11 October 2023 – EMBO and EMBO Press have long been committed proponents of Open Science and its goal of making research accessible, promoting trust, and encouraging sharing of methods and data. Now, with rapid progress in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), the EMBO Open Science Implementation (OSI) team is applying AI to address challenges in Open Science.
Tasks such as the organization and curation of an increasingly large body of open research material are perfect subjects for machine learning algorithms. However, this raises practical and, sometimes, ethical questions. The EMBO OSI team works at this intersection of policy, publishing, and technology to facilitate the meaningful and responsible integration of AI into Open Science.
The Open Science implementation strategy
The OSI strategy at EMBO is to innovate by exploring the potential of new approaches and engaging in external collaborations to consolidate and scale them up. For example, one current project uses AI for the curation of datasets linked to figures in scientific papers. This approach significantly improves the efficiency and reliability of published data.
Another initiative uses AI to map the research themes covered by different journals, institutions and even individuals. This is valuable for investigating the evolution of research topics in journals, exploring the global landscape of open research by mining preprints, and identifying gaps in the publishing landscape.
AI can also provide practical help, for example in the peer-review process. The OSI team is experimenting with tools to suggest improvements to the tone and language of a review, to extract the significant themes from reviews and to identify the parts of a manuscript that received most attention from reviewers.
Responsible AI: Balancing the risks and rewards
Extensive testing and evaluation are prerequisites to launching new tools, but AI comes with unique concerns around the accuracy and trustworthiness of generated content and whether AI should replace human input and oversight.
The focus of the OSI team is therefore to complement human expertise with AI tools, rather than aiming to replace human input. In addition, transparency about when and why AI has been used is important for accountability and increasing trust in generated content. As AI continues to evolve, it has the potential to redefine many aspects of scientific communication. By focusing on a responsible approach to AI tool deployment, EMBO aims to take advantage of the benefits of these new technologies while minimizing its drawbacks.