Teaching Open Science in passing: Fostering a culture of collaboration

Image by geralt / 23670 Bilder on Pixabay
Image by geralt / 23670 Bilder on Pixabay

This blog post is the third one of a blog series on Open Science in Higher Education in four blog posts.

In this blog post, I argue for the necessity, next to classes devoted to Open Science, to address Open Sciences practices in passing, as one of the possible (and desired) effects of research-led teaching in which we foster a culture of collaboration.

While Open Science practices are now becoming increasingly established in higher education, there are still very few accounts on how to raise awareness for how Open Science without Open Science being a central component of the class.

Here, I present two ideas to initiate a dialogue on Open Science with the students and maybe even see their materials published in Open Access while still devoting 90% of the seminar time to other things (in my case, linguistics).

Integrating Open Science: Devoting one moment to the reflection

Importantly, the seminar “Grammar in the Digital Age” described in the previous blog post did not revolve around Open Science, nor was Open Science its ultimate goal. Rather, by focusing on the research cycle as a process, Open Science was integrated into the seminar as only one moment in the students’ reflection.

Out of fifteen seminar sessions, I dedicated only one to discussing the Open Access publication of the student’s research projects. Open Science was thus not the main focus of the project. Rather, we implemented Open Science in addition to other research practices such as collaborative data gathering, annotation, and analysis.

And still, the results are very encouraging: 8 out of 10 groups opted for the publication of their academic posters, and 7 groups shared their teaching materials as Open Educational Resources (check the students’ work on our Padlet!).

The students’ high involvement with Open Science even if it was not a central topic of the class shows the potential for more Open Science without redesigning curricula:

Any assignment (an essay, a poster presentation, a handout, a book review, a glossary) can be published in Open Access if the students want to.

There is no need to develop extensively how Open Science works. Rather, present Open Science practices, including general definitions and links to resources, and invite the students to briefly react in a written form to what this means to them and if they would be willing to share their work as well. You can find an example of a handout in German as an Open Educational Resource here (“Block 3- Übertragung in die eigene Berufspraxis – ein Unterrichtskonzept entwickeln”).

Encouraging collaboration, enabling Open Science

As we argue in our qualitative analysis of the students’ reactions (Truan & Dressel 2021), collaboration is key:

The focus on research-in-progress opens up academic dialogue and allows students to participate in the research process, which, in turn, can foster a feeling of belonging and community.

Whereas other, larger-scale, projects prioritize Open Science, the design of this linguistic seminar was guided by collaborative research practices, or, as I said in an interview in German, “The students did not have any other choice but to work collaboratively from the start”.

The focus on collaboration, in turn, generated a discussion about sharing the data and materials produced and analyzed in the seminar. Because the students produced the findings together, they were more willing to publish their materials, as the students felt protected by teamwork and review through their peers (see the solutions discussed here).

Open Science practices can thus go hand in hand with a research-led seminar framework since they provide teachers and students with various opportunities to test out Open Science on a small scale and within the safe space of the seminar.

Rather than teaching Open Science before the participants know what contributing to a research project means, Open Science can be introduced and experienced upon completion of a collaborative research effort, once participants comprehend the practical implications of openness.

Conclusion: Engaging with Open Science little by little

While seminars devoted to experimenting with Open Science remain essential, I argue that research-led seminars where we see Open Science as only one element of the research process present a huge potential on two grounds.

First, for teachers and lecturers still discovering the world of Open Science, as we do, conceiving a seminar around the research process with only one teaching unit around Open Science enables newcomers to engage with Open Science in teaching as well without needing to do it extensively from the onset on. Concretely: less work.

Second, for students, an early exposure has shown to be beneficial, as all students who already had encountered Open Educational Resources opted for the publication of their poster in Open Access. 

The integration of Open Science practices in passing thus contributes to raising awareness on how we do research without directly advocating for Open Science. Placing the research process and its actors — the students — in the center is, in my view, a way to fully acknowledge the students’ participation as researchers.

Want more? Read the final blog post, “Experimenting with Open Science Together: A Critical Reflection”, here.

Cite this article as: Naomi Truan, "Teaching Open Science in passing: Fostering a culture of collaboration," in Ici et là, 02/12/2021, https://icietla.hypotheses.org/2551.

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