• Open science

The Open Science mission

Open Science is a movement to make scientific research data available and directly accessible to any interested party. By increasing transparency and enabling access to important knowledge, scientific progress can be improved in both quality and speed, while proving fair and equal access to important sources of scientific data. It encompasses practices such as publishing in open access journals or providing funding to pay for open access fees, encouraging scientists to practice open science by using electronic lab notebooks, and making it easier to publish and communicate peer-reviewed scientific knowledge. While there are exceptions to what can be shared as a result of legal restrictions (e.g. personal patient data and patentable research), most research data are perfect candidates for sharing and provide a rich source of knowledge that has yet to reach its full potential.

 Open Science principles

Maastricht University endorses the principles of Open Science and offers its academics support to put these principles into practice to make science "as open as possible, as closed as necessary". The Open Science umbrella covers topics such as:

  • FAIR data use: Whenever possible, research data must be Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable.
  • Open Access: Promoting free online access to scientific information, such as publications and data. In this model, the author pays, not the reader.
  • Recognizing and rewarding scientists in a different way: Scientists are usually judged by their publication output and the research grants they have acquired. Open Science also stands for recognition and appreciation of other issues such as educational activities, leadership qualities and social impact.

Open Science in MERLN

MERLN is adopting these principles as well and Dennie Hebels, one of our project leaders, takes part in our faculty’s Open Science Community as an Open Science Ambassador to spread knowledge on Open Science, answer questions, and give advice. Within MERLN, he has developed a data management strategy based on the use of electronic lab journals and data organization basics. The goal of this is not only to make it easier for researchers to find and organize their data, it also documents research results according to current data management requirements from funding agencies and makes it easier to share data according to the FAIR guidelines.

Open Access publishing and data sharing

Open Access publishing goes hand in hand with the principles of Open Science and MERLN strives to make as many publications as possible freely accessible for other researchers around the world. In our Publications overview, these papers are designated with the Open Access symbol. No journal subscription or connection with a university network is needed to access these papers' contents.

Over the last 6 years, we have steadily increased our percentage of Open Access publications, which is a result of several factors:

  • MERLN's Open Science mission to share our research as much as possible.
  • Grant agreements that require Open Access publishing (often associated with additional funding to cover potential article processing charges).
  • Agreements between Dutch university libraries and traditional academic publishers that make Open Access publishing more attractive by offering it for free or with a substantial discount.
  • The Taverne amendment in the Dutch Copyright Act that allows us to provide access to paywalled publications via our library's Research Publications repository.

Enabling free access to papers is only the first step in Open Science. In order to make our science truly open, wherever possible, we aim to share our research data as well. These data may be included with the papers themselves in the form of supplementary data, but we also deposit data in freely accessible data repositories such as Dataverse. MERLN has its own data container in Dataverse where we will continue to publish data sets to accompany our Open Access papers. All data sets are assigned their own digital object identifier (DOI), ensuring its findability and unique identification.

Secure data archiving: DataHub

DataHub is the data-archiving repository of Maastricht University and MUMC+. It allows for safe storage of (non-)clinical data and is mainly intended for inactive data, i.e. data that are not actively being used but are very valuable and need to be stored for future reference or further analysis. MERLN is a frequent user of DataHub's services and many of our data sets are securely deposited on DataHub's servers. DataHub is not publicly accessible and is therefore perfect for archiving of data that fall under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Moreover, DataHub works according to the FAIR principles which aids in making (part of) the DataHub-archived data available for sharing, for example, through its integration with Dataverse.