15 characteristics of an Open Science champion

This blog post is based on a paper presented at LIBER’s 2016 Annual Conference in 2016, which won a LIBER Innovation Award.

The majority of this data comes from numerous librarians’ lessons learnt when engaging with their champions in Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, UK as part of SPARC Europe‘s Europe’s Open Access Champions project.
(A champion is someone who is actively contributing to implementing and advocating new open scholarship / science principles and practices within their organisation’s research communities. Their efforts are speeding up more access to Open Access research results.)

Bringing this content together, 15 characteristics have been identified that make a great champion.

Please note that despite content referring to Open Access in the first instance, you will see that the skills and characteristics are very well transferrable to the area of Open Science, including Open Data.

So before actively engaging with a champion in your research community to get either

  • an Open Science or Publication policy set up,
  • to mobilise more researchers to adopt some of the research data management services you now have in place or
  • to explore more opportunities to safeguard and promote access to data in your institution

take a look at this checklist to see which persons you might have in your organisation who can help drive things forward.

They don’t need to have all the elements, but you’re most lucky if they do! …

A good Open Science / Open Scholarship / Open Access / Open Data champion is someone who

1. is an expert in the research open field, and serves as a contact person for your research community

2. can discern facts from myths

3. has the ability to navigate the complex discussion
on scholarly communication with clarity and engages in debate

4. has the skill to discuss an emotive topic and steer it in the right direction

5. openly shares their own experiences with others

6. understands what it is both as a 
research provider or author and as a reader or data re-user

7. advocates the concepts of openness: Open Science / Open Scholarship / Open Access / Open Data in their local research communities and above all helps others do so

8. keeps others involved and on track

9. has the skill to be able to talk as equals with a range of researchers, managers or administrators 
from junior to senior and from positive to hostile

and above all ….

10. is convinced that Open Science and Open Scholarship is the better way for scientific communication

11. believes in it being instrumental to academic integrity

12. trusts in the value of a range of research outputs be it by sharing articles, books, proceedings, statistical data, software, images, sound, video or e-lab notes for example

13. considers far more than
journal-based metrics 
in hiring, promotion 
or funding decisions

14. takes leadership to make progress in an antiquated and commercially driven scholarly communication system, and

15. provides libraries with active roles in implementing Open Science / Scholarship / Open Access and Open Data recognising their important roles as thinkers, facilitators, and service providers.


What other characteristics do your champions have? It’d be excellent if you shared yours below.


Comment on “15 characteristics of an Open Science champion

  1. 16: understands the vast difference between Open Data and Open Access (articles) and the shortcomings of narrative to communicate data for machines.

    17. (For fun) has exceptional skills to get tenured and not fired.