Be open! Stay open!

I think nowadays there is nobody that has not heard about openness.

But it is not very well defined what we mean by openness. You have to ask yourself several questions until you find your definition of it.

  • In which context are you looking at openness?
  • What role does transparency have?
  • Is openness a synonym for freedom? Why or why not?
  • How can you tell someone else what you mean by openness?

These are general questions that can be applied in almost any situation. If you want to go open yourself you also might want to answer additional two:

  • What do you gain?
  • What do you lose?

As this is quite a big topic I want to tell you in this post where and how I am open and tell you a little bit about openness in science and education.

Openness has to facets for me: Analog and Digital. By analog I mean it in the everyday life and more as a mindset. Compared to digital where I see it in the terms of open software and resources as well as open science.

To be open in your everyday life means: accept others and others opinions. I think also accepting feedback is a big part.

If I can I use open source tools and resources. It is not only a question about money but also about trust. I already talked about the important of data security in the last post. But open tools enable much more as you also make sure that someone else can access your data in the future. Open resources ensure also that any person that is reading for example your next paper can follow your references.

Especially in science openness is very important and sadly enough often times not done. Here is why: If everything would be open, you first of all get feedback on your work. Second your work gets seen more and hopefully also used more thereby cited more. The most important aspect at last: You prevent others from reinventing your work and especially you accelerate science in general as only you have to make the mistakes once. For me publishing also negative results is a big part in openness. If you want to find more information about open science (which not only includes open access but also open data, open peer review and much more) the EU has an agenda until 2024 that can help understanding it [1].

Another aspect why openness is important today is science communication: One thing that has been shown by the corona crisis is the lack of proper science communication and understanding of how and why science works in the general public. Here openness can help a great deal.

But openness is nothing without transparency. One could say they are the same thing. Transparency is key if you want to be successful in being open.

In the end a small note: Not all open resources are great. Tools do sometimes not have the features that you need. Use your brain and good practices as always whenever you are on the internet.

[1] https://ec.europa.eu/info/research-and-innovation/strategy/strategy-2020-2024/our-digital-future/open-science_en


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  1. You raise some very interesting points about openness and the increasing importance it will play, especially in dissemminating the results of scholarly and scientific activity. Differentiating between analogue (mindset/attitude?) and digital (sharing medium) is a really useful one, with the former often overlooked in favour of the, easily – feasibly and reasonably – regulated latter.

    I strongly suspect I missed quite a bit by not being at the synchronous sessions!

  2. Thanks for your reflections. How do you think Aalto could promote openness among teachers and researchers? Should it?

    1. Yes I think Aalto should promote it. First the good scientific practice is a good start and then it has to come from within. Sure can do workshops and so on, but in the end each person has to do it also in there everyday life. If I could give a definite answer to this question in a single blog post comment I would be a genius.
      But talking about openness is a good start.