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ON-MERRIT Project Concludes

ON-MERRIT, a Horizon 2020 funded project coordinated by the ORRG, concluded at the end of March, 2022. ON-MERRIT (Observing and Negating Matthew Effects in Responsible Research & Innovation Transition) commenced in October 2019 and studied existing policies and practices of Open Science to determine whether they may be fostering cumulative advantage as they are applied within academia, industry and policy-making. Together with our consortium partners, we found that this is in fact the case, and that science policy-makers need to be aware of these dynamics in order to craft policies that support equity in the transition to open and responsible research.

ON-MERRIT concluded with a final online event that featured keynotes by renowned scholars Sarah de Ricjke and Leslie Chan, as well as the presentation of our project results and recommendations. We shared key findings including that:

  • There is a disconnect between awareness and uptake of Open and Responsible Research within academia, and
  • Training for researchers in these areas is low across the globe (Correia et al. 2021).
  • Well-resourced actors publish Open Access more frequently and in higher cost journals, fostering the stratification of the OA publishing landscape and marginalizing voices from the periphery of academia (Pride et al. 2021).
  • Participatory research fosters inclusion of previously excluded societal actors in both research and policy-making, but this type of research does not yet have enough institutional support (Cole et al. 2021).
  • Institutional policies in support of open and responsible research remain rare and quantified measures for evaluation predominate, though researchers would prefer qualitative measures that support and value openness and collaboration (Pontika et al. 2021).
  • Policy-makers prefer to receive information orally and through existing social networks, therefore OA publishing has little impact on the uptake of science by policy-makers–the cognitive accessibility of science is more important (Reichmann et al. 2020; Correia et al. 2021; Cole et al. 2021).
  • The trustworthiness and credibility of research scientists, from the policy-maker standpoint, is of great importance at the science-policy interface and therefore existing inequalities and unconscious biases surrounding gender, race, class, age and geographic location pose barriers to participation for some scientists (Cole et al. 2021).

In response to these findings, and the research of others that have identified threats to equity within Open Science, we co-created and published a list of 30 recommendations aimed at science policy-makers (funders and institutional leaders) as well as researchers.

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