboratively with colleagues both within my field and across disciplines?
- What question(s) is my research trying to address? Whose realities are important for responding to these questions?
- What are the potential benefits of engaging citizens/non-scientists? in this research? (consider both research outcomes and citizens themselves). How could I engage people in a way that is inclusive, ethical and equitable?
- What can I do to ensure that my work is easily accessible to improve processes of scientific knowledge sharing and maximize learning / impact? (for instance – consider open access publishing and look at non-journal options for disseminating research. See Research to Action for some great information.)
Through OCSDNet, we have learned that inclusive open science is mostly a process of constant negotiation and reflection. There is no singular “right way” to do open science, and the process will always differ by context. A key insight is not to focus too broadly on tools and instruments for open science, but more on processes of participation and the actors that access and make use of these tools.
How can I stay in touch with the network?
The easiest way to stay in touch with us is to follow us on social media, via Facebook and Twitter. We regularly share new content from our website, relevant articles about the role of open science in development and updates from the field sent in by our projects.
We generally release external newsletters on a quarterly basis, that include updates about the projects, thematic findings that are emerging from the network, upcoming open science events, network publications and relevant resources. If you would like to stay up to date with our network, please subscribe to our newsletter using the subscription field at the bottom, left-hand corner of our website.
Do you have an interesting blog idea that you think would fit well with the goals of the network? Please do get in touch via info[at]ocsdnet[dot]org and someone will get back to you ASAP!