UNESCO has adopted its Recommendation on Open Science – a major step towards a shared vision for open science worldwide

News from the Committee

At the end of its General Conference on November 24th 2021, UNESCO adopted a Recommendation on Open Science. The text obtained a broad consensus among Member States and through this Recommendation UNESCO has included open science in the humanist values of equity, diversity and free circulation of knowledge that it defends.

This recommendation is the result of a consultation process which began in January 2020. The Committee for Open Science has made a great deal of effort to ensure French higher education and research stakeholders took part in this consultation. This enabled France to construct a strong position and make the country’s voice heard during the negotiations with the support of other Member States.

The Recommendation endorses a broad and inclusive vision of open science integrating the core issues of scientific publications which need to be in open access immediately, data, software and source codes, open hardware and open educational resources. It promotes the open participation of actors from society at large and dialogue with non-academic knowledge systems.

It stresses the importance of the role played by open science infrastructures which should receive sustainable and mainly non-profit-based funding and which should be governed by research communities themselves.

Multilingualism and bibliodiversity are implicitly promoted which includes the diversity of business models for scientific publishing. The recommendation notes the danger that a generalisation of the publication fee model would represent for equality between countries and research structures throughout the world and favours non-profit-making scientific publication models.

The importance of training and education are fully considered. Open science skills should be an integral part of training for researchers while data science and management skills need to be strengthened. Changes to research evaluation systems in line with the San Francisco Declaration are identified as a key incentive. The Recommendation particularly calls for a move towards diversified indicators rather than reliance on the journal impact factor.

Through this recommendation, UNESCO has defined an action plan and the level of ambition required for public open science policies. There are numerous points of convergence with the France’s Second National Plan for Open Science and therefore France is firmly committed to this dynamic going forward.