Open science round-up: July 2023

As the year unfolds, we remain committed to keeping pace with the ever-evolving sphere of open science. In this issue, Moumita Koley brings you the significant happenings, prospects, and insightful readings from the past month. In the editorial, Peter Suber highlights critical yet frequently overlooked aspects of open access to knowledge.

Open science round-up: July 2023


Angry optimism: Try this exercise. Read the news every day, even the distressing parts. For every case of cruelty, corruption, incompetence, injustice, illness, or simple misfortune, and every degree of suffering in their wake, ask yourself a set of questions:

Would this have happened in a society where sharing knowledge was a high priority? Would this have happened in a society with half the ignorance and uncorrected misinformation of our society?
Would this have happened in a society spending even one-tenth as much on open access as our society spends on shooter video games?

Earthquakes and volcanoes would have happened anyway. The same is true for some, but not all, floods, mudslides, famines, and diseases. Other woes like policies, decisions, and actions based on false assumptions might not have happened at all. Harmful omissions also fall within the exercise, such as ill-informed dismissals of well-informed warnings about climate change. But even for calamities that would have happened anyway, like earthquakes, the exercise goes beyond the events to ask about the suffering they caused. Take a deep breath and think about the answers.

When we must admit that a certain amount of suffering would have happened anyway, then we are entitled to our grief and pessimism. But when we recognize that some suffering could have been averted, then for that part we must adopt an angry optimism and work harder.

I want to make two concessions here. First, academic research behind paywalls is a mix of confirmed, unconfirmed and refuted. Some of it deserves to be called knowledge and some doesn’t. Second, making research OA doesn’t do much on its own to spread specialist knowledge to non-specialists, let alone convert creationists to evolutionists or climate deniers to climate activists.

The optimism I’m recommending does not assume that better access to knowledge translates easily or automatically into better understanding and use of that knowledge. OA is compatible with all kinds of failure to act with intelligence and compassion. I’m concerned here with the opposite error, the pessimism of thinking that OA is merely academic or that it makes no difference to real-world suffering. As I concluded in a 2010 essay (arguing for what probably needed no argument), “OA is necessary but not sufficient for an enlightening spread of already-discovered, already-recorded knowledge.”

If you agree that OA is necessary, even if far from sufficient, then add two more questions to the newspaper exercise. How does the money we need for OA compare to the money we now spend on access to paywalled knowledge? How does it compare to the money we now spend on alleviating the suffering traceable to the lack of OA?

Peter Suber

Peter Suber is the Senior Advisor for Open Access in the Harvard Library and Director of the Harvard Open Access Project in the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. By training, he is a philosopher and lawyer, and stepped down from his position as a tenured professor of philosophy in 2003 to work full-time on open access. He was the principal drafter of the Budapest Open Access Initiative (2002), serves on the boards of many groups devoted to open access and scholarly communication, and has been active in fostering open access for many years through his research, speaking, and writing.

For more information, see his homepage.

Big stories in Open Science

MetaROR: Innovating Scholarly Publishing and Peer Review with a Community-driven Model

Editorial Board Revolt at Wiley Journal over Concerns of Profit Overriding Good Practice

Elsevier Journal’s Board Members on the Verge of Walking Out  

Mass Resignation Hits Critical Public Health Journal Over Differences With Publisher  

ROAPE Removes Paywalls: Unrestricted Access to Content from 2024 

All Research from the Netherlands in One Place 

Aspen Institute and Omidyar Network Partner to Foster an Equitable Data Economy  

PeerJ Launches Open Advances Series for Equitable and Barrier-Free Scientific Communication 

Science Europe Annual Report 2022 Advocates for High-Quality Science and Open Research Culture 

Knowledge Unlatched Celebrates a Decade of Advancing Open Access Scholarly Publishing

COGR Survey Projects Substantial Costs Due to New NIH Data Sharing Policy 

University of Tennessee, Knoxville Joins OLH’s Library Partnership Subsidy System 

Dutch Research Council Allocates €72,000 to Support Open Science Infrastructures  

ORFG Progresses in Enhancing Research Output Tracking Initiatives

Mellon Foundation Awards $5 Million to CLIR’s Digitizing Hidden Collections Program

eLife and PREreview Join Forces with COAR for ‘Publish, Review, Curate’ Ecosystem Advancement

Open Science events and opportunities 

Job opportunities

Our top ten Open Science reads

  1. Governance by output reduces humanities scholarship to monologue
  2. Benefits of Reading Open Peer Reviews
  3. How academia is exploring new approaches for evaluating researchers
  4. Preprints become papers less often when the authors are from lower-income countries
  5. The Future of academic publishing
  6. The values of journals
  7. Mastodon over Mammon: towards publicly owned scholarly knowledge
  8. Lost in translation? Revisiting notions of community- and scholar-led publishing in international contexts
  9. Open access ‘at any cost’ cannot support scholarly publishing communities
  10. Open Science is Better Science


The information, opinions and recommendations presented by our guests are those of the individual contributors, and do not necessarily reflect the values and beliefs of the International Science Council.

Image by David Becker on Unsplash.


Skip to content