[open-science] "open science" definition?

Jenny Molloy jcmcoppice12 at gmail.com
Thu Oct 9 14:43:18 UTC 2014

Hi Tom

There are probably as many definitions of open science as people you ask,
I've been in several workshops where debates have gone (and on!) about what
the term encompasses. I think the major complication is that the Open
Definition addresses outputs, be they data, publications, code or other
knowledge 'objects' to which licences can be applied.

Open science as used by many people also encompasses open process -
openness to participation and transparency at different steps of the
discovery process and therefore also addresses issues such as inclusion,
modes of collaboration, democratisation of science and a host of other
factors which are really difficult to define.

This question came up on this list back in 2011 and you can read the
responses then [1]. There was no consensus but some insightful points.

Some definitions/typologies I know of:
Michael Nielsen: “Open science is the idea that scientific knowledge of all
kinds should be openly shared as early as is practical in the discovery
process.”  [2]
Research Information Network: “science carried out and communicated in a
manner which allows others to contribute, collaborate and add to the
research effort, with all kinds of data, results and protocols made freely
available at different stages of the research process.” [3]
Fecher and Friesike describe five schools of thought that all fall within
open science [4]

There are current efforts to draw together more information on open science
across community groups so I think it is a good time to revisit the
question and ensure some clear information is out there but I don't think
the concept is amenable to a definition a la the Open Definition. Others
may disagree!

If anyone has a favourite or go-to summary of open science that they find
useful, please do share with the list.


[1] https://lists.okfn.org/pipermail/open-science/2011-July/000901.html
[2] https://lists.okfn.org/pipermail/open-science/2011-July/000907.html
[3] Open to All? Case studies of openness in research. Retrieved from

On Tue, Oct 7, 2014 at 7:09 PM, Tom Roche <Tom_Roche at pobox.com> wrote:

> Apologies if this is a FAQ, but I'm not finding an answer with casual
> DDGing:
> Folks on the main list will be aware of the recent release of the latest
> "Open Definition"[1] (and its discontents[2]), which is (in this context)
> an open-data definition[3]. I'm wondering, is there a definition of open
> *science*, suitable for similar reference use, that is either
> * an OKF product, in the manner that it sponsors the "Open Definition"
> * OKF-recommended: e.g., generated elsewhere bu pointed to by OKF documents
> * recommended by folks on this list (i.e., feel free to advocate)
> ? I'm assuming an open-science definition would, at a high level, be
> relatively straightforward (since I would claim that
> * open science ~= open data + open procedures for its processing
> * "data" comprises both inputs to, and outputs/results of, a given study,
> since the results of one study typically/hopefully become inputs to another
> ), but I could be missing something. (And of course much could be added,
> e.g., regarding the importance of reproducibility.) Though straightforward,
> I would also advocate that a well-grounded, portable definition of open
> science is at least as important as one for open data, since (IMHO) the
> primary justification of open data is that it enables open science.
> TIA, Tom Roche <Tom_Roche at pobox.com>
> [1] http://opendefinition.org/
> [2] thread starting
> https://lists.okfn.org/pipermail/okfn-discuss/2014-October/010603.html
> [3] "'Open knowledge' is any content, information or data that people are
> free to use, re-use and redistribute — without any legal, technological or
> social restriction"[4], and the distinction between "content, information
> or data" is superfluous in the scientific context.
> [4] https://okfn.org/opendata/
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