UBC leads the way as first Canadian institutional OSF member

January 28th, 2020, Sharon Hanna, Jason Pither, Mathew Vis-Dunbar

UBC campus

COS is thrilled to welcome the University of British Columbia (UBC) as the first Canadian institutional OSF member. Read more about UBC’s efforts to provide a supportive open science infrastructure for its students, faculty, and staff as a part of its commitment to producing open and reproducible research in Canada.

Authors: Sharon Hanna, Open Science Librarian, UBC Okanagan; Jason Pither, Associate Professor, Biology, UBC Okanagan; Mathew Vis-Dunbar, Southern Medical Program Librarian, UBC Okanagan

The University of British Columbia is beginning to feel the ripple of open science. Researchers and instructional faculty across disciplines at UBC have been integrating the ethos of transparency and reproducibility into their work and classrooms for years. But migrating practice to open requires much more than individual intent; it relies on a coordinated effort by researchers, instructors, the institutions they work for, publishers, and funders.

Through the efforts of Eric Eich, Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President Academic Affairs and Jason Pither, Associate Professor, Biology, UBC's Okanagan campus is spearheading an initiative to align existing efforts in support of open science and to foster a culture of change across the university that encourages researchers and students to embrace the tenets of open science. Becoming the first Canadian institutional member of Open Science Framework counts as an important first step in this direction. But the story of open at UBC is set to morph from a ripple into a wave.

Through its Excellence Fund, UBC has provided financial support for the Fostering Open Science project, recognizing that its goals align closely with core values in the university’s Shaping UBC’s Next Century strategic plan.  This puts UBC in the vanguard of open science in the Canadian academic and research sphere. Fostering Open Science targets research support and educational initiatives at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

This project works in close association with the UBC Okanagan Library and has two strategic goals: first, to establish the expertise and infrastructure needed to cultivate the practice of Open Science among willing members of the entire UBC research community at both campuses; and secondly, to ensure that the core tenets of Open Science are of second nature to graduates of UBC’s undergraduate and graduate programs.

The former focuses on facilitating effective collaborations amongst researchers on discipline-specific platforms that enable reproducibility and transparency. It's also about beginning the conversation between the university's administration and faculty association about updating criteria for promotion and tenure, to better reflect the open values promoted by the Fostering Open Science strategic initiative. The complexity of these conversations mandates the active involvement of a broad range of campus units.

The latter is the crux in a true shift in culture in how science is undertaken, evaluated, respected, and trusted. Working in partnership with the Library at UBC Okanagan, Fostering Open Science is targeting the undergraduate classroom as the place to spark the conversation on principles and practices of open science. It is crucial that our undergraduate students—the researchers and policy makers of the future—graduate critically aware of the impacts and pitfalls of science that is undertaken without attention to transparency and reproducibility. Working with faculty, lab managers, and students in Biology, we're building a series of content that aligns with existing class curriculums and assignments, interweaving crucial elements of open science practice, including exploring key questions of access to information, open technologies, and workflow management. Read more about this work here.

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