Health sciences librarians’ engagement in open science: a scoping review

Dean Giustini, Kevin B. Read, Ariel Deardorff, Lisa Federer, Melissa L. Rethlefsen


Objectives: To identify the engagement of health sciences librarians (HSLs) in open science (OS) through the delivery of library services, support, and programs for researchers.

Methods: We performed a scoping review guided by Arksey and O’Malley’s framework and Joanna Briggs’ Manual for Scoping Reviews. Our search methods consisted of searching five bibliographic databases (MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, LISTA, and Web of Science Core Collection), reference harvesting, and targeted website and journal searching. To determine study eligibility, we applied predetermined inclusion and exclusion criteria and reached consensus when there was disagreement. We extracted data in duplicate and performed qualitative analysis to map key themes.

Results: We included fifty-four studies. Research methods included descriptive or narrative approaches (76%); surveys, questionnaires, and interviews (15%); or mixed methods (9%). We labeled studies with one or more of FOSTER's six OS themes: open access (54%), open data (43%), open science (24%), open education (6%), open source (6%), and citizen science (6%). Key drivers in OS were scientific integrity and transparency, openness as a guiding principle in research, and funder mandates making research publicly accessible.

Conclusions: HSLs play key roles in advancing OS worldwide. Formal studies are needed to assess the impact of HSLs’ engagement in OS. HSLs should promote adoption of OS within their research communities and develop strategic plans aligned with institutional partners. HSLs can promote OS by adopting more rigorous and transparent research practices of their own. Future research should examine HSLs’ engagement in OS through social justice and equity perspectives.


health sciences libraries; health sciences librarians; open science

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