The 2023 IDEA Forum: Celebrating the Year of Open Science

Many federal agencies deemed 2023 the “Year of Open Science.” The vision for open science is to make conducting and sharing scientific research more transparent, accessible, and collaborative. The American Statistical Association imagines a world that relies on data and statistical thinking to drive discovery and inform decisions. There is much synergy between these two visions, so the theme for the 2023 Influencing Discovery Exploration and Action Forum was open science. The goal of the IDEA Forum is to bring thought leaders together to discuss topics important to the world community.

Open science promotes transparency by making research data, methodologies, and analysis techniques openly available for scrutiny and replication by other researchers. Transparency is addressed throughout the principles of the ASA’s Ethical Guidelines for Statistical Practice. Principle A: Professional Integrity and Accountability states “the ethical statistical practitioner uses methodology and data that are valid, relevant, and appropriate, without favoritism or prejudice, and in a manner intended to produce valid, interpretable, and reproducible results.”

Many federal agencies participating in the Year of Open Science have also developed initiatives that support transparency. For example, the US Geological Survey developed a Year of Open Science webpage to showcase their contributions to open science. The article “Provide Robust Documentation for Your Data and Software” provides guidance on creating metadata for data and software. The article states, “Data and software may be publicly available but if they are not well-documented, then they are not completely accessible to all.” Another example is, the government-wide software service.

Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and codirector of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, provided another example at the IDEA Forum. He described how the center was able to transfer prototypes for COVID vaccines to India and Indonesia, resulting in the administration of millions of doses of high-quality vaccines.

Open access to research publications is critical to meeting the goals of open science. This allows a wider audience—including researchers, students, policymakers, and the public—to benefit from scientific findings. NASA has made many important contributions to open access. The agency created PubSpace, which provides public access to scholarly peer-reviewed publications.

The US Department of Agriculture’s commitment to public access and open science offers another example. The USDA’s PubAg has millions of entries and is searchable for scholarly publications on agriculture and related domains.

Additionally, the National Science Foundation’s Public Access Repository provides access to its funded research, including journal articles and juried conference papers.

Catherine Woteki, professor at Iowa State University and visiting distinguished institute professor at the University of Virginia’s Biocomplexity Institute, highlighted an example of how open access could contribute to addressing the global food security dilemma. Matthew Cannon, head of open research for Taylor & Francis, described the role for traditional publishers in open access. More information about these ongoing initiatives can be found in Cannon’s article in this issue.

The ASA contributes to open access in several ways, including supporting open-access journals such as the Journal of Statistics and Data Science, Data Science in Science, Statistics and Public Policy, and Statistics Surveys. In addition, open-access journal collections of editor’s choice articles are periodically made available.

Principle B: Integrity of Data and Methods states that the ethical statistical practitioner must meet “obligations to share the data used in the statistical practices (e.g., for peer review and replication) as allowable,” respect “expectations of data contributors when using or sharing data,” and exercise “due caution to protect proprietary and confidential data, including all data that might inappropriately harm data subjects.” This commitment to reproducibility and replicability is a cornerstone of open science and helps ensure the robustness of scientific work.

Many federal agencies have developed initiatives to support reproducible and replicable scientific work. One example is the National Institutes of Health Data Management and Sharing policy, which requires funded investigators to share their data, thus “enabling validation of research results, providing accessibility to high-value datasets, and promoting data reuse for future research studies.”

Open science emphasizes collaboration and sharing among researchers across disciplines and geographical boundaries. This is also the goal of the IDEA Forum. Michael Walsh, DAS portfolio manager at the Center for Enterprise Dissemination for the US Census Bureau described initiatives underway at the bureau.

Following are the three distinct but connected initiatives:

  • • US Census Open Science Initiative: open-source research platform to access and search publicly supported research
  • • US Census Open Data Initiative: commercial cloud data repositories to access census data
  • • US Census Open Code Initiative: code collaboration repository to access census software products and projects

Read more about this work in Walsh’s article in this issue.

Open science represents an approach that fosters collaboration, transparency, and accessibility in the scientific community. By advocating for the ethical sharing of data, methodologies, and findings, open science accelerates the pace of discovery and promotes reproducibility and trustworthiness in research outcomes. The success of open science depends on the sustained commitment of researchers, institutions, policymakers, and society at large, and the IDEA Forum will continue to contribute to a more collaborative, transparent, and impactful scientific landscape.

About the Authors

Dionne Price is the deputy director of the Office of Biostatistics in the Office of Translational Sciences at the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the US Food and Drug Administration. In this role, she provides leadership to statisticians who develop and apply methodology used in regulating drug products. She currently leads cross-cutting, collaborative efforts across the FDA to advance and facilitate innovative trial designs in pharmaceutical drug development.

Price earned her master’s in biostatistics from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and PhD in biostatistics from Emory University. She is an active member of the American Statistical Association and Eastern North American Region of the International Biometrics Society. She is a fellow of the ASA and served as its 2023 president.

Donna LaLonde is associate executive director of the American Statistical Association, where she works with colleagues to advance the association’s vision and mission and supports activities associated with presidential initiatives, professional development, and accreditation. Before joining the ASA, LaLonde was a faculty member at Washburn University and served in various administrative positions, including interim chair of the education department and associate vice president for academic affairs.

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