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What drives us: Collaborating globally to build trust in science

In our new interview series, we asked leaders at PLOS to share what motivates them to push the boundaries of science communication and support research and researchers. In today’s post PLOS Executive Director of Global Publishing Development, Roheena Anand, discusses PLOS’ aims to ensure representation and inclusion of local research communities in developing a fair and equitable open research future

Please tell us a little bit about what you do at PLOS

As Executive Director, Global Publishing Development, I’m responsible for increasing the representation and inclusion of the local research needs and practices of regionally diverse stakeholders more fully into PLOS’s global business. 

Currently, I’m in the process of recruiting regional team members and partners on the ground who will engage and work with communities and stakeholders to develop a fair and equitable open research future.

To achieve increased representation and inclusion, and a fair and equitable open research future, we need to understand the contexts (cultural, political, economic) in which research stakeholders and communities function.​ We need to understand the barriers and challenges in their local open research communication ecosystems, and to co-develop solutions with them to solve these problems so that “open” can work for them in the contexts in which they work.

Therefore, we also need to be curious and explore new possibilities. We need to listen to and learn from communities and stakeholders, rather than go with preconceptions or assumptions about how things might work or should work in different countries and regions. 

During your time at PLOS, what initiative/s have you been involved with to ensure trust in research?

Via the Regional Directors and partners, we are forming networks and building relationships with the range of stakeholders who support research and researchers in those local ecosystems. We’re working with funders, policy makers, governments and institutional leaders, and we’re advocating for Open Science at a local level. Through these relationships, we’re helping to increase awareness and education around the benefits of Open Science, engage in Open Science policy, and build knowledge of issues and challenges that local communities face in Open Science adoption. 

We always emphasize that Open Science relates not just to openness, but to rigor, reliability, robustness, and quality of research, and therefore its trustworthiness. By making the processes of scientific knowledge creation, evaluation and communication more transparent and making more artifacts of research and peer review public, Open Science invites discussion and feedback from a more diverse community earlier in the process. This contributes to high-quality, reproducible and reliable research, demonstrating the trust and integrity of the research, and of the researchers themselves

Key initiatives include our collaborations in Africa, including the African Association of Universities, and the East African Commission for Science & Technology with our partners TCC Africa, both looking to increase education and awareness around the benefits of Open Science with institutional leadership and national research councils and higher education commissions respectively. And we’re delighted that global partners such as UNESCO have supported these initiatives as well. 

Why do you think this is important for research?

Science and research are and need to be global and collaborative endeavours if we are to solve the greatest challenges Society and humanity faces. Therefore we need to ensure that all who need to participate, can do so, and that no voices are excluded from the debate and conversation.

Our work with local communities and stakeholders aims to ensure that everyone can participate both in this scientific conversation and in an open future. 

Open Science, when done well, should enable and facilitate global collaboration, and participation. By making opportunities to publish, peer review, and read accessible to everyone, Open Science at once enriches the scholarly literature, attracts more readers to published research, and maximizes the impact of that research. It democratises access and utility of knowledge, and allows more scholars to build upon the work to positively impact our future.

What does it mean to you personally to be involved in work like this?

Everything we do at PLOS aims to advance the adoption of Open Science for all the benefits it brings. Personally, it’s important for me to work in an organisation whose values sync with my own and I am passionate about our mission to transform scholarly communication. Specifically, my role contributes to our goal to increase equitable participation in Open Science, which is fundamental to having a truly global and collaborative discussion about the challenges humanity and our planet faces. It’s a privilege to be part of this, even in such a tiny way. If we can bring more people into this conversation, if we can enable them to participate where they would not have been able to before, then that would be wonderful. 

By the end of your career, what do you hope people will think about your contribution

For me, it is less about my personal contribution, but more about the overall impact and achievement. I would love to see PLOS become the truly global publisher it is on the way to being, with true representation from across the globe embedded in shaping the unique contributions that PLOS makes towards that fully open, equitable future. 

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