A Librarian’s view on Open Science – A conversation with Lambert Heller
Bridging Academic landscapes.
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Lambert Heller is a librarian with many years of experience. He works at the Leibniz Information Center for Science and Technology TIB, a non University research organization in Hannover, Germany.
At Access 2 Perspectives, we provide novel insights into the communication and management of Research. Our goal is to equip researchers with the skills and enthusiasm they need to pursue a successful and joyful career.
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Lambert Heller (b. 1972) is head of the Open Science Lab at TIB, the Leibniz Information Centre for Science and Technology, in Hannover.
Lambert Heller studied sociology, political science and philosophy in Bremen and Hannover, and completed a library traineeship at the FU Berlin (including a postgraduate Masters in Library and Information Science at the HU Berlin). After professional positions in Münster and Berlin, and five years as a subject specialist for economics, he founded in 2013 together with Ina Blümel the Open Science Lab at TIB. He is a regular reviewer for the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Deutscher Bibliothekartag (Europe’s largest librarian conference), among others, and is active on several editorial boards. He lectures internationally at the invitation of the Goethe-Institut and the professional associations ICSTI and NFAIS, publishes in professional journals, advises the ISCC Foundation, and is a member of the professional library associations BIB and vdb, the trade union ver.di, and the free Internet radio station ByteFM. And he writes daily as @Lambo on Twitter.
What topics, in particular, would you like to address to our audience? Books sprints, hackathons and barcamps, Decentralized web, Open research infrastructure
Which researcher – dead or alive – do you find inspiring? Hedy Lamarr
What is your favorite animal and why? Donkey, because they’re cute
Name your (current) favorite song and interpret/group: Imagine, Common ft. PJ
What is your favorite dish/meal? Shrimps
Lambert Heller in Nature Index, 2019 („A love letter to your future self“: What scientists need to know about FAIR data)
Jo: Welcome to Access 2 Perspectives Conversations. Today we are talking with Lambert Heller. Welcome, Lambert.
Lambert: Hi, Jo. Thank you for having me. So happy to be on your show.
Jo: It’s a great pleasure. We’ve met a couple of years ago, and we also engage with each other through various open Science events, amongst others, with the German chapter Wikimedia Open Science Fellows program and some other related events. You work in Hannover at the TIB…
Lambert: Yeah, sorry.
Jo: Please go ahead.
Lambert: TIB is the Leibniz Information Center for Science and Technology, a non University research organization and at the same time research library here in Germany.
Jo: Great. The German acronyms and then the English counterpart of the name can be confusing. So thanks for filling us in here. You’ve been engaged also for many years now with open science teams. Could you tell us a little bit about your career transaction and what got you involved in open science? Would you call it a movement or how do you see open science initiatives and activities over the past decade perhaps and today?
Lambert: Very interesting question, Jo. Okay, first, let me try to get the autobiography part right. So what catched my attention? Yeah. Okay. Maybe I can start this way. Around 2005 or so, I lived in Berlin and so there’s a German thing in the German academic library landscape, which is called Bibliotex…. It’s kind of a postgraduate training program to your program where you have at the same time a master’s degree in library and information science, as it is called at Humboldt University in Berlin. And at the same time you practice. So you work as an academic librarian. So this is what I did at that time and together with a colleague back then, Patrick Danowski, who is also still a very active, very creative mind in the library and openness landscape, so to say. Patrick and I, we came up with a label of bibliotheque Swipeongol, which is the German translation for Library 2.0. And the older listeners might remember the Web 2.0 thing, I don’t know if… (Laughter)
Jo: It’s nothing for me.
Lambert: Sorry for that…
So the thing is, people went crazy like 16 or 17 years ago about the thing that they discovered that the web is not only a one directional traditional mass media, but it turns out, okay, people can contribute, can actively participate. And so Patrick and I attached ourselves to this Library 2.0 movement, and we were going crazy about this idea that libraries can be a participative space, too. They can empower users and so on. Okay. This was at that time interesting. And soon after that, I discovered that it’s maybe not so interesting just to think about or mainly to think about the future of libraries, but instead the future of what researchers actually do. So researchers, from the perspective of academic libraries, are our users also. Of course, that’s the same. Right. But so libraries traditionally are in a helping and assisting role. I still identify myself as a librarian. So I have a degree also in social science, but mostly I identify as a librarian. So I’m Super interested in having this typical classical library idea of serving alongside the research cycle to what researchers do. So from gathering information, processing them, coming up with new research data, storing and making accessible the research data, and publishing about them, engaging in multiple forms of discourse and so on and so on, all of this. And so what came on my radar? Fire people like, for instance, Russia Fresik and Zenka Bartling back then who wrote that book Opening Science, which I then contributed to. We were all like, Open access was not even enough. So open access just means that you have digital copies of the traditional Journal paper and make them freely available, which is nice and which is important, but it’s by far not enough. So we have to see the research cycle, the research work as a whole. And back then people thought we were lunatics because they saw no reason why we needed that. We have open access. And this changed a lot. And this is maybe one, I mean, pretty obvious thing about open science that back then it certainly was a crazy idea and a grassroots movement or so. And by now it has changed a lot, obviously. So you have multiple million Euros, heavy policies put in place by the European Commission demanding that you do open science. And if you write a grant proposal, you have to explain how you do open science stuff like this. And you have lots of jobs that have open science in the job title, in the job description, at universities, at libraries, anywhere else. So this changed a lot, certainly. And sometimes you also wonder if it is also good, but maybe we can talk about this separately. But what concerns me a lot about this development is that also big commercial publishers have stepped on this train and use open science as part of their branding by now and sometimes in a highly problematic way. So, for instance, we have companies like Elsevier who do not call themselves a publisher anymore, but an information analytics business. And by that they mean that they have huge digital platforms and they work in a way and they are incentivized in a way. So I will only scratch the surface here, but it’s closely intertwined with this whole system of how the reputation systems and science work today. And that makes sure that the data that people contribute while they work with the data, while they discover things, work with things, and so on, from original research data to Journal publish things, to preprints to whatever that all this data ends up in the hands of Elsevier. And they trade with the data. They do lots of things, lots of stuff that is not comprehensible from the outside, not reproducible. They put it into recommendation algorithms that nobody understands. And this hurts science. So this is really a danger, and it’s highly problematic. And at the same time, these guys call what they do and what they have on their platforms open science. And here you see the tension, right? So on the one hand, it is a super successful concept and I’m glad about this and it’s a great achievement, I guess that we have lots of research data management officers in each and every University and stuff, which is really fine. But at the same time, you must simply have to recognize that people like these big publishers use this term and mean quite a different thing by the term open science.
Jo: Yeah, I agree. And also if you look up the term other than on Wikipedia, there are many different definitions for open science. What’s meant to be inclusive of open science, you said already that it’s more than just open access and that’s already a good thing. We agree. But it should go way beyond. And what we find on Wikipedia is that open science also comprises open source software and hardware, open peer review, open educational resources, open methodologies. Is there any of these principles or pillars of open science that’s particularly important to you as a librarian, where you see that you also have a responsibility as a custodian of research practice and also an ability to serve open science, which might be nothing less and nothing more than good scientific practice at the end of the day. So it’s really nothing new. My definition of open science is to claim back research integrity into the digital era. We have new tools, new platforms, new services, and that makes it difficult and also hard to understand what services, for what purpose. And now we’re aligning the two again, trying to or with the goal of observing, research integrity as we practice science. Is that how you also see it or what do you think of the term open science? What does the terminology of open science and the various definitions bring to mind from your perspective in the library? Ok, that is, I don’t know, I think five questions in one. Good luck, we are all ears.
Lambert: No, I’m fine. We came up last week, just last week with a new idea. We will have the first German Open Science Festival in Hannover. So we do this as TIB together with University of Hannover and their research department specifically. And so look it up, Opensciencefestival.de, so our worldview, so to say, no, but our analysis on what is important right now for open science, you can see it by just looking at the two main topics of our two panels there. So the first one is named Open science is just Science done Right, which is an old slogan of the open science movement and which we still believe it’s true. So this is about okay, as you traditionally expect from science to have integrity, to have an openness about what they actually do, what data they work with, and how they come to their conclusions. So open science is another implementation of this. So there are certain practices now in the age of data science and software based science which implement these core old ideas. Right? Maybe we can agree on that. And the other panel, by the way, is named Who Owns Science? It is about what I already mentioned, that these platforms, as harmless as they seem, would be there to help researchers do their work, communicate their work often work in a quite different direction and that is collecting data and reusing the whole of the data that is collected in ways that cannot be controlled anymore. And this is a political or economic political level, so to say, and we definitely need more sovereignty of researchers and researcher communities themselves. So we cannot allow certain companies to own this apparatus. But we must make sure that we have platforms which make use of open source software and mostly which are understood and driven by scholars and by researchers independently. From my perspective, this is an important new… it depends on how you see it. But this is like a response to a more recent danger that we can see now. Was that even an answer to your question?
Jo: I think so; totally, yeah.
Jo: I think we agree very much. A couple of days ago I spoke with Mark Hahnel, the director of Figshare and he said himself and he also pointed out “I’m the director of this company and I say here openly that I don’t want picture to become a monopoly anywhere in the world or in any sphere of research because that would be healthy.” So basically Figshare sees itself as an organization, as one sector in the ecosystem of open scholarship with a “for profit” mandate or tax system. And also they decided for this tax status for practical reasons, which doesn’t necessarily mean that they are evil as you can see others. But I see what you mean. Also with some of the bigger players like the big five publishers who now write the wave of open science now that it’s become so much accepted amongst the research community. And I also find it threatening or scary the thought that one or few of the publishers’ private entities would rule, which they probably already do and have been doing in the past five or so years, similar to how Google decides what we find on the internet when we do certain searches by keywords. And now the same is happening in the research area with literature searches also proposing what research should be done in the world to get published in certain Journals. This is already what’s making some of us researchers decide to take money the other direction, which also threatens the academic freedom and the essence of what research should be, that is, to serve the society in terms of knowledge acquisition or actually serving purposes in this world.
Lambert: Right. Yeah, I would fully agree. Sometimes it seems that we must remind ourselves what research is ultimately about. So you want to change something for the better in the world in some way or the other. This would summarize it. And this is different from having these self referential games about reputation that can be measured by the number. So everyday researchers are pretty much consumed by these kinds of activities. So make sure that you publish in prestigious places that you have countable citations instead of impacting people’s lives in a way that matters for them as stakeholders of your specific research topic, which might include researchers who site you, but also might include many different other populations, I think we have to remind ourselves what it is for ultimately. And this is then again, the librarian aspect, so to say, or the research infrastructure aspect maybe, is that you can also help and inspire people to think more about their stakeholders, their original stakeholders, reach out to them, allow them to participate, et cetera. And this is what we do at TIB Open Science Lab a lot. So we have lots of activities and projects which are about the transfer of researchers’ knowledge to the real world and vice versa, and participatory projects and so on.
Jo: When you think about the custodian role that libraries play with research management, research data management, or the management of published articles, there’s one way for researchers to publish in whichever Journal. And is it then normally or in a best case scenario, also the case that the library gets a copy of that article, is that still the case in the digital era? That’s one, and then how do you see… Is there a discrepancy between having an institutional repository in the library versus an independent repository like the ones with science open, Figshare, Zenodo? And is there an increasing way? I think there are many discussions and linking those up with each other to make them interoperable systems. But are we there yet? And do you see that as a difficult path to take with more difficulties in the future, or is this something that’s going to be solved rather soon? Again, two questions minimum.
Lambert: Okay, allow me to give two answers to your two questions. First of all, one thing we still do not, maybe still not talk enough about in our space, the caretaking for researchers and their research work. Let’s keep it this way, which is sometimes branded as Open Science or Librarianship is that we have SCI-HUB. And Sci Hub is a powerful and interesting and telling phenomenon. So you certainly hear about this, also all the listeners, I expect that you heard about it already. It is a website run by a lady named Alexandra Elbakyan,
who also worked on the shoulders of many. Anyway, sci-hub is a website or service where you put in a DOI, the unique name of a science publication, and you get back the full text immediately of that text. And statistics show that in many countries, developing world countries, as well as in countries like Germany, the USA and so on, SCI-HUB is used widely by many people because it’s an enormous easy way to get all these things. And of course, as you can imagine, these big publishers we already mentioned before, they try to sue them to the ground and make sure that it is hardly accessible or that it seems as morally problematic or not good to use it. So this kind of conflict that we have here, and it reminds us that having immediate access to all of research, to all of research is kind of I mean, it goes without an explanation why people use this and need this. Right. And this is super interesting. And then we have something different and you already mentioned it. So we have places like Institutional Preprint Repositories. We have repositories that serve a certain community in their discipline, in their topic area. So very traditional; the one who came up with the whole preprint concept back then was Allen Ginsburg, who in the early 1990s started the archive with an ‘x’ in the name, which is by now really worldwide famous preprint repository not only for high energy physics, but for other disciplines as well, who inspired lots of other things in the field, which is in itself also super interesting because ‘Archive’ started long before we had like legal concepts of Creative Commons licenses or policies demanding that you open your preprint. No, it was just researchers doing piracy on their own papers by sharing them before they were published in traditional journals. So this is the root of the super successful preprint movement. Okay, now the question is, where does this lead us? So what will happen? I think one important thing that you mentioned is Open protocols. So by now we have agreed on certain APIs like the OAI Open Archives Initiative protocol for metadata harvesting and others; we have certain ontologies describing very well research publications. And all of this will be helpful to make it easy to get all of the research and to put it in an index in a meaningful way. So in the long run, we cannot leave this to Google Scholar. This is too much of a bottleneck through one company owning this platform again. But instead we have to have a system where it is pretty easy basically to harvest all of research from lots of different resources, from institutional repositories, from disciplinary repositories and Journal platforms, whatever, and to do interesting things with them because we will constantly have new ways to see research and context and make it possible and interesting new ways to discover research and to understand research in a digital context.
Jo: This reminds me of Open Knowledge Maps by Peter Kracher, whom we also both know personally, and how they now have an institutional product, so to say, where institutions can actually do that which you just described to scrape and mirror content that’s published anywhere online in Open Repositories and have like one interface where they can showcase all the research that’s coming out of the institution, which is quite basically reclaiming ownership of what the institution has originally also invested in by providing the salaries for the researchers, the equipment with the research equipment. And now it doesn’t really matter anymore where the researchers publish, if it’s through the library and institutional repository or directly to a publisher or independent repositories. Is that a role where you see yourself and your colleagues to also collect the information that’s being scheduled around the Internet and try to collect it back to the institution again?
Lambert: Definitely. We help researchers and specifically also research institutions. We help them to manage their knowledge and make it accessible in multiple useful ways. So I think that Peter Kracher’s initiative is really like a picture book example of what you can do with all the data. I want to mention another one, which is in a way something we contributed to for many years and with our hearts at the TIB open science lab, which is Vivo. So we care about these systems that help research institutions to deliver stupid, boring things like reports on their research activity. Because every time you receive money from, for instance, the research science Ministry of your country or from grant givers of any kind, you have to report on what you spent the money on and what is actually the outcome. And you want to have beautiful researcher profiles where you can see the activity of your institutions, researchers in the full context. And this is where Linked open data ontologies and open source software under the umbrella of Vivo comes into. So we teach people that you do not need to look at proprietary publisher platforms to do that, who sometimes in some cases and some activities help you with this as well, but that you can do this by yourself and for yourself using the power of open data, open ontologies and open source software. So this is a huge worldwide consortium who contributes by now also including we made this popular thing in Germany as well, including Germany, and who make use of these open approaches towards management of institutional based research outcomes, of researcher profiles and such.
Jo: Yeah, that’s really uplifting to hear that there are not only moral concerns and opportunities, but there’s actually technical access points that researchers can use themselves to keep ownership claim back ownership of their own research output. And so basically the idea is to connect it to a global knowledge base in a way that’s beneficial for everyone. Really?
Lambert: Absolutely. And it also reacts to one thing. This also connects to one thing we earlier talked about which is the sovereignty of researchers in their community because as obvious as it might look, when some websites ask you to make a list of your research outcomes and then give you certain categories what kind of research products or outcomes you might have, it’s not that obvious. But instead, this is a very subtle question. So who comes up with these ontologies describing what is even imaginable or what counts as a research outcome. So these ontologies should be in the hands of researcher communities. And I know this is not everyone’s favorite topic. It’s a very nerdy question. But there are certainly people, as you can see when you walk through the office floor of the open science lab, who love to work in this kind of research infrastructure, and who wrap their brains around these types of questions and engage in an exchange with researchers to find out, okay, how do we best describe what is the skeleton so to say for the data that describes what a research outcome is, and that there’s more than just a Journal article or so. Sorry for the addition, but it is important to say.
Jo: No, it’s important. Thanks for adding this.
Okay. I also want to jump back to an earlier question you raised. Who owns the research? Who owns research data? This is also a question I often ask participants on research data management courses I take. And then people tend to be puzzled about that. They’ll be like, ‘well, I thought it was my data,’ but then again, I was like ‘who paid for you working on this? Like acquiring the data in the first place. And where did you get the funding from, who provided the equipment? And do you have anything written in your work contract? What happens once you leave the University? Can you still access it?’ So that’s also an incentive for the researchers to publish the heck out of their research, to be able to access their own data after they left University or research institution because they might actually lose access once they leave, because they can’t access the institutional repositories anymore from our site. And if they’ve published, then others, but also themselves, ourselves, can access the data limitlessly.
Are there more stakeholders you can say who own research data or research output? Could be the library, the institution, University, the funder, the researcher, and probably all of them have a stake on the data. The publisher, also, once it’s published, is it owned by the publisher? If you transfer the Copyright, certainly the text, but also the data that’s in the text or in the supplements, I think we should look closely at the contract and the agreements we sign into.
Lambert: Absolutely. Since Copyright is heavily used by publishers to convince researchers to give away the control about their publication, that they have put in so much work into. And also, it’s still super important in a way to teach researchers that they must not subscribe to these contracts, but instead that they can do different things with their publications. And one thing that is at least as important from my perspective is to remind people that Copyright policies and Copyright law, whatever you think about them or in Germany, it’s just different from Copyright. But anyway, so whatever you think about this, there is lots and lots of important, very important basic stuff happening in research which is not covered by these policies at all because facts cannot be copyrighted and raw data, research data itself is just the digital twin of effect. It cannot be copyrighted. It’s a public domain. And let’s just be honest and clear about this. And every time we use it in digital ways or so, research data, we must be sure that it is not grabbed by people claiming they can own it because they can’t and they shouldn’t. So it’s data. And you can also learn it when using things like Wiki data, which is not a database for original primary research data. But still, it’s an interesting fact that they made it a policy that everything that enters their system is clearly labeled as public domain, which is quite an interesting decision and should be a positive example and leading example for anybody else. And indirectly, you can also use Wiki Base software behind Wiki data for your research data. My colleague Losanna Rosanova just last week wrote a super interesting blog article series about this approach and the TIB blog. And what’s more, Jo?
Jo: I just wanted to ask, can we put the link to the blog article?
Jo: So listeners, you will find this in the short notes. Thank you.
Lambert: Absolutely. So we came across a lot of this stuff, not only in the narrow field of research data, but also more broadly, also for cultural heritage, for instance, which is quite a little bit different. But still, let’s assume you have an oil painting from the 19th century or so and you digitize it in high resolution. Also, who owns this photo? Clearly, no one owns it because it’s just a reproduction without any creative new thing in it. And it’s just there and its a fact and its data and its public domain. And so this is something we care about a lot. And we must somehow, since our world is very much structured by these rules of Copyright laws and stuff like that, we have to celebrate this and really teach people about this, that things can be free in the digital world. I mean, it sounds a little bit funny if you think about it, that you have to convince people about this. But it’s important because it’s the basis, the very basis of experimentation and rich work and new ways to contextualize and come up with new ideas to have all of this, the raw data from the genomic sequencing of some animal, but also the digitization of the oil painting from the 19th century, all in the public domain.
Jo: Would it still be necessary to cite the original painter, or would this just be a moral concern that it would be nice to add, but it’s not necessary?
Lambert: So this is super important. And here, from my perspective, it is super important to make the differentiation between what the law requires, where you have always in some way or the other, state power, government power in the background that you need to enforce it actually, on the one hand, and on the other hand, let’s say morals or culture. So there’s a very strong culture of referring to one’s other work. And if you do not do it properly as a researcher, you can easily lose your career. So if somebody finds out that you make use of someone else’s data without pointing out that it’s not your own, but it’s from exactly the source, it can easily cost you your career. And this is not at all about the law. Let’s be very specific about this. Copyright doesn’t help in this regard, but it’s just to say as if it is less worse than but no, really, it’s just things that we teach each other and which we share and have a tradition about and the way we work and we play with data.
Jo: Yeah, I’m asking this also. So the answer would be you wouldn’t have to cite the painter, but it would be recommended on moral grounds…
Lambert:. …because your community expects you to do so.
Lambert: This is exactly it. And for a good reason. They expect it from you for a good reason. And that’s it. Yeah, mostly. And then you have again, okay, this is then again mirrored in technicalities of it. So for instance, you have by now easy means to refer to things. So for instance, in the digital world, you should make sure that every photograph of an oil pointing and every research data set has a persistent URL and has good metadata coming along with it and so on. And this then makes it really super easy with the click of a button to refer to it explicitly.
Jo: I’m also asking this because when it comes to research data, there is a tendency towards making research data public domain accessible wherever possible, whereas for text and manuscript there’s more connection towards Copyright and acknowledging of the work that went into creating the text and the brain work, really. But that doesn’t seem to apply so much for data sets. And yet many researchers would argue there’s so much work that went into creating this data set in the first place, and then also adding all the metadata, which then only makes it valuable in the first place. Why would we publish this on CC Zero, a public domain? And then again, like many research data repositories say we only offer CC Zero for data and at maximum, maybe CC by, but we really recommend for you to use CC zero also to make it easily adaptable by other researchers. So there’s a reason for either or. But then in my conversations, I find many researchers reluctant to share their data at all because they only have the option for CC Zero and they see, oh, I won’t receive any attribution for all the work that went into it. People won’t cite it. However, these CC Zero only repositories say, please make an extra effort in citing the originators of these data sets nonetheless. So basically I’m asking is there really a necessity to differentiate between CC By and CC Zero when it comes to research data? What’s your take on that? And I don’t have a conclusive answer myself, so I wouldn’t expect any of you.
Lambert: Okay. First of all, I find it kind of problematic to claim CC by about your research raw data set, because in a way I would claim it’s not really yours…
Jo: The data set that is yet published is normally secondary data. So that has been processed and commercialized and all of that.
Lambert: Yeah. Good point. So you make the point, as far as I understand your thing here, that you have put actual work into it. So you processed it in a way in order that it can even be published in a meaningful way. Yeah, right? That’s true. I get the point. I fully get the point. And still I doubt that it is appropriate and even what you really want to apply the CC by. So applying the CC by to you as a person means an explicit word that if I come across anyone who uses this without referring to me in a proper way, I might hire a lawyer and enforce this. And this is hardly what you want to say. What you want to say is you want to communicate, hey, I expect everyone to apply these rules that we have as a community about referring to each other’s works. This is about the level of applying for a Creative Commons license. We can argue about this. I want to make a different statement which seems on the first look unrelated to this, but this is super important to discuss from my perspective in this context. And this is that working as a researcher means to work on a common good. And this is in many cases it’s people’s fulltime job, literally. And we should make sure this is super important that the working conditions are right and that you get paid for it. This is super important. So with the Ispanhana debate in Germany last year, we hopefully got a little bit more attention on this at last. And it is not so important to focus on the concrete outcome of what you do in the lab. Okay. You come up with this big data file and with proper metadata data and so on. And is it really this what you should get something back for? Is it more like you work on a common good? And I think it’s super important to recognize that it’s more the latter because in many cases, just to mention one example, you have lots of good and super meaningful and super necessary research which ends up in negative results which hardly get referred to anywhere because it’s just not necessary. It was just necessary that somebody tried and they ended up with a negative result. They published the negative result. So what they get is hopefully good working conditions from the community, from all of us, so to say, that made sure they can do this kind of research. This is the way this work should be supported and incentivized and so on. So this is systemic, right? So this cannot be covered or incentivized by things like references. You get my point.
Jo: I totally get your point. Thanks for exploring this. Also this extra step totally makes sense, and I try to summarize and contextualize it from my end to hopefully make it accessible again. I’m not saying it wasn’t accessible from how you pictured it. For me, the question that we’re trying to address here is what determines success and research, which then leads also to career advancement by the researcher. And what I proposed was also attribution CC by license versus public domain research output, is the CC by author allowing our research output to be countable, meaning by how many citations do you get for that output? Which again feeds the John impact factor narrative, which we try to avoid, whereas it’s rather more important what you put in the CVS. These are the things that I’ve published of my research, which are not necessarily only manuscripts that land in prestigious journals and as many as possible, but rather I’ve published a data set, I’ve published a registered report, I’ve published preprints, which may or may not have alternative metrics scores to them, which also shouldn’t matter because that’s not a level, I think it’s not a measure of quality, but also at metrics is still only about quantity. How many people have picked up on this headline and forwarded and posted about it on the Internet? So then also, according to SF DORA, the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment, it’s more important to us as researchers because, like you said, we work on public domain questions and many researchers work towards societal benefits and nowadays also very much environmental benefits to secure life on this planet for future generations. So therefore, it shouldn’t really matter. It shouldn’t be numerical or measurable rather than have quality research and make that research accessible so that we all as humankind can learn from each other. And that sounds very morally driven, but also why not? That’s what we’re here for. Is that what we can conclude from the past ten or so minutes?
Lambert: I think so. And the interesting thing from my perspective is that in this economy of the Commons of the public domain, there is actually a lot of research being done about this and there’s a lot of knowledge that mankind has gathered around us. So if you look at the work of the Nobel Prize winner back ten years ago, so Elinor Ostrom, right. So she wrote a lot about it, and we have to remind ourselves. So there are rules and things you can learn about how to make use of a public domain. From my perspective, as you just said, it’s pretty easy to see and to understand why this concept applies to research anyway, and that this makes sense as a perspective to it. This is not about claiming moral high ground that is superior to anyone else. This is not the point, but it’s just a very pragmatic worldview and understanding of what research work really means. And it’s super on spot that you mentioned the San Francisco Declaration on Open Research Assessment. You could also mention the Light manifesto. Also, these are policies that make sure that at least on the most important decisions that are met by research institutions, universities, research institutions of any kind, like hiring people, professorships, grant making decisions, and so on, that on these important decisions, this reputation number game should be kept out and that you even since it’s so popular to make these counts, like how often I was cited and so on, you even need to have an explicit policy that communicates very well and very clear to all the stakeholders that this has nothing to do with the decision making within and for the research community. And this is a huge effort and I can just recommend mostly anyone to have these discussions within your research institutions. Why do we not subscribe to the SF DORA or Light manifesto? And if we already described, are we really serious about this? Do we really apply this in practice? It’s super important.
Jo: So now we’ve mapped out the benefits and moral grounds for open science and research integrity. Maybe having a side step towards the difference between fair and open and also are there limitations that you see again, from your perspective, from a library viewpoint or librarian viewpoint, other limitations for open science or openness within open science, like what kind of research output should not be published or not yet? Perhaps talking about premature data that can easily be misinterpreted. How would you respond to questions asked about that? Because I feel that many researchers feel insecure about okay, ‘do I now have to put everything I do online and have the world watch me as I conduct research on many sensitive topics?’ Or where does openess end, like what is the limitation to open science?
Lambert: I love your questions, Jo. I’m really in awe because this is really a collection of all the tough and high level questions that you have. As you already know, I don’t have the answer on that one.
Jo: I think everyone needs to define the limitations themselves, but I can point out a few sensitive data. Obviously you won’t put patients’ data on endangered animals and plant species that can otherwise be a victim to predators. Or what’s the word like for people who kill them for economic reasons?
Lambert: Absolutely. No, I share your point and I think we need a digital culture, especially when we ask folks about personal information on them, which is important in many areas of research. Think medical research, think social Sciences, and so on. Where I came originally from. We need to have a culture that makes sure that people make real decisions on their own about this, what they want to share and to help them to understand how things are used. So I’m really not in the camp of people who say this whole GDPR thing is just a distraction from the important, valuable work that we do. No, really, we have to have digital means that make sure that people understand how their personal related information, how it ends up in research and is being used in research. Super important question. Not exactly the main focus of my work right now at TIB Open Science Lab, but still. Yeah.
Jo: Thank you. Okay. We’ve also met I think three times I participated in the Open Science Bar camp this year. Sadly, I couldn’t join because I gave a course the same day. But you’re in the organizing team. Can you share what the spirit of the Open Science Bar camp is? How it’s fascinating how you came up with the idea to put something like this up. And I was being copied also, I think not only in the Netherlands, but there’s a chapter in the Netherlands that I think also yearly or biannually. And the Open Science Barcamp has been on like before as a pre event before the Open Science Conference. Is it for five years now or more?
Lambert: I think more like eight years. But I’m not sure.
Jo: I was late for the party. Sorry.
Lambert: Don’t worry. It’s a very basic, maybe very obvious idea. So the idea is to say traditional events, academic events, at least work like you set up a program where you have people standing in front of many other people and talking to them. And this is maybe not the best way to transfer knowledge, to allow people to learn to come up with new ideas and such. So often it feels like at traditional conferences that some of the most important by far exchanges happen in between the sessions. Officially on the floor of the event side. And this barcamps are about to correct this. So it’s an event that supports a community and just have a meeting of people who are concerned about the same type of questions or who engage and work with the same resources in the same field and which gives them a space and help them to structure the space. So all of you meet, everyone is asked to give an idea or make a proposal on what to have a quick session about. And if you find out that a few other people are interested in the same topic, you have that quick session, then you have another session. So everything is planned on site, right on spot. At the moment you have maybe nowadays real time collaborative note taking of each session and such. And in reality, it’s often a mixture with a traditional format. So for instance, at the Open Science Park, we also have keynotes. This year it was super important for us to invite someone from Science for Ukraine to tell us about what their approaches are to help refugee researchers who are somehow harmed or interrupted also in the way they work as researchers and stuff like this.
Jo: Okay, well, thanks for that important work. Also, I can’t tell you so much. I offered two sessions during the past barcamps when I attended on multilingualism, and I know that we both are also interested in the topic and I got hooked to it. So now I’m also in conversations with colleagues and action groups. With Africarchive, we’ve launched a program with partners Masakana, Lynx and Sea Communications, South African organizations, all of them to translate research articles into lay summaries and from there into African languages, six of them for 180 articles. So what started as a brainstorming session at the Open Science Bar camp has now transitioned to actual hands on initiative for me and many others. Lambert: Fantastic to learn about this.
Jo: It’s really inspirational in the way of engagement. What the Barcamp format provides is really captivating and also allows, like you said, for the necessary exchange and knowledge exchange and personal exchange between individuals who all share one of the other interests. Lambert: Yeah, it’s an important aspect to it.
Jo: Do you have any favorite topics that you’ve observed that evolved in the barcamp sessions that you’ve always been a co organizer. Is there something that stands out for you from the organizational viewpoint, or have you been engaged yourself in some of the discussions which influence your work one way or the other? If there’s nothing like, don’t worry about it if there’s nothing you can pinpoint to. I just wanted to acknowledge also the space that you and your colleagues provide with this format.
Lambert: I must say, it’s really hard for me to say because somehow this problem now, to answer your question, reflects on the thing that if you organize a Bar camp, you are sometimes so consumed by this fulfilling this role that you end up being very superficial with the actual content, the actual conversation happening. I guess that’s the price of it, right? So someone has to have this role, but I invite you seriously to have a look at the path. So we kept collaborative notes of the sessions, and most obviously next year, hopefully we meet again in person at Wikimedia, Germany’s headquarters, like traditionally in Berlin. And it’s much more fun to have this kind of event as a physical event. Right. So as you know, this also has to do with building trust within the community and having a more human way to learn and so on. So we learned a lot from these two Barcamps, where we had to do everything online, and it’s important to have all of these memes in place and make the best use of them. And then again, still, it’s a super perspective, and I’m super happy about the idea. At least I can imagine having a physical back end again in a physical space.
Jo: Yeah. Maybe hybrid to some degree. Lambert: Maybe hybrid. Yeah, sure. Why not?
Jo: Because this year a colleague of mine from Africarchive was able to attend because it was online. Otherwise for him from Kenya it would have been difficult to come to Berlin. So that’s another pro on the virtual asset. And I think Hybrids is also becoming more and more manageable now that we’ve all specialized in virtual events out of necessity and realized it’s actually not as difficult as you might have thought before. Right. Okay. Maybe before we conclude just one small excursion into the CCC, I would say galaxy rather than ecosystem. The Caos Computer Club is a German, very nerdy community. I think they’re also formalized in an NGO status and they are prime and they organize events or biannual events, one of which is a caos computer conference where we also participated in one. Well, I think I’ve been there once, maybe twice I can’t remember. And it was quite an experience. So I’m sure you’ve attended more than once. What do you see? Academics? What is the original nature of the Computer club events and how can scholarship learn and contribute to such events? And what is the intersection?
Lambert: Again, super interesting question really. So let me first quickly point out that, the Caos event where we two met. Johanna was super important to me also because of another thing that happened. So I met Claudia Frick, who I knew earlier. We knew each other earlier, but we met there and also Helen Kowser. And so Claudia came up with this idea for fashion storm so have a look, German listeners at least. This is a streaming show on, broadly speaking, scholarly communication and open science and everything that we have frequently each month on Twitch. And it’s a live video streaming format, so often very playful. And have a look at it, please. And then more in general, why is that? Why do you meet people there like Jo and like Claudia and come up with good ideas? I think it’s kind of an explosion of ideas and creativity and from the culture of these events that assume not so much and try to offer diverse access points to certain questions and topics that we have in common. Research communities can learn a lot from it, and I see it already happening. I mean, there is a lot of experimentation on how you approach certain things. So what is maybe on the first glance not directly computer caos event related, but which I see in the continuum of experimentation with events and other forms of learning also is what Conner Kosner and other colleagues are doing with also Katrina Langler former TIB colleagues do in the space of data Carpentries and software Carpentries, where they came up in a grassroot like approach with a style of teaching where you within one or two days or so can learn a lot as a researcher on how to keep your data tidy and keep a good overview of what is happening with your data, how you can easily get into automating things around your research, data and stuff. And I like the approach because it’s not like this kind of okay. Computer science degree with specialization in data science is required. Also quite the opposite. It’s just like inviting everyone who’s interested in a space that is very carefully crafted and trainers who know a lot about from first hand experience how this learning takes place about these topics and to help you to get an enhanced approach to get you to engage with your data in a different way. And I would claim it’s inspired by the hacker or nerdy universe in some ways. I don’t know how you feel about it. People like Katrina or Conrad, you may correct, or Lenalu from TIB, you may correct me about this, but to me it feels like there’s a connection between the two.
Jo: Yeah, I agree. And just for the listeners who have not heard of the custom computer club culture and organization, they’re mostly safe guardians of the internet. So they’re also like many hackers in a positive sense. So they often also act as consultants for the government when there is a cyber attack, here or there because they know the inside and outside of anything. Digital ecosystem, digital infrastructure and how the internet, the darknet intertwined, where to draw the line, what’s legal, what’s illegal. Pushing the boundaries between open source, closed source, more towards open nothing that’s also the intersection with open science and open source. It’s not an overlap, but there’s a transaction between the two movements. And I think John and some others, I don’t know if you were so involved in that article at some point. I also contributed to that paper to compare to analyze where the open source movement came from and how then the open science movement docked into that evolution and learn from it and how the two movements or ecosystems can inform each other in exactly a sense that you described of what the Caos Computer conference and other events provide for engagement and exchange of knowledge and experiences. Great.
Yeah. Any concluding remarks? It’s difficult to come to a conclusion after such a rich and insightful discussion. Thank you so much for that, for sharing these thoughts on so many different topics.
Lambert: Thank you. It was a pleasure. Maybe one very last thing that I would like to mention at the very end. So another format that is somehow inspired by the hacker ETOs maybe or hacker practices or so which I engage in is box sprints. This is another thing. So where you have like the concept of inviting experts over for a few days, just for three or five days together physically at one space, and you guide them through the process of writing a textbook or a guide on their area of knowledge in a very structured, well structured way, result oriented. And people are always very often amazed by how this works and that you do not need to write educational or introduction materials or handbooks in this way that you isolate yourself from another and sit at your own desktop, at home or in the office, but instead to meet and have this as an Hi process. And it’s a lot of fun and a super interesting experience. So I did this several times now, and I can only recommend it if you have the need for a guide or textbook from your field or so please consider having a book Sprint on it. It’s an interesting experience at least, and it’s highly productive.
Jo: Some people again, postulated some years ago, a massive open online course. Yeah. Which then turned into a community. But it was called Massive Open Online manuscripts or Publications, MOOPS. We put this on the show notes, you can look it up, which I think works along the lines that you described for the book Sprint. You can also use that for research manuscripts.
Lambert: Yeah. When you have a large community and invite everyone a little bit like Wikipedia or so other rules apply and it’s a little bit different, but still, it’s also great. So with the book sprint, the special thing is that you set a small team of experts by inviting them. But anyway, it’s super interesting to think about Wikipedia and Wikipedia, like editorial processes as well. Yeah.
Jo: Thank you. Okay, I’m looking forward to our next conversation just to set the stage for follow up. Whenever you’re ready, maybe two, three words around what’s next for you. What other projects are you currently working on if you cannot reshare? or Yeah. And how do you see the not so far future for open science? What’s the next big chapter?
Lambert: Oh, yeah, good question. So one thing that I have in mind for this year is we will have a hackathon on 3D data in this NFTI space. So the National Research Data Infrastructure Program. This will be interesting, but we have not come out yet with the ‘save the date’, but hopefully soon we will. That’s what happened this year. And to have these hackathon like events for such official funded kind of activities like the NFTI in Germany. I think it’s super important also to get people to learn how learning and transfer of knowledge today really happens and why things like hackathons. And here we are again with the hacker ETOs and caos things and so on. But while this is really not just a funny marketing event but really meaningful, this is something that I’m currently thinking a lot about and working on. And another thing more in general is what we talked about also at the very beginning. So I see myself as part of a community that is increasingly people who have it somehow in their official job description that they do open science. And then again, I’m really concerned about that. We share a vision and open up to discuss maybe also problematic things that happen and around us, like for instance, data grabbing of publishers. And so there’s no easy resolution to that. Right. But this is something that I’m thinking about quite often and maybe this podcast was also a super nice opportunity to discuss this openly and reflect on this so I value your work, Jo, also as an active member of this community and this is really valuable to have these conversations out in the open. Thank you a lot for having me so that we have this opportunity to talk it through.
Jo: Yeah. Thanks also for sharing your thoughts on this. It’s also valuable for me and I always learn a lot with every guest. So it’s also a manifestation of what I personally consider as important to consider when we talk about open science and again, my world and viewpoints expand every time with every conversation. Thank you. Great. Okay. So up to the next episode for the listeners and see you soon online and hopefully also in real life.
Lambert: See you. Yeah.
Jo: Or for a coffee when we meet you in Berlin or Hanover.
Lambert: Definitely. Definitely. Yeah.
References (related research articles)