The EUA Open Science Agenda 2025
The digital revolution is rapidly and profoundly changing the way scientific research is conducted. The relationship between science and society is particularly affected, as reflected in the transformation of scientific research practices, aka Science 2.0, and in the desire to open the methods, results and applications of scientific discoveries to society as a whole, known as Open Science.
EUA started addressing these rapid transformations at an early stage, in order to analyse their impact on the European academic system and to support the transformations at Europe’s universities. We therefore followed a 2008 position paper on Open Access to research publications by constituting a group of Open Science experts, who were appointed by their National Rectors Conferences in 2015. Driven by this Expert Group, the Association conducts periodic surveys, organises workshops and webinars, publishes positions, policy inputs and reports within the framework of a roadmap published in 2016. EUA also builds and develops partnerships with other organisations engaged in Open Science as well as with relevant policy-making bodies, notably the European Commission.
Having started as a push to open up access to scientific publications and software, the scope of Open Science has expanded to include opening access to research data, necessary changes in the way research and researchers are assessed, changes in the law, the inclusion of civil society, etc. Open Science embodies some of the main values of scientific research, notably: freedom of thought and research, individual and institutional autonomy, integrity, ethics, creativity, cooperation, the drive to surpass the current state of the art, the importance of debating contradictory ideas and of refutation (in the sense of Karl Popper’s Falsifikation), and responsibility in conducting research.
However, the long road to Open Science is paved with obstacles: economic, legislative and regulatory, organisational, technical, patrimonial, behavioural. Moreover, like any major ambition, openness can also lead to misuse. This includes increasing pressure to publish (the famous “publish or perish”), the demand for immediacy when research requires a steady ripening of ideas, the erroneous interpretation of research results that have not been fully validated (e.g. through the misuse of pre-prints), the dissemination of fake scientific news, the usurpation of ideas, etc. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stark revelationof the various risks associated with the misuse of Open Science.
EUA has therefore established its Open Science strategy for 2025 with these opportunities and threats in mind. It has three priority areas: Open Access to scholarly outputs, FAIR research data, and institutional approaches to research assessment. The activities that will be carried out for and with European universities will always be in line with the desire to contribute to the strengthening of Open Science, to encourage the development of knowledge with a humanist ambition, and to promote the values of science, while taking potential pitfalls in these processes into account.
Prof. Jean-Pierre Finance
Chair EUA Expert Group on Science 2.0/Open Science
This document presents the EUA Open Science Agenda 2025. It defines the association’s priorities in this field, and describes the current context, challenges, developments envisaged for 2025, and the actions EUA will take to drive this Agenda forward. For each priority area, the proposed actions are structured around the four priorities of the EUA Strategic Plan: (1) advocacy, (2) horizon scanning, (3) European solidarity and (4) enabling enhanced performance. They aim to guide the actions of our membership, leadership and Secretariat.
This document understands Open Science as “an inclusive construct that combines various movements and practices aiming to make multilingual scientific knowledge openly available, accessible and reusable for everyone, to increase scientific collaborations and sharing of information for the benefits of science and society, and to open the processes of scientific knowledge creation, evaluation and communication to societal actors beyond the traditional scientific community. It comprises all scientific disciplines and aspects of scholarly practices, including basic and applied sciences, natural and social sciences and the humanities, and it builds on the following key pillars: open scientific knowledge, open science infrastructures, science communication, open engagement of societal actors and open dialogue with other knowledge systems” (UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science, 2021, p.7).
Open Science goes hand in hand with good scientific practices for all aspects of research, as it builds on and contributes to the quality of research and of scholarly outputs. The concept of open refers to the absence of barriers to accessing information and scholarly outputs (e.g. legal, financial). EUA sees Open Science as a means to an end: a scholarly system which ensures “that knowledge and understanding created by researchers [are] treated as public goods, available for the benefit of members of society as a whole, to enhance the wellbeing of human beings across the planet” (Future of scholarly publishing and scholarly communication, 2019, p. 25). Open Science is instrumental in addressing global challenges and enhancing wellbeing. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated the need for and benefits of opening knowledge up, and of openly sharing research data, research results, and the whole research process. Open Science supports social responses to the political, social and environmental challenges our societies face.