Open Science in a time of closed borders: How COVID-19 shows that open science is both necessary and possible

There is a growing movement in the scientific community known as open science that aims to make scientific research fully transparent, reproducible, collaborative, and accessible to all people at all levels of society. But isn’t that already how science works?, you may ask. While the detailed answer depends on which field of research you focus on, for biomedical science the answer is mostly no. Although the principles of open science may seem intuitive and fundamental, the health sciences lag far behind other scientific disciplines in implementing them. This is not because the scientists don’t see the importance of open science, but rather because of many complex incentive structures that work against it. But in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of open science is clearer than ever, and its feasibility is undeniable. As if by magic, scientists and governments have quickly overcome many of the usual barriers to open science, forcing incentives to align with social benefit, and demonstrating that not only is it possible, but also necessary to do so when faced with a global health crisis of this magnitude. Science is the clear protagonist of this chapter of history, and its openness is essential.

Estrid Jakobsen
Communications Officer for the Quebec Bio-Imaging Network