The Golden Road to Open Science

If you are a scholar and haven't spent the last ten years in a vacuum, you have heard of Open Access: the emerging practice of providing unrestricted access to peer-reviewed scholarly works, such as journal articles, conference papers, and book chapters. Open Access comes in two flavors, green and gold, depending on how an article is made available to the public. The "green road" to Open Access involves an author making her article publicly available after publication, e.g. by depositing the article's post-print in an open institutional repository. According to many, the preferred avenue to achieve Open Access, however, is the "golden road" which happens when an author publishes an article directly in an OA journal. The fact that Open Access, regardless of its flavor, has innumerable benefits for researchers and the public at large is beyond discussion --- even the most traditional scholarly publishers would have to agree. Importantly, the vision of universal Open Access to scholarly knowledge, i.e., the idea that the entire body of published scholarship should be made available to everyone free of charge, is not too far fetched. In practice, by a combination of green and golden OA practices, this vision is already a reality in some scientific fields, such as physics and astronomy.

So: Open Access is both fundamentally necessary and bound to happen. But, whether Open Access, alone, can guarantee reproducibility and transparency of research results is a different and compelling question. Do research articles contain enough information to exactly (or even approximately) replicate a scientific study? Unfortunately, very often the answer to this question is no. As science, and scholarship in general, become inevitably more computational in nature, the experiments, calculations, and analyses performed by researchers are too many and too complex to be described in detail in a research article. As such, the minutiae of research activity are often hidden from view, making science unintelligible and irreproducible, not only for the public at large, but also for scientists, experts and, paradoxically, even for the same scientists who conducted the research in the first place, who may have not documented their exact workflows elsewhere. A parallel movement to Open Access --- Open Science --- is building up momentum in scholarly circles. Its mission is to provide open, universal access to the full sources of scientific research.