Equity in Open Scholarship

Aligning social justice & representation with open scholarship, rigor, & reproducible research

An initiative by the partnership between the SPARK Society, SIPS, & FORRT.

General Goals

We are organizing a series of summit meetings on the topic of Equity in Open Scholarship: aligning social justice & representation with open scholarship, rigor, & reproducible research, where we aim to focus our discussion on the needs and concerns of researchers from historically marginalized groups.

The term “Open Science” covers a variety of practices that aim to help individuals and communities of researchers share their work openly, often with the goals of improving reproducibility, expanding access to scientific findings, and making tools, materials, and data that can be reused by many researchers broadly available. These practices also provide opportunities to conduct and disseminate research that does not depend on access to elite institutions or tenured positions. Both SIPS and FORRT were created to provide spaces for researchers in the social sciences to collaborate and share open practices, and both strongly affirm inclusivity, diversity, and openness to critical perspectives as core values. At this year’s SIPS, Ayanna Thomas and Duane Watson, founders of the SPARK Society, gave opening plenary calling attention to how open science movements may fail to benefit diverse communities of both researchers and research participants. This talk inspired several of us to discuss concrete opportunities to address this issue.

As a first step, we hosted a summit on open scholarship specifically directed at historically excluded scholars of African American/Black, Latina/o/x American, and Native American heritage in the United States. This served two purposes:

  1. As open science principles begin to be more commonly accepted and valued in our research communities, there is a risk that these scientists will face structural barriers to participating in the communities where these tools are developed and taught.
  2. We firmly believe that some open science practices have enormous potential to benefit some researchers, and we’d like to ensure that researchers from currently underrepresented groups are among those who benefit from open science practices.

We invited stakeholders to engage in an open scholarship activity via sharing their thoughts on ➡️ an open manuscript⬅️ that details both the purpose of this meeting and some background on specific open science concepts and practices. All attendees were encouraged to contribute in identifying those OS concepts that you are most interested in discussing, and where there is the most potential for either harm or benefit to historically excluded scholars.

We concluded that Open Science practices can promote diversity, inclusion, and equity; however, equity and inclusion are not guaranteed by open science practices without an active effort to achieve them. The also agreed that the goal of our group is to consider how open science practices can better consider the needs and concerns of historically excluded and otherwise marginalized scholars, educators, and consumers of research. This is because while the adoption of open science practices is laudable and can eliminate some of the barriers to success that result from status (or resource-based gatekeeping), it does not obviate the need for careful consideration of equity and inclusion within these practices. Preregistration, making data and code open, and sharing preprints have hidden costs for many scholars—both where they require additional work from resource-strapped researchers, and where the academic system and practices present an unequal burden across different research institutions, methodologies, and contexts (e.g., Nathan Matias et al., 2022; Zhang et al., 2022). Our priority is to eliminate those costs by removing barriers to entry and restructuring practices with equity at the center.

We also highlighted the need to collect relevant resources. FORRT, the Turing Way, and others similarly aligned organizations, already are excellent resource repositories. FORRT developed this as a space to collect relevant resources for this effort, as well as to promote the dissemination of information, share meeting notes ( 1st summit), events, and other products of this group. Everyone can contribute to the development of this resource page by adding information here.

Organized by Ayanna Thomas, Yuichi Shoda, Melissa Kline Struhl, & Flavio Azevedo.