Faced with demands to be both open and entrepreneurial, researchers need more guidance on when to share their work and when to protect it, says Kieran Fenby-Hulse.
It is impossible to argue against open research. Publicly funded research should be accessible to those who need it, including those working in countries where journal prices outstrip the ability to pay them. Small businesses and charities should have access to the latest findings, data and methods. Researchers should have enough information to avoid accidentally duplicating past work and to carry out replication studies. This would eliminate errors and ensure that their work is of the highest quality.
But—there is always a but—I’m not convinced that true openness is possible within the current research ecosystem. The move to open research does not depend solely on the development of new business models for open-access publishing. It also depends on how we understand the place where the knowledge economy, intellectual property, research ethics and data management intersect.