25 Mar 2020

Declaration on Open Science

The Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) fully supports open science. It is inherent to our mission and intrinsic to our strategic goals of advancing science and promoting science-based decision making. Scientists should be able to verify the research of their peers, and then build upon that work to advance the field. It is imperative that all stakeholders should be able to judge the quality of the science to enable science-based decision making. Our position is supported by the definition of Open Science by the Center for Open Science: “Show Your Work. Share Your Work. Advance Science. That’s Open Science.” We expand on our stance regarding some of the major components of Open Science below. 

Open Data

SETAC upholds the importance of open data for scientific advancement. We agree with the FAIR data principles, which provide guidance for scientists to ensure they report Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable data. Data should include all the information that is generated and analyzed during a study, including calculation tools as mathematical or logical algorithms and code used to analyze and compute derived values. The SETAC Journals Data Transparency Policy exemplifies our support of open data as does our TIP on Recommended Minimum Reporting Information for Environmental Toxicity Studies.

Open Access

We endorse the open access movement. SETAC JournalsEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry (ET&C) and Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management (IEAM), are currently “hybrid,” which means that they offer both green and gold open access options for authors, but also continue to rely on subscription revenue. A shift to full open access will be predicated on our ability to ensure that access to reading content in the journal does not come at the expense of an author’s ability to publish, and on the financial security to continue operations. 

SETAC Technical Issue Papers and Science Briefs articles are licensed under Creative Commons licenses, which allow readers to distribute and modify content as long as they acknowledge the original work. 

Science Communication

SETAC believes that science communication goes hand-in-hand with open science. “Access” to the original material does not necessarily make it “accessible.” We provide a variety of science communication tools and outlets, and we encourage and support our members to define their intended audience in order to select the most appropriate format for communicating their research and tailoring the content. 

Open Science in Decision Making

We promote the use of open science in decision making and setting policy. We also recognize that factors other than science should be considered in setting most public policies. Therefore, we recommend that to maintain the credibility of science as a decision-support tool, declaration of decisions should clearly communicate the body of technical information that was considered, the manner in which the information was interpreted in light of the decision, and other factors that may have been considered.

Final Words

Open science is far more complicated than any one of its components. It is not just making data open and available; it’s ensuring that the underlining science is rigorous and that the right data was collected by appropriate methods and analyzed in a transparent fashion. It is not simply making narrative reports available, it’s writing clear communications to a targeted audience. It is ensuring that science adheres to best practices and is organized, documented, and verifiable. Open science alone should not be the definitive factor but an important one to consider in decision making for improved environmental quality.