Open science to meet the public’s appetite for accountability, transparency, and trust

On 15 July 2022, Stephan Kuster, head of public affairs at Frontiers, gave a speech at the closing reception of the EuroScience Open Forum, Europe’s largest interdisciplinary science conference.

Thank you, Professor Breedveld. Good evening. My name is Stephan Kuster. I am head of public affairs at Frontiers.

I joined Frontiers because we are a fully open access, research publisher whose mission is clear and simply put. 

We want to make all science open.

We believe that global, existential threats call for scientific breakthroughs at pace, based on full and immediate access to the latest research. 

In short, science that is open to the many, not just the few.

We are delighted to support the forum in this, its tenth year. The ESOF team has done a fantastic job bringing us all together and framing the conversation.

It has asked how scientific endeavour can cross borders, between disciplines, geographies and worldviews. And it has challenged us to engage with the public, to shape policy.

Now the scientific community in recent years has made enormous progress on both these fronts. Not least in our collective response to the pandemic.

But success is not guaranteed.

Too often, science has been captured by votes or opinions. Too often, the doubts it raises are seen as part of the problem rather than a source of solutions.

In a poor-quality, binary debate, public trust in the veracity of science, in its intentions and its cost, falls away.

And of course, political accountability is weaker if we don’t have the science, the trade-offs, and the difficult choices in view.

At Frontiers, we want to help change that. We want to tell our story and explain the benefits of shared science.

While the commercial publishing industry comes with complexity, the mission of open science does not.

European political leaders and funders recognize that. And we know there is much that has been done, but much still to do.

For as long we see new threats to our democratic checks and balances, we will see new assaults on science’s validity.

So, as we face down global challenges, open access science will grow our chances of success. And it will close the knowledge gaps that become a vacuum for misinformation. After all, misinformation doesn’t sit behind a paywall, while potentially vital science does.

We will need bold public sector leadership. The political commitment to Open Science, to shared scientific research, and to deeper and faster scientific collaboration.

Science that is open to the many, not just the few.

Open science to help meet public appetite for accountability, transparency, and trust.

Thank you.