‘Open science is just science done right’

Open science is just science done right, according to Anke Versteeg. She says we should be proud to share what’s going on here at TU Delft.

Anke Versteeg: “Open science is a means to work together with other disciplines more easily, to share your work with others, to work more in teams, to work more internationally.” (Photo: Nicole Will)

“I used to work in the publishing industry. I started working in a large scientific bookshop, but then later worked for several publishing houses. Then in 2007 there was this vacancy for an account manager for the TU Delft Library related to the Faculty of Architecture. That was really when the Library was starting to connect with the open access movement and the times were changing.

The whole topic of open access, open data, open science comes out of a big change in the publishing industry. It was about how to deal with this freedom of the World Wide Web, which was thought to be very idealistic. Everybody could talk to everybody and exchange ideas and share knowledge. Then there was this coup by the big publishers who grabbed and shut everything down. That made the costs rise and the international library world was fed up with it.

The open movement is really growing and I was one of the people who started it at TU Delft. At the time we got help from Karel Luyben (former Rector Magnificus) who asked us to make people aware of it in faculty meetings, so I became a regular guest at those. Then we did a kind of roadshow in 2015 going around to every department at TU Delft, 44 of them. It took a year visiting one a week and talking about open access publishing, but also research data management. We met all of these people and they were interested but wanted to know what was in it for them because it takes a lot of work to put your publications and data sets out in the open.

It’s very important to know your author’s rights and give your work the right licences so people know what they are allowed to do with your work. How to make it reusable but also how to get cited for your work. We don’t want people to put it there and not get credit for it. It’s a lot of work with data managing and making data FAIR, because we said it should be findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable. We asked for more hands and the Executive Board allowed us to hire data stewards for each faculty. That was a big step.

‘It’s about helping people do their research and educational work better’

It became more complicated and had more angles than we could handle at the Library. So the Executive Board advised us to make it broader and to have HR, ICT, and legal services involved, to work together with the open education movement, connecting it with open science. It grew and we were asked to make an official programme out of that with all of the different stakeholders.

It was long process getting to this point and we officially started in January 2020. Because of my early involvement I was appointed Executive Secretary to assist the Programme Manager. I do this work in addition to my normal role as Library Policy Relations Coordinator. That’s how it is for everybody working on this programme. We also have an engagement manager and someone from communications, and together we are the team that is trying to provide guidance for all the project leads.

Open science is not a goal, it’s a means to work together with other disciplines more easily, to share your work with others, to work more in teams, to work more internationally. So we are trying to connect with lots of groups. Idealistically, open science is just science done right. That means that you are managing all of your work right from the start, managing your data, thinking about licences, your own rights, about connecting with others. You have to do a lot of research management, which helps you in the end.

What I enjoy about my job is connecting the Library work with the research and educational goals of TU Delft. It’s about making the Library an important help centre, helping people do their research and educational work better. And within the constructs of ‘open when possible’, to share it with the rest of the world and show what’s going on here at TU Delft. We should be proud of what we’re doing here.”

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Heather Montague / Freelance writer

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