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Preserve open science during COVID-19 fight, international scientists say

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
"Transparency engenders public trust and is the best defence against misunderstanding, misuse, and deliberate misinformation about models and their results"

An international group of scientists who specialise in various kinds of computer modelling is calling on colleagues across the world to maintain open access to knowledge, expertise, tools and technology during the global fight against COVID-19, in a letter published in prestigious publication Science.

The letter, co-signed by James Hutton Institute researcher Gary Polhill in his capacity as President of the European Social Simulation Association, describes scientific computer models as critical tools for anticipating, predicting, and responding to complex biological, social, and environmental crises, including pandemics, due to their importance in guiding government policy responses.

According to the signatories of the letter, presenting modelling results alone is not enough and scientists need to openly share their model code to enable the replication and evaluation of results.

“We need many eyes to review and collectively vet model assumptions, parameterizations, and algorithms to ensure the most accurate modelling possible.

“Transparency engenders public trust and is the best defence against misunderstanding, misuse, and deliberate misinformation about models and their results.

“We strongly urge all scientists modelling the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences for health and society to rapidly and openly publish their code, along with specifying the type of data required, model parameterizations and any available documentation, so that it is accessible to all scientists around the world,” the letter goes on to say.

The text in full is available here and a related scientific paper, Computational Models That Matter During a Global Pandemic Outbreak: A Call to Action, has been published in the Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, an open access, interdisciplinary publication for the exploration and understanding of social processes by means of computer simulation.

Open science is a key research value for the James Hutton Institute. The Institute’s scientific ethos is one of “advancement of knowledge” and the organisation aspires to achieve this through excellence with objectivity, independence and transparency, and minimisation of any conflict of interest.

Additionally, last year the Institute announced plans for the establishment of two Open Science campuses at its Aberdeen and Dundee sites. These were described by Professor Colin Campbell, Chief Executive, as campuses which will provide open access to the public, stakeholders and businesses to the Institute’s world-leading science.

Press and media enquiries: 

Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, James Hutton Institute, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).

Printed from /news/preserve-open-science-during-covid-19-fight-international-scientists-say on 27/02/24 11:19:44 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.