Open science is a political issue

OAI opened Facebook this morning to find a friend back home had linked to an article in Maclean’s magazine:1

Here are the issues Canadians care about the most this election

It was to the delight of all the confirmation-bias associated circuits in my brain2 that 74% the public of Canada3 favoured policy to “Make government-funded science available to the public.” More than any other single policy.

I have not been shy in the past about letting you know that I believe open science is morally right. In my field, which falls under the big umbrella of environmental science, the people working on the front lines, with NGOs, with development organizations, producing food for the people of the world, the ones making the real decisions that affect practice- these are the people that need access to the whole of the science- and yet, these people, the applied scientists working outside of western academia, are least likely to have access to university libraries. Letting them in through open science benefits humanity. Period.4

When I think about, and talk about open science on this blog, I usually focus on open data and open publication. But open science is more than that- it’s also science communication– it’s breaking down the barriers between science and the public- something that is NOT happening in Canada right now.

Here in the US, some fantastic inroads have been recently made for open science in the form of policy change at NSF. I’m thrilled to see that the people of Canada, my people, are starting to come around to this, too. Science is for the people, and the people care. I just hope the politicians take notice.


1. For Non-Canadians:Maclean’s is a Canadian centerist political magazine. Think US Weekly, but with fewer Kardashians, and a focus on Canadian politics and social issues.
2. As the holder of many unpopular opinions, I’m not used to the majority of the public agreeing with me. That being said, I’m sorry, I just don’t like dogs. I’m a cat person and nothing is going to change that.
3. Okay, the biased sample of the Canadian public that takes web surveys offered by Maclean’s magazine.
4. “Ladies and gentlemen, Dr. B. has reached full idealistic Pollyanna. Duck and cover!”

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About cbahlai

Hi! I'm Christie and I'm an applied ecologist and postdoc in the midwestern US. I am an #otherpeoplesdata wrangler, stats enthusiast, and, of course, a bug counter. I cohabitate with five other vertebrates: one spouse, one preschooler, one teeny baby and two cats.
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One Response to Open science is a political issue

  1. Pingback: The Open Science and Reproducible Research course, Diversity in science, and other happenings | Practical Data Management for Bug Counters

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