Experimenting with Open Science Together: A Critical Reflection

Image by manfredsteger / 99 Bilder on Pixabay
Image by manfredsteger / 99 Bilder on Pixabay

This blog post is the fourth and last one of a blog series on Open Science in Higher Education.

In these concluding remarks, I highlight both the key messages of the qualitative analysis of the students’ positionings and the elements that I could have implemented differently.

Our findings (Truan & Dressel 2021) show that Open Science may be seen as one of the possible (and desired) effect of collaborative research practices. By fostering a critical reflection on Open Science rather than advocating for it, 8 out of 10 groups opted for a publication of their qualitative findings in Open Access.

Despite these positive results, I see two shortcomings in mentioning Open Science only in passing while fostering culture of collaboration, as I argued in this previous blog post.

Should we discuss Open Science from the start?

First, many practitioners usually consider it good practice to introduce Open Science at the beginning of a seminar and to put the focus on Open Science practices prior to any practical applications. In this way, we can deliberately integrate Open Science practices during the research process, for example by documenting collaborative decision-making, rather than upon completion of the research cycle.

In our case, however, the participants reflected on Open Science only once they had produced the academic posters. The teaching design relies on the idea that the participants cannot decide before they go through the entire process and know if they are happy with the result if they want to share their poster with a wider community. Of course, I mentioned the possibility of publishing the poster in Open Access at the beginning of the semester, but for many, the essay on Open Science (the unique session on the topic) crystallized their views on Open Science. 

For the only two groups (out of ten) who opted out of a publication in Open Access, it was difficult to choose whether they should publish the poster in Open Access only once they had created the poster. In order to mitigate concerns regarding Open Access coming after we have generated the research product, a possibility is to integrate the reflection on Open Science before the production of the poster in order for it to be included in the research process from the beginning.

I am not certain, however, that this reverse order would bring the expected results. Indeed, in the second assignment, some participants also reflected on whether they would like their term papers to be made available in Open Access (this reflection was optional). When asked before writing their research paper whether they would consider publishing it in Open Access, most remained cautious. Among the 22 participants, only four said that they are ready to share their term papers in Open Access, and seven might consider it once the term paper has been written. The idea of deciding before the term paper has been written is a stress factor for some participants, and most of them find it difficult to assess whether their term paper will be valuable enough to be shared before publication.

How can we map the research cycle more adequately?

Second, I believe that we could put more effort into mapping the research cycle. Indeed, the seminar design did not devote specific time for the revisions after submission of the poster and feedback from the lecturer.

For this reason, two months after the winter term 2020-2021 was over, and despite the general willingness to publish the poster in Open Access, I had received only two updated posters (out of five groups).

Organizing a poster gallery, which promotes exchange between the groups and allows participants to receive the research of their peers in addition to scholarly engagement with their own digital writing practices, would allow for more collaboration and possibly increase the chance to want to (provisorily) conclude the research cycle with the poster’s publication.

Moreover, planning that the revisions should occur during the semester may increase the submission’s rate. Importantly, the poster was not part of the final grade, as the examination regulations (Prüfungsordnung) did not allow for it.

The conception, facultative revision, and publication of the poster support the empirical term paper, but can still be seen relatively independently of the final grade. Reinmann and Tremp (2019: 260) suggest that the various products of the respective stages of the research process, i.e., the (annotated) corpora, research overviews, and project posters, should be required as evidence of achievement. Integrating both the poster’s production and revision into the seminar’s evaluation might result in an even higher involvement with the materials.

Conclusion: For more chaos in teaching (Open Science)?

To sum up, as we get to see “concrete examples of how research develops” (Pownall et al. 2020), Open Science needs to find its place in teaching, with a shift from the product to the process, and we could argue, the chaos in-between, the mistakes, the collaborations, the human beings.

In teaching in particular, this process-centered undertaking is essential to promote open communication about shortcomings, also known as Fehlerkultur in German (Wagner et al. 2018).

By fostering a culture of exchange and openness towards our own academic journeys and those of our students in our (research-led) teaching, I am confident that Open Science practices will gradually gain importance—little by little, maybe first only ‘in passing’, but decidedly.

This blog post was the last of my series on teaching Open Science. Want to read the previous articles? Check this page!

References cited:

  • Reinmann, Gabi & Peter Tremp. 2019. Lehr-Lernfreiheit, forschungsorientiertes Studium und Prüfungspraxis. In Gabi Reinmann, Eileen Lübcke & Anna Heudorfer (eds.), Forschendes Lernen in der Studieneingangsphase, 255–262. Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-25312-7_17.
  • Wagner, Kai, Maria Bergner, Ulrike-Marie Krause & Robin Stark. 2018. Förderung wissenschaftlichen Denkens im Lehramtsstudium: Lernen aus eigenen und fremden Fehlern in multiplen und uniformen Kontexten. Zeitschrift für Pädagogische Psychologie 32(1–2). 5–22. https://doi.org/10/gjn6wr.
Cite this article as: Naomi Truan, "Experimenting with Open Science Together: A Critical Reflection," in Ici et là, 02/12/2021, https://icietla.hypotheses.org/2560.

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