In conversation with Bianca Kramer

"We said for a long time that we were going to let go of impact factors but we never did it. That is completely different now." At the beginning of the summer, open science pioneer Bianca Kamer left Utrecht University. Now that her laptop has been returned, she looks back on her contribution to the open science transition of the university. 

Together with open science colleague Jeroen Bosman, also involved from the start, instead of a reception you gave a farewell workshop, in which you looked back on the open science transition with your audience. What is the biggest thing you have seen change over the years?

"That is clearly the theme of recognition and rewards. We said for a long time that we were going to let go of impact factors, but we always failed to do so. It never really wanted to land. Last summer, it finally happened. We are now in a stage of great change. That was really different five years ago."

Has anything gone slower than you expected?

"I think there are still many misunderstandings about data sharing. That people say, for example, "it's privacy sensitive so it can't be done." Privacy is used as a reason not to share, rather than that, within the limits of what is possible in terms of privacy, sharing is seen as a contribution to science. Because the idea is, of course, that other people will do other things with data that you didn't think of or touched on yourself.

Why do you think that is?

"It certainly has to do with recognition and rewards. If only publications are seen as output but not the data itself, this does not encourage sharing."

You started at Utrecht University 15 years ago at the medical library. You helped doctors and researchers with literature searches and systematic reviews. In the field of open science, a very different time, I think?

"There was a lot that was the same and at the same time nothing at all. Open access was much less a theme then. In any case, little attention was paid to openness and transparency. The switch to digital had not taken place that long ago and much of the publication process was still very traditional. Everything revolved around the article, and no one was talking about sharing data yet."

We live in turbulent times, how do you view the OS movement in a broader social context?

"Often the sharing of preprints (i.e. prior to peer review) is seen as eroding the authority of science. It is important that through open science we can better explain the process and the story of science. That we show that it is untrue that science without a stamp is worth nothing and only gains value once it has been stamped. We also saw this during covid."

You told us that you are leaving open science at the UU feeling you leave it behind in a good place. What do you think Utrecht University needs to be alert to in the coming years?

"First of all, a good integration of recognition and rewards, where it's not just about broadening the activities that count in the evaluation (not just research, but also education, leadership and contribution to team science), but that we also dare to look at the process of research itself and what we recognise and reward within it.

Another important subject to tackle is the open access story. Especially broadening the focus, which until now has mainly been on the agreements with the large traditional publisher. As a result, a lot of money still goes to them. Fortunately, increasing attention is being paid to, for example, the support of 'diamond' open access, where all scientists (not only those working at wealthy western institutions) have access to reading and publishing. "

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