Three Burning Questions with Julie McMurry

First-hand thoughts and experiences on the Open Science Journey

Open Science is transforming discovery and innovation in biomedical fields. Through transparent and collaborative data-sharing initiatives, researchers are changing how research is approached, shared, communicated, and disseminated – maximizing its impact for patients around the world. Julie McMurry, Associate Research Professor at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and Associate Director of the Monarch Initiative database, reflects on her Open Science Journey and shares tips on how anyone can help move scientific progress forward faster.

Why did you decide to join the Open Science movement? What have you found most challenging?

Julie McMurry: Collaboration and sharing has been a fundamental part of my formation as a scientist. I didn’t so much decide to join as decide to stay, as I was able to witness first hand not only the benefits to society, but maximizing my own impact. The most challenging part of being an Open Science practitioner is the lack of visibility into who is using the tools and resources we make available. It makes it harder to calculate impact metrics. It is important to get creative about tracking everything you can, from application page views to the number of issues users have logged, to how many people stopped by your booth at a conference. You may need to proactively reach out to users and request their feedback. When we do this, I get to talk to users who have just discovered our resources and are digging in with enthusiasm, often saying things like “This was just what I was looking for” or “I wish I had known about this sooner” or “This is giving me lots of ideas.”

What advice do you have for others who would like to join Open Science?

JM: Take it a step at a time. For example, publish one of your next papers open access, or publish the source data or source code that accompanies your paper. Make sure that all of your scholarly outputs are in an appropriate and findable venue where permanent, citable IDs are issued; this makes it as easy as possible for others to credit you and easier for you to track your impact. Pay it forward. Cite others’ Open Science artifacts in your publications and promote others whose work you depend on – whether through social media or letters of support. Consider including the creators of vital resources as consortial authors on your next manuscript. Toot your own Open Science horn. Highlight the open access status of your outputs, for example when presenting your work. Where allowed, be sure to include non-traditional Open Science outputs on your CV. Learn by doing. Join a project where you can see others practicing Open Science. Figure out what works for you and your team.

What would you like to see next in Open Science and rare disease research?

JM: I would love to see rare disease registries and journals adopt phenopackets (searchable files with detailed descriptions of disease, patient, and genetic information) as the standard for representing individuals and cohorts for rare disease diagnosis and research. We desperately need openly available computable descriptions of patients to improve diagnostics and characterization of rare diseases.

Join the discussion! Julie McMurry will be at the Neuro Open Science in Action Symposium: Open Science and Rare Diseases session at 12:20 p.m. EST on Tuesday, November 23, 2021.

Learn more about the 2021 Neuro Open Science in Action Symposium. Registration is free! 

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