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The world we live in is modern in so many ways, yet old-fashioned in so many others. Issues such as sustainability and health are rising high on the global agenda, forcing science and research to become the most important core of today, and tomorrow. Recently, a digital revolution and new technologies have changed the conditions, enabling quicker and more efficient scientific discovery, innovations, and impact on business, economy, and society at large.
Despite this, old habits counteract collaboration, free information, and fast innovation. Even now, there are doctors that do not have access to the newest information and research on how to help patients better. Much information is behind locked doors, and not all scientists and universities can afford to buy it, leaving research unfinished and delayed. Furthermore, information gets lost, increasing the misinformation visible during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as decreasing the reproducibility of research.
The power of the digital revolution in combination with science and research will answer the hardest of questions. Open data and open science are fundamental for solving the problems of today and tomorrow and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Data, methods, and code must be shared, and UNESCO has made it possible.
Open Science is a platform based on a European Open Science Cloud, aiming to communicate scientific knowledge to anyone in society, from professionals to citizens. The platform is built to make publishing easier through the possibility to store, process, and access research data. The movement is characterized by a couple of guidelines and recommendations set by UNESCO and should always provide open access, open data, and open research. By ensuring that researchers obey under FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) principles, the shared information will be rigorous and carefully studied. Ideas and disciplines can be exchanged, fostering a community based on collaboration and innovation.
The movement of Open Science has been recognized as a pillar for the Sustainable Development Goals, essential for the achievement of the seventeen goals set by the United Nations. Interdisciplinary research, joining science and technology to fulfil the human right to science, is fundamental to achieving these goals. In one way or another, all seventeen goals can be connected to the impact of Open Science.
Reproducibility is necessary for research to be approved. Yet, it is a source for duplicated work, data wastage, wasted money and perplexity due to lost information. Open Science answers this problem through an open data and open research approach, giving access to scientists all over the world. Results can thereby be replicated by independent scientists.
State actors are frequently the main financiers for research projects. By making science accessible for everyone, taxpayers can see exactly where their money is invested. Additionally, increased collaboration and fewer mistakes provide better value for taxpayers’ money.
Open Science enables better collaboration, leading to greater impact on society. The open environment for free dissemination of knowledge empowers collaboration and interdisciplinary work. The COVID-19 vaccine is proof of the quick research and development of scientific methods emerging from combination of different resources and brainpower. However, collaboration is not only favorable for scientists and funders, but it also increases the quality and impact of research by enabling intellectual and ethical rigor as well as peer-reviews.
A Lab of the Future enables scientists to easily be part of the Open Science movement. Using tools such as Electronic Lab Notebooks (ELNs) and computational simulation programs will help scientists to stay digital all through their research, easing the publication of their work on a digital platform, as well as empowering collaboration between scientists.
We stand in front of a fourth revolution. The revolution of open knowledge for everyone. The revolution that will enable quicker and better innovations for achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The revolution that we have the power to influence.
To find out more, please visit the UNESCO website.
Blog written by Johanna Arnlund
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