On 22 June 2018 I attended a VSNU workshop on “Recognition and appreciation”. One of the speakers was Maarten Steinbuch. He referred to his idea of a 4th generation university. A university that lets “the (local) network create value, so the university is an enabler and motivator”. In his talk he emphasized that to be able to keep up with technology, we should try to “be exponential”. Of course a rather difficult challenge, but matching his idea that we need disruptors in the system.

Reading both recently launched roadmaps of open science by LERU and LIBER, with useful recommendations for universities and libraries, respectively, I do wonder whether this will help us to realize the longed-for cultural change.
The tangible issues in the roadmaps are useful to pick up and be involved in. At TU Delft we can mark a lot of checks there. In the past ten years we have:

But have we also progressed on the cultural change? To be able to do so, we need indeed to reach out to a wider range of stakeholders than libraries, and we need to simplify or perhaps twist our story.

In a discussion at another workshop I recently attended, about open peer review, it struck me how we were (mainly university support staff attended this workshop) discussing the topic of the peer review process, and that it should be opened, as if peer review as default would be biased or subjective. I wholeheartedly embrace openness and transparency as default, but

  • Researchers review work of others to improve the work & learn what is new in the field, not to “burn” it or get it rejected or “steal” the result
  • Researchers publish to share their work, not to hide it
  • Researchers work to test hypotheses, to find solutions, to understand better how things are, and do not do their research to manipulate, falsify, or modify results

The basic or default attitude of the majority of our researchers in fact is already supportive of open science. Perhaps we are closer to our ambition than we might expect reading the aforementioned roadmaps.

Is the biggest change now how we (as librarians, as administrators) might be able or learn to look differently, to try to be disruptive? A good step forward would be to combine the sets of recommendations and make life easier for ourselves and others, to join hands, cross boundaries and really work together, as research libraries, with our colleagues from HR, ICT, Legal Services and Communication, and to support our researchers to do what they are good at: just science.

Try to look differently? What could this be;-)?