Open science policies in Europe - Editor Resources

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Introduction to the European Open Science Policy

Updates from Prof. Jean-Claude Burgelman, Open Access Envoy, European Commission

Prof. Dr. Jean-Claude Burgelman is the Open Access Envoy at the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation at the European Commission. He recently spoke at the Taylor & Francis Amsterdam Scholarly Summit, sharing insights on why Europe needs an open science policy, what the European Commission’s key priorities are in this policy, and how open science can benefit researchers.

What is open science?

The term ‘open science’ encompasses various movements which aim to make publicly-funded research outputs freely available to the public.

These open movements include:

  • Open access
  • Open data
  • Open source
  • Open peer review
  • Open notebooks
  • Open monographs
  • Open educational resources
  • Citizen science

Why does Europe need an open science policy?

Download the “Why does Europe need open science policies?” transcript here

Prof. Burgelman explains that open science can lead to better return on investment from public funding, and opening up the knowledge base could even generate more innovation.

Europe needs an open science policy in order to address cross-disciplinary challenges. For example, to study the impact of city pollution on lung disease across Europe, researchers would need to collect and analyse three sets of data from medicine, environment, and transport. To enable this process, the cross-disciplinary data would need to be available in a compatible and accessible format. Without standard open science policies across Europe, research like this would be impossible.

What are the priorities in the European open science policy framework?

Download the “The European Open Science Policy Platform” transcript here

The European Commission interviewed researchers, funders, and evaluators across Europe to understand the key issues in open science. Based on this research, the following priorities have been proposed to address the transition of how research is carried out and shared:

Open access

Under the current framework of the European Commission, open access publication is mandatory. The recommendation, scientific information, and directive of the open access program have also been accepted recently, so open data is now also mandatory for all member states.

A second version of the European Commission’s open access publishing platform will also be launched soon. Similar to what the Wellcome Trust and Gates Foundation offer to their beneficiaries, the Commission will offer an open access publication platform for high-quality journals.

FAIR data principles

The FAIR data principles are a set of guidelines aiming to make research data Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable. FAIR data principles are mandatory in the European Open Science Policy.

Open Science Cloud

The European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) is a European Commission project to provide a public data repository that complies with open science policies.

The idea behind the Open Science Cloud is to create a management system for all data. It’s a federated approach to data management and data availability. The objective is to adapt research infrastructures for open science and develop a common and federated European framework for publicly-funded research data.

Indicators and Open Science Monitor

The main objective for indicators is to develop and deploy, for the development of open science, non-traditional metrics that cover not just citation of articles.

Indicators that offer a better measurement of scientific activity is vital to make the transition to open science. The Open Science Monitor is launched to provide data and insight to understand the development of open science in Europe, and gather the most relevant and timely indicators on open science development in Europe and other global partner countries.

The Open Science Monitor will also support the European Commission initiatives such as the Open Science Policy Platform and the Open Science Cloud.

Citizen science

Citizen science refers to public involvement in data collection, analysis, or reporting. In Europe, it will be around four to five big societal challenges, such as climate change, healthy food, and clean planet. Technological advancement and open data will enable scientists and the general public to work together and contribute to the scientific process and solutions for big societal challenges. In that sense, open science offers huge opportunities for public involvement in the scientific process.

Rewards and skills

The main objective for this priority is to encourage and support researchers to practice open science, with a focus on research performing and funding organizations.

If the whole science system in Europe uses FAIR data, Europe will need around 500,000 data scientists to take care of the tsunami of data. People with data analysis and management skills are in demand, and this is where libraries have an enormous challenge and opportunity. Librarians and information professionals should be equipped with the right skills to meet this challenge.

Open Science and Plan S

Download the “Open Science and Plan S” transcript here

Green or gold publications was the big discussion back in 2008 with minimum pilot testing. Prof. Burgelman thinks it’s quite a spectacular progress that 10 years later, open access and open data have been made mandatory, and open science becomes mainstream for research funding. .

Prof. Burgelman explains that as a pan-European public service, the European Commission has not signed up to the cOAlition Plan S. But they are advocating the second version in the Commission’s own work programs, and they are now translating the key issues into legal text, such as no more embargo and full copyright retention. On the other hand, he suggests hybrid journals should be allowed to honor the transformative agreements. Although open data should be mandatory, researchers can opt out if for privacy, military, and other IP reasons and a data management plan should still be proposed nevertheless. It will also be mandatory to use the European Open Science Cloud as the environment for data repository or to standardize data and data access.

What does the open science policy mean for researchers?

Download the “What does the open science policy mean for researchers?” transcript here

With open access and open data being made mandatory, what are the implications and benefits for researchers? Prof. Burgelman lists six main benefits for researchers and some requirements for researchers to get ready for an open research environment.

Benefits for researchers:

  • Faster publication: Immediate open access to publications will allow researchers to have their results quicker.
  • Bigger impact: The open access publications get quoted two to three times more than articles behind paywalls.
  • New career paths: It will also open new career paths. The National Science Foundation asks for what five most important projects for researchers are. The project can be an article, an algorithm, a piece of software or database. Some of the researchers will publish not only articles, but also datasets or algorithms. Nowadays, statistics is the most cited part of the articles. Hence data science can be a new career path.
  • Richer publication opportunities and broader publication portfolio.
  • Easier to find reviewers and better recognition: The peer review system started as an open scientific discussion. If peer review is made openly available, the system gets more transparent. The reviewers can get the recognition they deserve, and editors will have less difficulty in finding peer reviewers.
  • More research potential in social sciences: Data science offers an enormous opportunity because it allows researchers to do things which were never possible before in social sciences, namely, having a vast empirical basis to do the analysis.

Other implications:

  • As open data becomes mandatory, researchers need to make data management plans that meet the FAIR standards.
  • There will be new ways to measure research impact and to translate it into indicators for rewards.
  • Research flows in most discipline may become massively online accessible. All Science will be data driven, so data science literacy should become a mandatory course at least at the doctoral level.

Final thoughts

Prof. Burgelman encourages researchers to see the bigger picture of this evolution and support open research. By working within the open science policy framework and the wider Horizon Europe program, researchers will benefit from Europe-wide career paths, more networking and cooperation between research institutions, more funding opportunities and quality-oriented infrastructure in Europe.


View other resources from the Taylor & Francis Amsterdam Scholarly Summit.

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