How Open Source Research Tools Can Help Institutions Keep it Simple

August 2nd, 2017, Rusty Speidel

One challenge familiar to anyone working in a research institution is how to manage the myriad projects, licensing, and publishing challenges that support producing vast amounts of research. Additionally, there are the various writing and graphing tools, databases, analysis tools, data repositories, publishing solutions, and journal access systems to contend with. Then there's publishing--preprint servers, APCs, and article submission systems. All different, all designed to promote loyalty. On top of all that, you still have to manage access. Who has rights to see and do what? Who is using what tools, and can they share with others? Who owns the copyright to all this work?

It can all be extremely daunting, especially if you are working with multiple vendors all looking to maximize your commitment to and investment in their organizations. They don't always cooperate, so keeping your research workflows open, transparent and collaborative is not easy, to say the least. It can also be extremely expensive. Another institutional challenge is compliance. Submitting research to an institutional repository is often perceived as an additional step or burden not essential to the process of doing the research. 

So how can a research institution generate and showcase their valuable research efforts in the most cost-effective, open, and useful way while maintaining maximum control over their valuable research assets--knowledge and impact?

At the Center for Open Science, our mission has been to develop tools, training and support systems to ensure science becomes and remains more open. We believe that the open exchange of ideas accelerates scientific progress towards solving the world's most persistent problems. 

One major way we have tried to meet our mission is through the development of the Open Science Framework (OSF), a free, open-source suite of software tools dedicated to the development, sharing, evaluation and dissemination of scientific research. The OSF supports access to institutional organization and views, meetings, preprints, registries, dissertations, and soon open review. 

We recognize that everyone uses the tools they like to do their best work. To that end, we have developed a comprehensive suite of software add-ons, from Overleaf and Figshare to Dropbox, that allow you collaborate the way that works for you, knowing your data and analysis code will be accessible and shareable in its native format. We are also developing connections to other open source repositories such as DSpace and Fedora so that pushing a finished research project to established services will be simply a part of the process.  By building tools that researchers need and want to use to improve collaboration and sharing throughout the research life-cycle, we can increase access to research outputs and improve institutional compliance. 

We are developing open source tools that connect services together seamlessly, ensuring the entire research lifecycle can thrive outside traditional lock-ins and paywalls and with a minimum of disruption that can be caused by having to navigate incompatible tools from multiple vendors. We encourage cooperative development and contributions, as well as community-driven prioritization of our features and capabilities. We also provide training on how to make the best use of these tools to maximize research quality, openness, efficiency. 

The research and publishing software space is consolidating and changing rapidly, and more of the workflow migrates behind paywalls every day. As a non-profit entity, we exist to support you in creating stable, free, open and integrated tools that make research, related data, and publications openly available so they can benefit of the entire world for years to come. 

Questions? You can reach us here

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