Collaborating on nationwide change – Experiences from the 2nd edition of the Open Science Retreat

Collaborating on nationwide change – Experiences from the 2nd edition of the Open Science Retreat

From Monday, March 25th, to Friday, March 29th, we as the Network of Open Science Communities in the Netherlands (OSC-NL) co-organized the second edition of the Open Science Retreat. Initially developed by Heidi Seibold, this format aims to bring people together to exchange ideas, propose and develop projects, and grow the national and international open science community in a one-week sprint.

This year’s edition took place in the beautiful Dutch dunes, with 49 open science enthusiasts from various backgrounds and countries participating in the events. The outcome of putting a group of creative minds together in such a beautiful setting–detached from daily chores and deadlines–was remarkable. 

Among many other things, we (1) created a template for FAIR coding practices, (2) drafted a change management guide to empower researchers and support staff in fostering greater open science adoption within university leadership, and (3) developed a template for recognizing open science practices in higher education staff assessments.

The focus points of these projects resonate with our recent experiences in OSC-NL: while open science practices are gradually being implemented within academia and recognized for their potential, there remains a need for refinement and further development. The prevailing sentiment during the retreat was that we do not need to reinvent the open science wheel but rather accelerate the pace and scope of its implementation and recognition. 

But apart from addressing the latest and most pressing open science questions, participants also initiated more creative and lighthearted projects and activities, such as writing speculative fiction on the future of research in 2050, playing open science games, or participating in ‘Science Karaoke’.  Throughout the event, there were shorter discussions and presentations, as well as longer teamwork sessions. Many of these sessions resulted in summaries, shiny apps, a ForRT bot, sharebacks, tutorials, and other modules with a DOI.  All project materials created throughout the week are available on Research Equals at: 

There were also opportunities to network and develop professionally. Participants had the opportunity for one-on-one mentoring sessions with more experienced members in the retreat or to attend skills workshops, for instance, on creating an engaging narrative for change, achieving work-life balance, and exploring career paths beyond academia. 

As the organising team, we found this week incredibly inspiring, productive, and enjoyable. It felt like we were all teaming up to put one particular important aspect of culture change into action: supporting the people who are already doing the work. We are particularly thankful to NWO, our main sponsor via their Open Science Fund, and other organisations like ZonMw, ResearchEquals and the Digital Research Academy which have made the event possible, and–of course–to our participants who shaped the event and made it such a beautiful experience. 

Participants, who rated the retreat 4,9 out of 5 stars, shared the following thoughts about their experience: 

I loved the idea of doing team work in the morning and non-obligatory sessions in the afternoon. I liked that we had some workshops as well.

The composition of the group was great, with so much diversity of fields and backgrounds, we should expand that further.

I think the unconference style worked very well and there were a lot of great sessions. It was really nice that nothing was required so that there was enough time to explore the beautiful area.

It was super nice to just have discussions in smaller groups instead of having large groups all the time.

I had an incredible time, filled with joy and the pleasure of meeting such lovely people. Each person brought a unique and vibrant energy that made every moment special.

Everyone volunteering (for the bar, the dishes etc.) gave us a sense that we are building a community together.

I liked the ice breaker games, the silent disco and the science karaoke. I think the most important element of an event like this is the connections you make.

I really liked the personal relations you build when attending; It’s much easier now to reach out to others in the field.

I liked it all, really nice mix between working and relaxing, nice people, all around a great experience to repeat 🙂

collection of pictures of people working together during the retreat
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