All Things SciComm

Making Open Science the Default Practice with Lisa Cuevas Shaw

July 05, 2022 ScienceTalks Season 2 Episode 1
All Things SciComm
Making Open Science the Default Practice with Lisa Cuevas Shaw
Show Notes Transcript

In today's episode, Nikesh Gosalia talks to Lisa Cuevas Shaw about open science practices and her journey in the publishing industry. Lisa unpacks her experiences, from her beginnings at Sage to her stint at McGraw Hill, before her return to Sage to help expand Corwin. She discusses the opportunities that led her to the Center for Open Science, which is championing open science practices through their tool, Open Science Framework (OSF), using a three-pronged approach of product, policy, and research. Lisa also shares advice on risky career moves, making this a must-listen for all early career researchers. Nikesh and Lisa also dive deep into the nitty gritty of open science. They discuss the goals of open science, its UNESCO definition, and how open science is different from open access. Finally, Lisa makes a strong case for making open science the new default practice, from fostering increased trust in science, accelerating scientific findings, to reducing global inequities.

Lisa Cuevas Shaw is the COO and Managing Director for the Center for Open Science, and an adjunct professor in Management at Pepperdine University. Lisa has extensive experience in the publishing world, having previously worked as a COO and a Deputy Publisher for JMIR Publications and a Senior Vice President for Sage Publishing. She can be reached on Twitter

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Hi everyone! Welcome to ‘All Things SciComm.’ ‘All Things SciComm’ is a weekly podcast brought to you by ScienceTalks, a media platform that aims to make science accessible to everyone. Today's guest has a proven track record of creating sustained value for independent, mission-driven organizations. She has been involved in progressive leadership strategy and business development, with expertise in scholarly, educational, and professional publishing. Currently, she is the COO and Managing Director for the Center for Open Science, an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University. Previously, she was the COO and Deputy Publisher for JMIR Publications. And prior to that, Senior Vice President with Sage Publishing. Please welcome Lisa Cuevas Shaw. Thank you for joining us, Lisa. Thank you for having me Nikesh. So, you've dedicated your entire career to the publishing industry, and now are leading one of the most influential organizations dedicated to open science. So, we felt you'd be the perfect person to have on as a guest for our podcast. So, let's get started. We can start with your journey into the publishing industry. I believe you started with Sage Publishing. And so maybe if you want to talk a little bit about why publishing in the first place, and what got you into Sage? Thank you. It's a great start. I wish I could say that this was all part of a well-considered masterplan, but I kind of fell into it. I was an English Major who wasn't quite interested in teaching just yet. I had a trial run with journalism but didn't think it was quite right for me and just happened upon this major scholarly publisher in my own backyard. And once I got there, I discovered how much I liked hanging out with people who appreciated and privileged knowledge acquisition more broadly, who loved playing an active role in developing and disseminating ideas. And not just any ideas, but those situated in research questions and research findings, and apply it across so many disciplinary and real-world domains to solve problems and address inequities. In my undergraduate career, I could not pick a major to save my life. I just was interested in too many things. And so, this actually was a perfect fit for me. I loved language, reading, being exposed to lots of topics. So, this gave me freedom and room to explore all those things. So, I think that's how you could say I chose the publishing industry, or it chose me. When I joined, I had the good fortune to serve in so many roles across the organization over many years. But my very first role, which I was fortunate enough to land again immediately after earning a bachelor's degree and not knowing where to start first, was as a production editor in Sage’s journals division. I'll date myself and that's fine. But that was in the late 90s when we hadn't made the switch to a fully digital workflow and digital dissemination. So just picture me and a team of us carting boxes of page proofs back and forth to typesetters, all within the construct of meeting strict deadlines to produce actual issues, you know, and we actually had deadlines for journal issues. Certainly, times have changed. You've got rolling articles, articles being produced, different outputs, and so there's just been so much amazing change. And I started at Sage when Sage was really starting to accelerate its growth as a global publisher. Very interesting Lisa. Just when you mentioned the boxes and going over reams of paper, a question just popped in my mind. Was it all working from an office at that point of time or were you given the flexibility of working from anywhere or even say from home? No, at that point everyone was in the office for sure. Sage had already opened up different offices around the world. So at that time there was the Sage London office. Actually, I think those were the two primary offices, and then you would have some folks who might be remote, but it had to be a very particular job, maybe a publisher who really didn't need to be in the office because because they were going to be working with authors closely and traveling quite a bit. But for a production team, oh, no, we were all in the office 24/7. Not 24/7 but it felt like it when we were meeting those deadlines. So yeah, there was no real trend with remote or hybrid working at that stage. So, you worked at Sage for over a decade and then you took a small break to work in McGraw Hill. So, how was that for you? What was your role essentially at McGraw Hill? At Sage I had moved through a number of positions, moved into management roles within production, then moved into acquisitions, wanted to find myself where the action was with business development and have conversations with authors and societies and movers and shakers. Had moved into heading up the Sage Research book program, and then really felt that I needed – it was a 10-year mark. I had been at Sage for 10 years, a privately held company, a wonderful organization, but felt that I wanted to actually test out. It would be important for me to get a sense of working for a publicly held company. So, at the time, McGraw Hill had an office in Woodland Hills, California. I reside in Southern California. I took a position as an executive editor in their vocational trade group. And we developed vocational texts and resources, everything from courses, supporting courses in automotive, to carpentry, to health. Fascinating work. And it got me much more engaged in the science of pedagogy and learning than I had been exposed at Sage just relative to the positions I had prior. So, it was a great experience. I would say that there was absolutely a distinct difference in my sphere of influence as a leader within McGraw Hill as compared to Sage. McGraw Hill being publicly traded, Sage being a private organization. McGraw Hill was larger and there were more constraints, less freedom to inform organizational strategy. Overall a great experience, but there certainly was a difference. Our unit was well run. I could still develop as a leader. But I think the opportunity at McGraw Hill really afforded me a chance to discern real differences based on corporate structure and mission. I guess after your stint at McGraw Hill, you came back to Sage, pretty much moved up the chain, and then you eventually worked your way up to Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Corwin, which was a subsidiary of Sage. And so, I’d just love to hear about your transition at Corwin from a publishing company to more like a professional organization, and what your role was in that transition. I came back after about 15 months, and again, McGraw Hill was wonderful to me, but there just happened to be an opportunity to come back and take up a leadership role within the textbook organization at Sage and then I was invited by Sage’s CEO to help Corwin. Corwin was in kind of a transition, as you noted, and so at the time I joined in late 2012 Corwin was a print publisher only. So, they were producing titles to books specifically, and some video collections to support professional development of educators, specifically primary and secondary educators. And at that time the company hadn't really made a transition to digital in any substantive way. So, the first order of business was to digitize all the books and related publications. That was kind of the proverbial low-hanging fruit. And there was a market for it. So educators were reading more through digital devices and using digital publications. But there was a more profound change to grow beyond a publisher. And I think this is interesting just in the context of today, publishers expanding into more service providers or service provisions for their communities or constituents they serve. At Corwin at the time we wanted to drive change beyond publishing. It was needed for two reasons relative to both the business and also the market itself. So, regarding the markets, professional development for educators was also evolving and diversifying to involve synchronous workshops, courses, larger scale change initiatives across whole schools and whole districts. These were professional development opportunities that were being funded by states and federal agencies, in the states in particular, but other similar mechanisms globally. So that was one reason is we needed to meet the market where they were going. We also believed that reading a book could have an impact on professional growth certainly in terms of awareness-building, knowledge acquisition, perhaps some skill development, but real professional sustained growth and professional development that could have a lasting impact on student learning needed to go further than books. And so, from an organizational perspective to further our mission we needed to do more. And so, we wanted to develop services that went deeper than book studies. I was part of the leadership team that developed and launched a whole new service line of professional learning consultancies, workshops. We developed these services with many of our authors who were already offering these kinds of services at the time. And from there we literally transformed the business and also began to develop deeper institutional partnerships with schools, districts, other educational coalitions. It was just a really rewarding experience and it was unexpected. When I was invited to come into this role, I said, well, why me? I don't have deep education experience. And I just couldn't have expected from a leadership perspective the opportunity to take on lots of risk, lots of uncertainty. This all sounds familiar, right, in the realm of leadership, but a lot of innovation and a lot of risk-taking. So, it was an awesome time for me. If you could talk a little bit about JMIR. Why JMIR and what were some of your responsibilities there? There is a little bit of a pattern. It was a very different organization but there's a pattern, there's a throughput here. In some ways similar to my work at Corwin, I was invited to join JMIR to help its founder. This is a visionary individual, Gunther Eysenbach who founded JMIR, was a born digital, born open access medical publisher founded in 1999. And in 1999, born OA was not a thing. That was very, very early days. And so Gunther had developed this organization, grown it. In the wake of COVID, like many academic journal publishers, JMIR saw tremendous growth in submissions. And so, it was just growing organizationally, and it was undergoing a transformation of its own from a technology perspective as well. The organization runs on open source software. It's the Open Journal software, but it was developed through developers at JMIR. It had been customized over the years to support many of JMIR’s innovations, and also from a business model perspective to support the different things that Gunther was doing. And so, Gunther had been an advocate for trying to more equitably solve for the economic burden of producing and disseminating open access articles and outputs. And I was just fascinated by the opportunity to just dive headfirst into not just open access, but open science. Not that Sage doesn't have quite a program in open science, but relative to my role at Corwin, I didn't have direct access to that. And so, I was invited to head up all operations and to support Gunther and the leadership team to build out organizational and leadership capacity as it was growing. Finally, we arrive at now where you are COO and Managing Director of Center for Open Science. So, if you can talk a little bit about that. Yeah, again, a little bit of a running theme, at least from Corwin, to JMIR, to the Center for Open Science insofar as I am joining at an organizational inflection point. And I think organizations go through little ones and big ones all the time in terms of inflection points. We kind of joke internally, when aren't we going through an inflection point, right. Things change so quickly. There is lots of uncertainty in the world, lots of opportunity and dynamism. But at the Center I am heading up the full operations across the Center. So, a little bit about the Center for Open Science. Our mission is to make open science and open scholarship the default practice and we are really trying to drive for openness, transparency in the research process, rigor, reproducibility of research. And we take a systems approach to what we and others who are supporters of open science believe is a culture change issue. We have institutionalized so many closed practices and reward systems that counter the shared values we know exist among the global community of researchers. So, a systems approach to culture change towards open means that at the center at least we need to make open science practices even possible. So, we have an open source infrastructure called the Open Science Framework or OSF. For those in the know, that supports open practices across the research lifecycle. We also need to make open science practices, make it easy. So, we try to integrate OSF with other tools and resources across the entire research infrastructure and ecosystem. We try to incorporate templates, workflows that researchers need and use. We then from a systems perspective need to try to make it normative. So, there are various communities, as you know, different disciplines that have different distinct needs, different methodologies they use. And so they need to feel that it meets – these communities need to feel that it meets their needs and that their peers are supportive. In addition to that, these practices need to be rewarded and they really currently aren't, and they need to be embedded and integrated into different policies, journal policies, institutional policies, funder policies. So, all to say that the center has three kinds of distinct activities to enact the system's approach. We've got a product and engineering team who works on the vision and development of the open source framework. We have a policy team who helps drive open science policy and is really an advocate for and has a framework that many communities and stakeholders can use to enact change as well. And then, kind of unusually, we have our own research team who actually does the studies around trends and interventions involved in culture change toward open science. So the community of scientists who study the practice of sciences is known as the meta scientists. We actually try to then enact a systems approach to all of this. And so, my role has been to partner with the leadership team with Brian Nosek, the Founder and Executive Director of the Center, our partners, funders, to scale what has been very successful over the past 9 years. And so, a lot of lot of change happening, a lot of growth, and we are kind of entering this next era. We are beyond startup mode, well beyond startup mode, but we are still maturing as an organization. And so, from a growth perspective we now have 500,000 registered users on the OSF. And these are users that are distributed globally. And we have more than 2000 journal signatories of our transparency and openness promotion guidelines. And they are not ours. The community had formed these top guidelines. And there's a lot of support for these guidelines across many funders who are putting those guidelines into practice as well. So, with all of this happening, a lot of opportunity, I think there's an inflection point in the open science movement as well. I've been invited to help support the team's effort in growing and scaling our work. In an article published by the Center for Open Science announcing your role as COO, you stated that you wanted to lead the Center for Open Science into its next era of growth and global impact. According to you, what is that next era and what does it look like? I think some of it – we have our own mantra internally of like, let's work the plan but let's also be responsive to opportunities that are happening. And as you know the conversation, and I think we'll get into a little bit more about open science but is finally moving past that focus on open access really, to broader open data, true understanding of a broader perspective. And maybe we can touch on even UNESCO's recommendation for open science because I think it's probably the most broad, but also cohesive and thoughtful definition of open science. But there's a real opportunity. As I mentioned, we have 500,000 registered users, not all of whom are practicing all open science practices. So, we've got a lot of work to do and an opportunity to engage with communities to understand what their needs are and training, services, consulting services. But all of our efforts have kind of reached more of a global reach now, and I think that, as I've mentioned, we feel as though there's an exciting sea change in the open movement. And so, what we are working on is really scaling our change efforts and probably also, most importantly, needing to engage even more closely with. We're one of many actors in this space and so we have an opportunity to partner with more changemakers and form more coalitions at an institutional level, funder level, other stakeholders who work with publishers, work with editors. And so, I think this next era of growth and impact is not necessarily about the Center itself, right, but it is growth and impact surrounding the culture change that many, many actors are driving with us. Before I move on, I must acknowledge your journey has been fascinating, very impressive. And a lot of our listeners are perhaps early career researchers or people who are also moving into the industry relatively young. And I just had a couple of questions for you. One was when you made some of these kind of big moves, like you rightly mentioned, risk-taking, you just don't know what's there on the other side, how do you navigate that particular situation? Because in my experience, when I first moved to the UK, there was so much fear what will happen next. And then I had to really kind of declutter and make it as objective as possible, and probably just tell myself, ‘what is the worst that can happen?’ But just from your perspective, Lisa, it'll be good, it'll be interesting for the listeners, just if there's anything that comes to your mind as to how did you navigate some of these kinds of bold moves throughout your career. Yeah, well, you said the magic word of decluttering. If you have tips on that, I would love to hear them because I still haven't mastered that one by any stretch. I think it's a great question. And believe me all of it when you reflect on it sounds like, oh, yeah, I made this move and then did this and this. One of the strange things about my career, but it's also one that I feel really proud of, again, a little bit more in reflecting on it, is I have made so many jumps from production, the work of editing, to acquisitions and engaging in editorial conversations, to going from journals to academic books to textbooks to professional books to then heading up different market segments, learning new markets. And I think that's just a reflection of I’d like to learn new things, right. And so, that's not something that was particularly designed methodically. The opportunities came up and I was very lucky to have them. There were a couple of instances where the opportunities were really unexpected, and I did not drive them. They were, hey, we need you to come over here and help us. And it's like, whoa, what it that about? And I think in those instances where there's a lot of uncertainty and you know, you just feel it that you are taking a risk because there's more unknown than known, I think talking to colleagues, finding mentors, making sure that you've got – we always talk about who is around your table of advisers. So, for early career researchers or professionals I think it's such a gift to be able to be a mentor. And typically, the mentorship is happening both ways, right. So, there's always something that both individuals or small groups are sharing and giving to one another. But I think at least having some close advisors, some folks you trust to weigh in, that's always important. And that's more than networking, kind of what feels to perhaps some people as a surface level activity. And it doesn't necessarily need to be, but not everyone is cut out to just network, right. So, if you're not, find some close advisers, get some perspective. And then just remember that every risk you take is an opportunity to learn. And I think in this space there's a lot of dynamism, a lot of new things happening with technology, with such a responsibility given our interconnected global environment, that you have to kind of calm down and remember, hopefully, that things will work out and that you are going to learn from the risks that you take. I'd love to get into the three main topics for the show. We are big proponents of open science for many reasons. And so now that you are the COO for the Center for Open Science, we can assume that you are also a proponent for open science frameworks. In your opinion, why do you think it's important that the science community transitions to an open science format? It was a prerequisite to get the job, that's for sure. I guess one thing that would be helpful to do is maybe I'll begin by describing or trying to define open science. I won't do it justice. Again, I would highly recommend your listeners take a look at UNESCO's recently adopted recommendation as I think they do a beautiful job. But open science is a broad framework intended to capture the various practices that make the research lifecycle from project ideation and formation, to study design, to data collection, analysis, outputs, outcomes, and then dissemination. It attempts to make all of that open and transparent and more connected, documented, usable, reusable, all along the way, as a very, very broad definition, but actually not the broadest one. Because I think the way that UNESCO kind of captures it is it's also about openness to engage with multiple stakeholders, how do we engage with indigenous knowledge, communities we serve, patients, citizen science, all of those things. So, we are talking about a broad sea change that is absolutely possible because we've got technology, we are interconnected globally, but we have a lot of inequities to still solve for to make it truly accessible and possible. But just to say that as a movement, it's great to see that open science, I think we are no longer making open science synonymous with or limited to open access. It is not just about discovery and dissemination being open, but everything about the research lifecycle being open and verifiable, and then even evaluated at certain milestones. And so, the goals at the center are to increase – and certainly of open science are to increase collaboration and inclusiveness across stakeholders, improve the rigor of science practice overall so that studies can be reproducible, we have greater confidence in what the findings presented, and ultimately to make science truly accessible as I am mentioning. So, in terms of why I think open science is important and imperative, again, there's a compelling case made right in the preamble of UNESCO's recommendation on open science. And for your listeners, that recommendation, it's a legal instrument. It doesn't necessarily have repercussions if you don't implement it, but it was adopted by all 193 member states late last year. So, there's a lot packed in the preamble of why do we believe we need to have policies and enact open science practices. But my own short list of reasons why I think it's important to make open science the default would be – and this is coming a little bit more from a publishing perspective, right – all these years we know, and again I know this having been in the industry for years that our current system rewards what is novel, what is exciting, what are positive findings that supported a hypothesis or more than – so, all of this is rewarded more than the mundane replication studies, studies that didn't work out, that produced negative results or no findings. And we all contribute to this reward system. So, there's no finger pointing, right, it's just been institutionalized. Funders, institutions, reward, tenure, and promotion practices, publishers obviously, you want to drive impact factor ratings and I know that's a whole other contentious topic, and rightly so, which in turn help drive submissions. They secure either subscriptions or leadership. All of this is kind of a cycle, right, that we are trying to kind of unpack. And we know that this system of rewarding novelty and positive findings doesn't help make the scientific process more efficient or effective. We know that by rewarding novelty and positive findings, we are missing the opportunity to learn from all studies. And therefore, in a nutshell, we're wasting effort in many areas where we could be accelerating and more effectively accelerating the discovery of cures and solutions. And so, all of that also kind of feeds into what is already a growing concern and issue which is mistrust of science and sometimes weaponization of science. And if we can openly improve the quality, reproducibility, and impact of science, we can also impact the reliability of evidence needed for decision-making and policy. And by making that science open through registering of studies, sharing of outputs, accelerated sharing of findings, we can better determine where to make more investments to accelerate cures and interventions and where not to. And so, I think there's a huge opportunity to lay a foundation for greater trust in science, greater access to science. The other thing I'll mention, and I believe CACTUS, like many others in the scholarly publishing community, support the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We know that we are trying to address very complex and interconnected challenges. I think COVID gave us all a pretty clear window into what that looks like. And if we keep the practice of science closed and slow, there's no question that we run the risk of missing opportunities to reduce unnecessary suffering, or to reduce inequities globally. And so, it's my belief, it's the belief of the center and many other actors in this space that open practices are simply more effective in identifying weaknesses or gaps in study designs or in literature foundations that allow for better collaboration and contribution, and they can support better, more equitable access to knowledge. But that takes time, right. We have to have the infrastructure, the resources, the training, the knowledge to know how to do this together. And so, I don't want to make it sound like it’s just a snap of the finger and it's all open. There are lots of other issues to consider as well. Absolutely, yeah.