Open Science: What’s It All About?

Open Science: What’s It All About?

Open Science: What’s It All About?

Deciding what to do after completing your PhD can be a daunting task. Weighing up the options, I decided that, whilst there are parts of academic research that I’ll certainly miss, it was time for something different. I’ve always had an interest in how science can influence, and be influenced by, society. What role does basic bioscience play in our everyday lives? Can my research in developmental biology improve people’s lives? Does it need to in order to be useful? Having been involved with a variety of different public engagement activities during my PhD I also knew that I loved sharing my enthusiasm for science with others.

ORION logoKeeping my eyes peeled for jobs that would let me explore these interests further, I was excited to find an opening at the Babraham working on an EU funded project called ORION Open Science. Delving into this further, I found that the project suited me perfectly! ORION is all about Open Science. This includes things I already knew about, like open access journals, open data, public engagement and citizen science; but also things I’d never heard of, like participatory funding, open notebooks, DIYbio and responsible research and innovation (RRI). Importantly, I knew that I whole-heartedly agreed with the fundamental principle of Open Science, that science should be accessible to anyone who might be interested.

Diving into the world of Open Science has been eye opening. Not just learning about the wide variety of activities that come under the Open Science umbrella, but also about how they can be implemented into research at all scales and by all levels of researcher. Published a preprint? Open Science. Applied for a collaborative grant? Open science. Edited a scientific Wikipedia page? Open Science. Seeing how researchers at the Babraham are already implementing some of the principles of Open Science is encouraging, and learning about how ORION plans to help improve this process is very exciting.

Attending the ORION AGM in my second week was a fantastic way to catch up on what has been happening in the project so far. Some of my favourite initiatives include:

  • ORION podcasts discussing a whole range of topics surrounding Open Science – from Plan S to communicating animal research.
  • Citizen science projects Genigma and SMOVE, which are exploring how to involve the public in bioscience, from experimental design through to data analysis and dissemination.
  • Collaboration with artist Emilia Tikka who produced the piece “ÆON – Trajectories of Longevity and CRISPR” provoking the question: would you want to live forever?
  • A Menu of Co-creation Tools exploring the assortment of ways in which scientists can open up their research by collaborating with a wide variety of people and organisations

It was also interesting to discuss where the project will be going next. We have a whole host of activities lined up for the next year, and I’m excited to be able to share some great opportunities with the students and researchers at the Babraham:

  • ORION has recently opened a funding call offering up to 100,000€ for collaborative co-creative research projects that involve a variety of different people in the research process.
  • We will be hosting one of four public dialogues on genome editing taking place across Europe. Our researchers will be discussing genome editing techniques, such as CRISPR/Cas9, with the public and finding out about society’s hopes and fears for the future of these technologies.
  • In autumn, the ORION training team will be delivering Open Science training events for any Babraham researchers interested in learning more about open science.

In the meantime, if you’re keen to get involved in any form of Open Science feel free to get in touch with me ( or check out the fantastic resources provided by FOSTER and RRI Tools to learn more.


Image credit: Elisabetta Broglio, Citizen Science Coordinator, Centre for Genomic Regulation