SFU-led projects

Q&A: Benefits of open science for all SFU academics and shaping the university’s research culture

March 16, 2023

There has been a lot of curiosity surrounding SFU’s Institute for Neuroscience and Neurotechnology’s (INN) work on developing an open science framework at the university.

We sat down with project leads, psychology professor and INN associate director Brianne Kent and INN senior program manager and informatics team lead Kelly Shen, to discuss how open science will help lead to more research funding and create greater accessibility of research by SFU academics.

Brianne Kent, psychology professor and INN associate director.

What is open science?

Kent: Open science is an approach to research that helps tackle a major issue experienced by academics, which is around the accessibility of their work. For example, most peer-reviewed scholarly work sits behind a paywall. This limits its reach and—in turn—the impact that their research findings could potentially have on creating social change.

The most widely known open science practice is open access publication, where scholarly work is freely available for anyone to read. Open access philosophy also extends to openly sharing data, protocols, code, and other research tools and resources.

Kelly Shen, INN senior program manager and informatics team lead.

What motivated your team to lead this important work?

Shen: Through open science, academics are democratizing access to knowledge, which can help address inequities in both research practice and research impact. SFU is already engaging in many open access, open data and open innovation activities. Thanks to the generous support from McGill University’s Tanenbaum Open Science Institute, this project will help unify all of the open science efforts across the university.

How does open science lead to more research funding?

Kent: We are already seeing funding agencies in Canada—and around the world—require the research projects that they support include open science activities, such as data sharing. The federal government’s Tri-Agency funding program requires results from the research that they support be freely accessible online within 12 months of publication.

We are also seeing some academic journals make similar requirements for research that they review and publish. By having an open science framework at SFU, we are helping all SFU researchers be better-prepared and competitive in the changing landscape of research funding as well as helping them publish in top peer-reviewed journals.

What makes the open science work at SFU unique?

Shen: This project is the first in Canada to propose the development of an open science framework for an entire university. We have already engaged a number of open science experts and research stakeholders across SFU, including deans and other senior leaders. Many of them have expressed interest in being active participants in this project and that is very exciting for us. Their enthusiasm speaks to SFU’s continued commitment to sharing the products of our research and innovation.

What ways can SFU academics get involved in helping shape the open science culture at the university?

Kent: This project will include a thorough assessment of the needs, challenges and benefits of implementing open science at SFU. In the first phase of this project, we are hosting broad community consultations that will help us define SFU’s open science principles, how we can successfully implement an open science framework across the university and the resources that are needed to support our researchers with their own open science activities.

Anyone interested in participating in the consultations, may sign up for INN’s mailing list by visiting their webpage for this project. They will be sharing the latest updates, job postings and invitations for stakeholder engagement events.