Progress on Open Science: Towards a Shared Research Knowledge System
Final Report of the Open Science Policy Platform
This final report of the EU Open Science Policy Platform (OSPP) provides a brief overview of its four-year mandate from 2016 to 2020, followed by an update on progress by each stakeholder group over the past two years since the publication of the OSPP’s recommendations across the European Commission’s eight ambitions on Open Science, (OSPP-REC https://ec.europa.eu/research/openscience/pdf/integrated_advice_opspp_recommendations.pdf). This summary of Practical Commitments for Implementation with specific examples of progress by each stakeholder community across Europe (see Annex A) is followed by a perspective from each group on the major outstanding blockers to progress and possible next steps. The group of 25 key stakeholder representatives have then come together to propose a vision for moving beyond Open Science to create a shared research knowledge system by 2030.
Practical Commitments for Implementation
Across the stakeholder communities, our assessment suggests that there is reasonable progress on rewards and incentives, with some new initiatives starting to move into the implementation phase. A similar level of progress is being made in next-generation metrics although some stakeholders feel that progress here has now started to move towards adoption.
The European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) will be moving into the implementation phase in 2021 and this was recognised by many of the stakeholders. Key to the success of the EOSC is that the research community is making their data FAIR, and so it is reassuring that most of the stakeholders felt that FAIR data is moving beyond implementation to adoption and even to becoming common practice. There are substantial differences in both progress and awareness however, among disciplines.
There seems to be a general consensus that the future of scholarly communication has started to move from planning to implementation and even adoption of more open practices. This shift in focus, especially in the publishing community, has been significantly assisted by cOAlition S https://www.coalition-s.org and the associated Plan S.
There is an interesting disparity in views on progress on research integrity. Universities and research performing organisations, researchers, and scientific societies and academies view progress at the level of adoption or even being common practice. By contrast, research funding organisations, research libraries, policy making organisations, and publishers feel there is still much to do, suggesting that our progress is still at the earlier stages of discussion, planning and implementation. Similarly, in skills and education on Open Science, research performing organisations and libraries feel they have now progressed this to the level of adoption, whereas many of the other stakeholders feel we are still in the discussion, planning or implementation phase.
Finally, while the citizen science community believes that Citizen Science across Europe is at the level of adoption, the rest of the stakeholders have evaluated progress as being still in the early stages of discussion, planning and some initial implementation. This may again reflect disciplinary differences.
Disparity in the assessment of progress between stakeholders suggests that there is a need for greater discussion between communities to better understand the different opinions. Without a common view on the challenges and progress, the danger is a divergence in implementation and a polarization between actors.
Some stakeholders view the progress of other actors as insufficient, even where those actors feel they have made significant advances. For real progress to happen, stakeholders need to come together to have constructive dialogue to understand each others’ perspective.
Another area where significant progress needs to be made is in addressing the dilemma faced by business and industry in adopting Open Science practices and principles whilst fulfilling requirements for Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and commercial practices. Since much of the funding and innovation in research involves industry, there is an urgent need for a debate and discussion between academia and industry concerning the Open Science challenges in public-private partnerships. It is especially important to develop a general framework ensuring that the open diffusion of knowledge does not disadvantage players that are already underprivileged.
Moving beyond Open Science to a shared research knowledge system by 2030
Even though the tools and technology to enable Open Science has been available for almost two decades, progress has been slower than anticipated and there remain real obstacles to overcome. Notably, there is a disparity in progress and motivation among different disciplines and institutions, among different actors and organisations, and among researchers at different stages of their career. This is compounded by a lack of policy alignment across local, regional, national and international jurisdictions, such as across Member States, and no clear legal or regulatory framework, often associated with insufficient cost/benefit analysis of Open Science requirements.
Open Science for its own sake has never been the goal. While a focus on Open Science as a mechanism must be emphasised in any transition, Open Science must ultimately be embedded as part of a larger more systemic effort to foster all practices and processes that enable the creation, contribution, discovery and reuse of research knowledge more reliably, effectively and equitably. Research cannot be ‘excellent’ without such attributes at its core.
As representatives of key stakeholders in the research system, we call on all European Member States and other relevant actors from the public and private sectors to help co-create, develop and maintain a ‘Research System based on shared knowledge’ by 2030. As a start, we commit to working together to implement a system with the five attributes outlined below.
1. An academic career structure that fosters outputs, practices and behaviours to maximise contributions to a shared research knowledge system. To this end, in discussion with the OSPP, the Research Data Alliance has committed to spearhead a new collaborative platform www.openscienceregistry.org to share both the intention and outcomes of pilots and other initiatives taken by different actors that specifically address the academic reward system. All Member States will have the opportunity to contribute to this so that everyone can benefit from the innovation of others by sharing what works and what doesn’t in different contexts.
2. A research system that is reliable, transparent and trustworthy. To achieve this, Member States should agree to coordinate a series of workshops to research, develop, implement, test and share a minimum set of community-based standards of research integrity, specific to different disciplines where relevant. In particular, they should ensure there is training, support, monitoring and appropriate enforcement of research integrity standards for researchers at publicly funded institutions and in the practice, communication and/or publication of Open Science outputs of publicly funded research.
3. A research system that enables innovation. Five key elements were identified as necessary to facilitate such a research system:
- Clear relevant policies that aim to increase the availability and reuse of research knowledge and technology in a global competitive context;
- A global interoperable infrastructure of tools, services, hardware and software;
- lear regulatory frameworks to manage each stakeholder’s interests for the collective good;
- A transparent competitive market;
- A shared research system based on reciprocity.
4. A research culture that facilitates diversity and equity of opportunity. To enable such a culture to develop, all actors need to work together to articulate the shared values for a shared global research knowledge system and to create a legal and social framework within which these values can be implemented.
5. A research system that is built on evidence- based policy and practice. To enable this, we recommend that a coordinated strategy for funding and delivering a programme of ‘research on research’ is developed, including identifying priority areas for investigation, involving representatives from the key stakeholders in research: researchers, funding agencies, institutions, publishers, learned societies and others. This could be a pilot, time- limited activity in the first instance to consider how it works.
© European Union, 2020