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When you choose to publish with PLOS, your research makes an impact. Make your work accessible to all, without restrictions, and accelerate scientific discovery with options like preprints and published peer review that make your work more Open.

How to become more open

Want to make your research more open, but unsure of the next steps?

Advancing openness doesn’t have to be hard. Get inspired with these easy ideas for experienced, somewhat experienced, and new Open Science researchers. And remember, no matter your level of experience, you can’t go wrong if you keep the Open Science principles of trust and inclusion always top-of-mind.

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How to become more open

...if you’re already an experienced Open Science researcher

Even if your own research is already as open as you can make it, you can continue to advance the cause of Open Science through personal and professional advocacy, modeling and teaching, and continuing to open yourself up to new and experimental Open Science practices.

Lead by example
Did you just post a preprint or deposit a dataset? Has a peer review you wrote been published? Tweet about it; feature it on your ORCID profile and CV. Taking the extra step to share that you’ve shared is a subtle form of advocacy that can normalize Open Science practices and help others to feel comfortable participating.

Talk about your experiences
Discuss your approach to Open Science with students and colleagues—what motivates you to participate in Open Science? What Open Science practices do you support? What have you learned? Your stories may influence others to try Open Science and help them to be successful when they do. These conversations can also surface issues with current practice and develop improved solutions for the future.

Keep an open mind
Openness is a continuum. What feels modern and progressive today may become standard in the future. As your career advances, you’ll have new opportunities to engage with new and emerging Open Science practices. Continue to keep an open mind and experiment with new ideas for improving trust and inclusion in research, and provide constructive feedback and support to other advocates.

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How to become more open

…if you have some previous experience with Open Science

You’ve already taken steps to improve inclusion and trust in research through Open Science. Continuing to open your research is a matter of engaging in Open Science practices more broadly and consistently—but new processes can be daunting, and you may not know how to proceed, or feel comfortable doing so.

Continue what you started
Keep engaging with the Open Science practices you’ve already tried when the opportunity presents itself—even when participation isn’t required by the journal. If you posted a preprint, post your next manuscript too, if your co-authors agree. If you signed a peer review, sign the next one too, if the journal offers the option. Over time, consistent application can make a major impact, and soon, you’ll develop a routine based on your own Open Science values.

Build on your experience so far
Expanding on a past experience is one of the easiest ways to gain confidence and understanding. Is it possible to participate in the Open Science activities you’ve already experienced, but from a different perspective? For example, if you published peer reviews alongside an article consider signing the next peer review you write. If you posted a preprint consider reading or commenting on a preprint on the same server. 

Step out of your comfort zone when you’re ready
Once you’re feeling confident, go ahead and try something new. If you’re not sure what Open Science tools might be right for your study, try thinking about your manuscript from a reader’s point of view. What would be most useful to you as a reader? Earlier access? More detailed methods? Raw data or images?

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How to become more open

...if you’re new to Open Science

There’s no one right way to communicate your science. You aren’t obligated to adopt Open Science practices, but if you’d like to find an easy way to try it out, there are plenty of low-effort, low-risk, options with significant benefits to you and your readers.

Start simple
What do you have that’s valuable to colleagues and relatively simple to prepare? For many researchers, one easy answer is methods. Whether you are getting ready to start a new study or looking back on a past one, there are publishing options for each stage, including protocols, registered reports, methods articles, and more. Even if you haven’t planned ahead for a methods publication, you probably have some personal notes or records that might form the basis of a manuscript.

Adjust your timeline
Preprints offer another easy, low-risk opportunity to experiment with Open Science. When you’re ready to submit an article for consideration at a journal, take a moment to upload your manuscript to a preprint server too. Many servers even offer journal transfer services that can simplify your submission process. You’ll establish priority sooner, get early feedback you can use to improve the work, and attract more readers.

Consider the reader
If you’re not sure what Open Science practices might be relevant, try putting yourself in your reader’s place. Pretend that you know nothing at all about your study and read over your manuscript. What questions would you be left with? What resources would help you to understand the study more fully? Would you be able to reproduce your own work using only the information included in the manuscript? Odds are good there’s an Open Science option that fits.

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