Nature: Five ways consortia can catalyse open science

Over the past four years, we have studied more than a dozen scientific consortia involved in data sharing, and we’ve mapped the landscape of these and another 44 such initiatives. When they work well, consortia act as catalysts, to accomplish what members cannot do alone. But scientists are seldom taught effective strategies to design and manage such coalitions. Here we distil the lessons from our fieldwork into five ways to foster open science.

Consortia dos and don’ts

Strategy Do Do not
Build out from the middle Legitimize new cross-cutting entities that catalyse sharing. Assume ‘top down’ or ‘bottom up’ initiatives will be sufficient.
Forge a shared vision Conduct outreach so stakeholders explicitly voice goals and identities. Assume that stakeholders all agree on what is ‘at stake’.
Accommodate diverse changing interests Regularly map needs. Adjust and maintain shared vision. Assume that stakeholders have the same needs or fixed needs
Multiply impacts Allow coalitions to forge new forms of cooperation. Undermine consortia members’ independence.
Co-evolve Adapt social and technical systems to emerging needs and practices. Assume that if you build it users will come.
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