Open science refers to the unhindered dissemination of results, methods and products from scientific research. It draws on the opportunity provided by recent digital progress to develop open access to publications and – as much as possible – data, source code and research methods. It is a means for publicly funded research projects to retain control over the results they produce. It builds an ecosystem in which science becomes better substantiated and more transparent, reproducible, effective and cumulative. It aims to democratize access to knowledge, which is useful for teaching and training, and for the economy, public policy, citizens and society as a whole. Finally, it constitutes a lever for scientific integrity and builds citizen trust in science.
The French Plan for Open Science has provided France with a coherent and dynamic policy in the field of open science. It was announced in 2018 by the Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, Frédérique Vidal, and is coordinated by the Committee for Open Science, which brings together the Ministry, the universities and research performing organizations and the scientific community. Substantial progress has been made in the three years since this policy was introduced. The percentage of open access scientific publications in France has risen from 41% to 56%. Once the National Fund for Open Science had been created, it launched two calls for projects to promote open science publication and provided support for international structuring initiatives. The French National Research Agency (Agence nationale de la recherche, ANR) and other funding agencies now ask the projects they fund to make the publications available in open access and draw up data management plans. The position of Chief Data Officer has been created in the Ministry and a network of such Chief Data Officers is currently being deployed in the establishments. Around twenty universities and research organisations now have an open science policy. Several guides and recommendations for putting open science into practice have been published.
The progress already made and the changes in the international context induced us to extend, renew and strengthen our commitments by adopting a Second French Plan for Open Science, which will take effect until 2024. With this new plan, France is continuing its ambitious trajectory initiated by the Digital Republic Act of 2016 and confirmed by the Research Programming Law of 2020, which includes open science as one of the missions of researchers.
This Second French Plan extends the scope to include source code from research, structures actions promoting data sharing and openness through the creation of the Recherche Data Gouv platform, increases the number of transformative levers available to generalise the practice of open science and is divided up into different disciplines and themes. It is firmly attached to a European-wide vision and, in the context of the French presidency of the European Union, proposes to act in favour of open science being effectively taken into account in both individual and collective assessments for research. This involves initiating a process of sustainable transformation in order to ensure that open science becomes a common and shared practice, encouraged by the whole international ecosystem of higher education, research and innovation.
The practice of providing open access to scientific publications should now be inescapable, whether this is done by initially publishing the text as open access or by placing it in an open public archive such as HAL. The aim set by the Research Programming Law is to achieve 100% open access publications by 2030.
The conditions set by the French National Research Agency and the European Union in the context of the Horizon Europe programme contribute greatly to this aim. The obligation to publish as open access should now be generalised to cover all research funding through publicly funded calls for projects, for both books and scientific articles.
Since 2018, many research funding agencies federated in cOAlition S have implemented, through Plan S, a common framework committing them to make all publications from research they have funded immediately and obligatorily available as open access. To achieve this goal, cOAlition S has adopted a rights retention strategy which enables researchers to disseminate their open-source texts without delay, also when publishing in a subscription-only journal. In France we support this new step towards meeting the objectives of Plan S.
In line with the Jussieu Call for Open Science and Bibliodiversity, the scientific community should endeavour to build an ecosystem of open, ethical and transparent scientific publishing, involving a plurality of editorial stakeholders, formats and languages. A particularly important issue is that of diversifying the economic models for open scientific publishing. Indeed, the risks associated with the publication fee model (involving the payment of article or book processing charges), such as the budgetary burden, growing inequalities between institutions and disciplines and the race to produce quantity, are being ever better understood.
However, 75% of open access journals can be classed as ‘Diamond’ journals. These are steered by the scientific community and are not funded by direct contributions from authors, nor by mandatory contributions from readers. Instead, the publication costs are covered beforehand by the State, a university, a consortium of public establishments or a non-profit organisation. The recently produced OA Diamond Journals Study, carried out by request of cOAlition S, demonstrated the scope and strategic nature of these journals, and it makes recommendations that France intends to support and enact. The academic presses, attached to universities or research organisations, will be strengthened, modernised and encouraged to join forces to succeed in their transition towards open access. HAL, the French national open archive, will continue to play a key role and will be improved ergonomically and functionally to make it easier for researchers and institutions to use.
Although the Helsinki Initiative on Multilingualism in Scholarly Communication stressed the importance of native languages to engender a social anchoring of scientific knowledge and a plurality of thought systems, language barriers impede the international circulation of knowledge, which is just as important. However, recent spectacular progress in translation technologies using artificial intelligence should allow us to resolve this contradiction. Support will be provided for experimentation with translation tools and services for scientific texts, in order to encourage international dissemination of scientific works originally in the French language and to facilitate access to scientific works written in foreign languages for the French-speaking public.
1. Generalise the obligation to publish in open access all articles and books resulting from publicly funded calls for proposals.
2. Support open access economic publishing models that do not require the payment of articles or books processing charges (“diamond” model).
3. Encourage multilingualism and the circulation of scientific knowledge by translating publications by French researchers.
Continue developing the HAL national open archive
Extend the global influence of French research publications
Structure, support and modernise French scientific publishing
Support open science in Human and Social Sciences
Our aim is to ensure that the data produced by French public research is progressively structured to conform to the FAIR principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable), safely preserved and, wherever possible, open to all.
The obligation to open up public research data, required in the Digital Republic Act of 2016, should now be enacted in scientific practice with the help of appropriate infrastructures and support services. This obligation is limited by legitimate exceptions as defined by the law. For example, exceptions can be made for professional confidentiality, industrial and trade secrets, personal data and copyright-protected content. In these cases, data sharing practices should still be encouraged by defining the procedures to follow.
In order to implement the national policy on data, algorithms and source code as requested by the Prime Minister, a national Chief Data Officer will mediate a network of similar Chief Officers working in the executive team of the higher education and research institutions. Through their coordinated actions, the data, source code and algorithms from French public research will be preserved, referenced, described and promoted under open licenses.
Recherche Data Gouv, a federated national platform for research data, will be created to include all research fields in the active practice of producing open data. Recherche Data Gouv will provide a multidisciplinary data repository to complement the national and European infrastructures already used by some scientific disciplines. It will offer a catalogue that signposts users to data hosted on other trustworthy sites, and when finished, it will provide a single location to promote visibility for all French research data. The repository and catalogue will be entrusted to INRAE with support from universities and other research performing organisations and will serve the national scientific community as a whole. To support and advise researchers throughout the data lifecycle, ‘data workshops’ will be organised across the country involving a wide range of professions. Thematic reference centres will conceive and issue repositories and best practices for research fields or disciplines. Recherche Data Gouv is founded on shared governance by stakeholders in French higher education and research, and will guarantee that the scientific community retains sovereignty over the data it produces.
The actions involved in managing, preserving, opening up and sharing data also contribute to the progress of scientific research. They make it possible to share the effort of collecting data within the scientific community, and to consolidate and multiply the results of using them. With this in mind, all practices that promote the reuse of research data will be encouraged through the creation of a prize for teams which carry out exemplary work in this domain.
France will continue to provide support for the Research Data Alliance (RDA), an international network that defines best practices in the domain of research data.
4. Implement the obligation to disseminate publicly funded research data.
5. Create Recherche Data Gouv, the federated national platform for research data.
6. Promote widespread adoption of data policies that cover the whole lifecycle of research data, to ensure that they are Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR).
Develop and structure the range of support and tools on offer to researchers
Give recognition to and boost the reuse of research data
Coordinate and promote open data policies
Encourage health research projects to sign up to open science
Software plays a key role in scientific research, and it can be a tool, a result, and a research object. Making software source code available, with the option of modifying, reusing and disseminating them, is a major requirement to ensure the reproducibility of scientific findings and to support the creation and sharing of knowledge, in keeping with the open science ethos.
In order to implement the national policy on data, algorithms and source code as requested by the Prime Minister, we aim to ensure that the source code and software produced through French public research are developed, sustainably maintained, preserved and treasured. As such, the remit of Chief Data Officer in the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation has been expanded to include algorithms and source code from research.
Scientific software stacks are hugely complex and sometimes combine hundreds of programs representing millions, even tens of millions of lines of code. Efforts to develop these stacks should be pooled at the scale of the international scientific community in the widest sense: academics, industry and citizens. This impetus has today become a key lever in research and innovation. Also, priority will be given to the dissemination of software productions as open source software – published under a license recognised by the Free Software Foundation and Open Source Initiative, in compliance with the legal constraints.
France will support the development and preservation of source code – inseparable from the support of humanity’s technical and scientific knowledge – and it will, from this position, continue its support for the Software Heritage universal archive. So as to create an ecosystem that connects code, data and publications, the collaboration between the national open archive HAL, the national research data platform Recherche Data Gouv, the scientific publishing sector and Software Heritage will be strengthened.
In order to increase the visibility of software and recognise its contribution to research, a catalogue of these productions will be built and made widely accessible. An open source research software prize will be created to showcase and award teams who carry out exemplary work in this field.
To facilitate the coordination of the open source software communities at a national and international level, a Source Code and Software College will be created within the Committee for Open Science. Links will also be forged between the Open Software Task Force at the French Interministerial Directorate for Digital Technology, and the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), the Research Data Alliance (RDA), the Research Software Alliance and FORCE 11.
7. Recognize and support the dissemination under an open source license of software produced by publicly funded research programmes.
8. Highlight the production of source code from higher education, research and innovation.
9. Define and promote an open source software policy.
Define and promote an open source software policy
Recognise source code as a contribution to research
Coordinate the communities that use source code and open source software
Build an ecosystem that connects code, data and publications
Encourage crossovers between open science and artificial intelligence
Open science should become the default principle for researchers and it should constitute a criteria of excellence in research, as is now the case in the Horizon Europe programme. For this, the higher education and research ecosystem must be transformed to align the incentives, strengthen capacity and increase recognition of the efforts made.
To ensure these practices persist over time, the assessment system for researchers, laboratories, universities and research performing organizations must be changed so that it becomes coherent with the principles of open science. In line with the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) and the Leiden Manifesto for Research Metrics, this involves reducing the importance of the quantitative aspect to the benefit of a more qualitative approach taking into account – beyond what publications do – the plurality of research findings, making reasoned use of indicators and rewarding cooperation and openness over competitiveness and secrecy. As part of the French Presidency of the European Union, France intends to hold a European event to promote open science at the Académie des sciences (Paris). It will also encourage the creation of a coalition of European researchers who commit to implementing operational, reciprocal and legible transformations in their assessment practices.
To transform daily practices, the concept of open science should be present throughout the research training programmes, from bachelor’s degree level to senior researchers, with an emphasis on the strategic stage of the doctorate. The management and opening up of research data requires new skills and leads to the emergence of new professions which are important to develop, recognise and value.
Aligning the assessment and training policies will make it possible to reduce the contradictory demands to which researchers have been subject, so that the benefits of open science are fully understood. With this objective in mind, researchers’ access to public data and private data of general interest will be made easier, through the creation of a mediator for data of general interest. Adopting open licenses for data, publications and source code will help to free up the circulation of scientific findings, and the generalisation of the ORCID identifier for researchers will consolidate their digital identity and increase the visibility of their work.
To meet the ambitious objectives of this new plan, open science policies should be strengthened and amplified. The National Fund for Open Science will be continued and its field of action expanded. We propose that funding from the PIA is used to intensify and diversity its actions. A firm commitment from universities and research performing organizations to formalise and implement open science policies will enable their widespread territorial deployment. In parallel, France will increase its presence in the international bodies for open science, particularly the EOSC, to support the construction of an effective, regulated, transparent and resilient ecosystem, which serves to help the scientific community and society as a whole.
Finally, open science policies must be better monitored and their impacts measured through a consolidation of the Open Science Barometer and an expansion of its scope to include new aspects. These policies will be informed by contributions from research, through the creation of an Open Science Lab dedicated to developing “research on research”, and through the launch of a dedicated call for proposals by the French National Research Agency.
10. Develop and value open science skills throughout the educational and career pathways of students and research staff.
11. Value open science and the diversity of scientific productions in the assessment of researchers of projects and of universities and research performing organizations.
12. Triple the budget for open science through the National Fund for Open Science and the Investments for the Future Programme.
Recognise open science in assessments
Develop and recognise the skills and professions of open science
Encourage stakeholders in higher education and research to adopt an open science policy
Simplify researchers’ lives through open science
Participate in the European and international open science landscape
Develop the Open Science Barometer as a tool for monitoring, observing and measuring the impact of open science.
Develop research on research in order to advance open science
Support the development of open science in the field of climate, earth systems and biodiversity studies, in line with the climate law
Make use of the research infrastructures which have signed up with the national road map to transform practices and generalise open science