The Societal Impact of Open Science: A Comprehensive Review

The Societal Impact of Open Science: A Comprehensive Review 992 1024 Open and Universal Science (OPUS) Project

Abstract: Open Science (OS) has emerged as a transformative approach to research, aiming to democratize access to knowledge and enhance its societal impact. However, assessing this impact poses significant challenges. This scoping review systematically examines existing evidence on the societal impact of OS, encompassing various aspects such as Citizen Science (CS), Open Access (OA), and Open/FAIR Data (OFD). Through a meticulous analysis of 196 studies, this review identifies key areas of impact and sheds light on knowledge gaps, providing insights for future research and policy development.

Introduction: In recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on measuring the societal impact of academic research, driven by government policies and funding frameworks worldwide. The adoption of Open Science (OS) practices aligns with this agenda, aiming to foster transparency, inclusivity, and accessibility in research. Despite these intentions, the empirical evidence regarding the societal impact of OS remains scarce. This review aims to address this gap by systematically synthesizing existing literature on the topic.

Methods: This review follows the PRISMA Extension for Scoping Reviews methodology and poses primary and secondary research questions to guide the study. Through a comprehensive search strategy across academic databases and grey literature sources, relevant studies are identified, selected, and analyzed. The study protocol, pre-registered and published on the Open Science Framework platform, ensures methodological rigor and transparency.

Results: The review identifies 196 studies providing evidence of societal impact driven by OS, with a predominant focus on Citizen Science (CS), followed by Open Access (OA). Key areas of impact include education and awareness, climate and environment, and social engagement. However, limited evidence is found regarding the impact of Open/FAIR Data (OFD) and other aspects of OS, such as policy, health, and trust in academic research.

Discussion: The findings underscore the need for further empirical research to comprehensively understand the societal impact of OS. While OS holds the potential to enhance societal benefit, challenges related to causality and measurement persist. Addressing these challenges requires concerted efforts from researchers, funders, and policymakers to develop robust methodologies and frameworks for assessing impact.

Conclusion: This scoping review provides valuable insights into the societal impact of Open Science, highlighting both its potential and limitations. By elucidating key areas of impact and identifying knowledge gaps, this review informs future research agendas and policy interventions aimed at maximizing the societal benefits of OS.

Keywords: Open Science, Societal Impact, Citizen Science, Open Access, Research Policy, Scoping Review.

Cole, N. L., Kormann, E., Klebel, T., Apartis, S., & Ross-Hellauer, T. (2024, February 21). The societal impact of Open Science‚Äďa scoping review. https://doi.org/10.31235/osf.io/tqrwg

Photo via Open Access Belgium

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