Open Science: Contributing to a Culture of Inclusivity for the Next Generation

By Kennedi White 

 To me, open science represents the easily available, worldwide access to data and science for future generations to expand on. Acknowledging that fact, it’s hard to separate open science from cultural inclusivity. 

Before I was introduced to NASA’s Transform to Open Science (TOPS) initiative, I attended a high school that had a scientific research program. Oftentimes conducting or replicating methodology proved to be difficult because we weren’t allowed access to needed information, partly because we were considered too young to engage in science. With open science, those barriers are dismantled so that anyone, regardless of their background, has access to scientific journals to find more literature on a topic, the datasets necessary to replicate any methodology, and access to instrumentation and remote computers. What ultimately cemented this belief in my head was seeing a Canadian high school student present her research at NASA’s Exploration Science Forum, which was achieved due to the resources and opportunities presented to her because of open science. Had the drive towards open science been available at that time, I’m sure younger Kennedi would have had a field day.   

From a collaborative standpoint, open science encourages a more diverse set of researchers to engage with and build upon existing knowledge. As a lover of creative writing, I’ve often found in literature that certain concepts about space and celestial bodies have been shared across a myriad of cultures at different periods of times; with some concepts and methodology for studying the stars coming long before Galileo. In the end, access to new scientific discoveries, especially as a means of recording them historically, is made easier with open science. A collaborative environment filled with people from different cultural, educational, and economic backgrounds will allow for new perspectives to drive us forward in meaningful ways.  

I believe open science promotes inclusivity by democratizing access to knowledge and fostering diverse participation. By encouraging global collaboration, engaging with communities and providing open educational resources, open science contributes to creating a more inclusive and equitable scientific culture for the next generation, one I am more than happy to be a part of. 

Kennedi White is an intern from Howard University, supporting NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Planetary and Space Sciences