Weekly digest: NASA, the Arctic and citizen science

Akhil Bansal

This week, we focus on all things data. You can read about NASA’s new initiative focusing on harnessing open scientific data to find solutions to some of the planet’s biggest problems, and Dryad Digital Repository, an open-source data archiving platform. You can also listen to a panel discussion on algorithmic bias and fairness in science. In other news, we introduce the work of Open Polar, a search engine for open access research on the Arctic and Antarctic. Finally, we share details on the upcoming NetworkPharma panel webinar, the European Medical Writers Association Autumn Conference and the freely available modules on citizen science on EU-Citizen.Science.

To read:

NASA wants your help via Nextgov and NASA| 4-minute read

The US space agency is starting a new initiative called Transform to Open Science. It aims to train the next generation of scientists to use open-source tools to conduct scientific work. NASA have been focusing on capturing large volumes of data over the past 18 to 24 months and have been working with other agencies to find the best way to share and synthesize this information. They hope that an open data and open science approach will help researchers develop a systems perspective on key global issues, such as climate change, natural disasters and planetary exploration.

Depositing data made free and easy via PLOS Blogs and DataDryad | 4-minute read

Dryad Digital Repository is an open-source data repository that aims to make research data discoverable, freely usable and citable. Dryad encourages authors to archive their data at the time of publication, providing them with a permanent and unique digital object identifier that can be linked to their published articles so that readers are able to easily access the data. They also offer additional benefits, such as safe preservation and archiving of data to comply with journal and research funding agency mandates, as well as tracking of usage and downloads of data sets in line with Make Data Count project guidelines. They have started partnering with journals to help authors to upload their files directly to the repository during manuscript submission or revision, including with PLOS Pathogens in a one-year trial.

To listen to:

Algorithmic bias in scientific data via Open Science Podcast | 70-minute listen

This panel discussion explores algorithmic fairness, an emerging field of study that is concerned with how automated data-driven systems can lead to discrimination and biases in what information we are shown online. The podcast describes what data discrimination means and how it affects the scientific research that the public sees. They also discuss how algorithmic bias can affect what data and science are most prominent in public and academic discourse. They go on to discuss potential approaches to detect data discrimination, and solutions to make systems fairer.

The Arctic and Antarctic go open access via Open Polar | 17-minute listen

This podcast episode features Per Pippin Aspaas, the Head of Research and Publishing Support at

Open Polar. Open Polar is a thematic search engine for research on the Arctic and Antarctic that only shows freely available documents. Per discusses the reasoning for filtering out all research documents that are not openly available, and highlights the success of the organization, which has approximately 1.8 million records, 22.5% of which are research data sets.

To engage with:

NetworkPharma weekly webinar featuring Open Pharma via MedComms Networking

Join us on 27 October for a multi-stakeholder Zoom panel on plain language summaries, equity and open access, with a focus on our recommendations for plain language summaries of peer-reviewed medical journal publications. The panel will feature Slávka Baróniková (Galápagos), Adeline Rosenberg (Oxford PharmaGenesis), Kelly Soldavin (Taylor & Francis) and Alan Thomas (Ataxia and Me). Find out more and register for free here.

52nd EMWA Autumn Conference via European Medical Writers Association

This year, the European Medical Writers Association (EMWA) is running a hybrid conference both in London and online, featuring sessions on open access for medical publications, plain language summaries and real-world evidence. This includes a session from Open Pharma’s Chris Winchester on our recommendations for plain language summaries. The conference runs from 4 to 24 November 2021, and more information about the programme is available here.

EU-Citizen.Science via EU-Citizen.Science

The EU-Citizen.Science platform contains several free, self-directed learning modules on citizen science, which advocates for public participation in scientific research. The modules cover a range of topics, including different approaches to engaging citizens as stakeholders in research, how to communicate research findings in an approachable and understandable way, and how public engagement in science can be used to help solve global challenges.

Have you read our recommendations for plain language summaries of peer-reviewed medical journal publications? Find out more here and join the discussion on social media using the hashtag #PlainLanguageSummaries!