Open Tools (6): Open Thesis Project

The series Open Tools presents openly available tools supporting mostly qualitative SAP research. This post is about the project Offene Doktorarbeit (Open Thesis) by Christian Heise.

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Christian Heise (Photo: CC-BY)

So far, this series presented interesting and openly available tools for SAP researchers. This time we peak into another research community and find a particularly inspirational use of open tools. In his dissertation on “Open Science”, political scientist Christian Heise used a number of open tools to make his research process as transparent as possible.

In 2013, Heise began to take notes on his ideas and the progress of his literature research in an openly accessible GoogleDocs document. Later on he experimented with the writing platform authorea.com, but eventually migrated his project to the software development platform GitHub, where it is possible to trace every change he made to his document during the entire writing process. Besides his text, Heise also anonymized and uploaded his survey data from more than 1,000 respondents. After some legal battles with his examination office, Heise was allowed to license his dissertation drafts under a Creative Commons CC-BY-SA license, which allows others to take his material, to manipulate and redistribute it and even to use it for commercial purposes.

When reflecting on his work in an interview with SAP community member Leonhard Dobusch (in German), Heise does not recall any negative outcomes of his open writing process (aside from some additional efforts for his tool setup), but emphasizes the great number of people he was able to reach with his work even before it was finished. He concludes his experiment with the findings that although he piloted open writing with his four year dissertation project, it could very well be adapted to smaller projects like essays or seminar papers for (own addition: SAP) researchers.

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Reach of the Open Thesis website (orange = page impressions; green = visits; red = unique users; purple = returning visitors; Figure: CC-BY-SA)

(Maximilian Heimstädt)

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About m.heimstaedt

Maximilian Heimstädt is a post-doctoral researcher at the Reinhard Mohn Institute of Management at Witten/Herdecke University. In his research he explores the genesis and effects of openness as an organizing principle. He lives in Witten, Germany.
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