August 06, 2020

The Open Innovation in Science Research Field - A collaborative conceptualization approach

The way how scientific research is conducted is approaching a turning point. Scientists and policymakers across different disciplines call for new ways of producing scientific research and sharing the resulting knowledge. To this end, open and collaborative movements referred to  as open science, crowd science, citizen science, university-industry collaborations, open data (reuse), open access publications, translational research, inter- and transdisciplinary research, responsible research and innovation (RRI), or third mission activities have received increasing attention. Yet too often these concepts get discussed in isolation, with knowledge about how and under what conditions to apply the practices associated with them scattered across research fields. A unifying understanding was thus hindered by academic and disciplinary boundaries. 

To overcome this challenge, Marion Poetz and her team from the LBG OIS Center initiated a unique experiment: 47 scientists from the natural sciences, social sciences and the humanities  co-created - from scratch - a novel and integrative conceptualization of the antecedents (i.e., drivers and barriers), contingencies, and outcomes of openness and collaboration in scientific research. Building on the resulting  Open Innovation in Science (OIS) Research Framework, they collaboratively wrote a scientific article entitled “The Open Innovation in Science Research Field - A collaborative conceptualization approach”.

Along the lines of this conceptualization, OIS is defined as a process of purposively enabling, initiating and managing inbound, outbound and coupled knowledge flows and (inter/transdisciplinary) collaboration across organizational and disciplinary boundaries and along all stages of the scientific research process.

In this article, the 47 co-authors introduce the Open Innovation in Science (OIS) Research Framework by exemplifying several OIS practices that involve actors from the public, industry, and politics, as practiced across the disciplines. They then proceed to elucidate and synthesize individual-, team-, organisation-, field-, and society‐level factors shaping OIS practices. What  follows is a multiple-perspective discussion about the outcomes as well as the societal and scientific impact of open and collaborative practices along all stages of the scientific research process. Finally, they surface the interrelatedness between the different multi-level factors, complementarities but also tensions and conflicts that go along with opening up the research process, calling for future research actions from scientists across all research fields. 

Importantly, the article does not consider openness and collaboration in science as ends in themselves. Rather, it discusses open and collaborative practices as potentially powerful means of improving the novelty, efficiency, and impact of scientific research. Following OIS practices themselves, the 47 co-authors from 37 institutions and 13 countries equally  shared decision rights in producing this article. “We took a from-scratch collaborative conceptualization approach, which began at the 2019 OIS Research Conference and continued with iterative rounds of offline and online discussing, writing, and editing”, says Susanne Beck, senior researcher at the LBG OIS Center and coordinating co-author of this article. 

The article will appear (in print) as the lead article in a Special Issue on “Open Innovation in Science”, edited by Susanne Beck, Marion Poetz, Henry Sauermann, and Christoph Grimpe  in the Journal Industry and Innovation in 2021. It is already now available online ahead of the print version and - of course - open access (click here). Quoting one of the co-authors (Prof. Hila Lifshitz-Assaf, NYU), “we invite you to engage with it and us as we seek to better understand the role and value of openness and collaboration in science in responding to the grand challenges of our time.”

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