Charting the Path to Open Science: Romania's Strategic Framework
Open science involves a cultural shift, a rethinking of the entire research process to enhance cooperation and knowledge exchange as early and openly as possible in the research stages. In order to set the scene for creating the national conditions for the transition to open science in Romania, a complex process of collaboration with international initiatives and experts in the field, as well as national consultations with the academic, research, development, and innovation community started in 2019, in the context of an ESIF funded project.
The main result of the process is the National Strategic Framework for Open Science which has at its core "The White Paper on the Transition to Open Science (2023-2030)" detailing the implementation of the OS principles, challenges, and actions of Objective 1.2. Ensuring the transition to open science and facilitating the road towards excellence in the scientific part of a bigger national strategy, the National Strategy on Research, Innovation and Smart Specialization for 2022-2027 (adopted by Gov. Decision no. 933 of 20 July 2022).
Provisions in the RDI strategy, Objective 1.2, refer to mandatory OA to the scientific publications resulting from publicly funded research; mandatory DMPs; RDM costs to be supported and become eligible in projects publicly funded; Data to be FAIR & "as open as possible, as closed as necessary"; rethinking the evaluation system; promoting citizen science.
The White Paper was launched in December 2022 and defines a Vision for the time horizon of 2030, the objectives and necessary actions to achieve this Vision, in correlation with international provisions and developments (among these, the EC Recommendation (EU) 2018/790 of 25 April 2018 on access to and preservation of scientific information; UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science, 2021, Council conclusions on Research assessment and implementation of Open Science of June 2022).
The Vision states that "By 2030, the research culture will go through a transformational process towards the openness, reuse, and reproducibility of research results, increasing the transparency, quality, and efficiency of research, enriching knowledge, accelerating innovation and response to the major societal challenges."
In order to achieve the Vision, 8 strategic objectives have been detailed, with corresponding actions:
Strategic Objective 1. "Ensuring OA to scientific publications resulting from publicly funded research" states that this should happen "as soon as possible, preferably at the time of publication, starting with the new research funding cycle, aiming, until 2030, to correlate with the existing best practice at the international level."
Strategic Objective 2. "Research data management and ensuring open access to research data" details the actions needed so that Research Data Management can become a standard scientific practice in the research process while generating, collecting or reusing data. States that responsible data management must be based on a mandatory DMP, ensuring compliance with the FAIR principles, and open access to data must be ensured in compliance with the principle " as open as possible, as closed as necessary."
Strategic objective 3: "Ensuring transparency, equity of the APCs, and of the costs of accessing international scientific databases" describes the necessary steps for ensuring transparency and avoiding double funding with regards to open access scientific publishing and access to scientific databases.
Strategic objective 4. "Developing the infrastructure and services for open science" details actions to promote and support the development of dedicated initiatives, infrastructure, digital repositories, and services to support open access and implement FAIR principles to research results (publications and research data) and the integration into the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) and/or in trustworthy disciplinary databases/platforms.
Strategic Objective 6. "Capacity building to implement Open Science" refers to the development and consolidation of skills needed for open science, especially by the researchers and the staff in the academic and research institutions, but also by other relevant actors, so that an effective transition is supported at the national level, in correlation to the digitalization evolutions, the European recommendations and policies and the best international practices.
Strategic objective 7. "Adapting the process of research assessment and rewarding in the new context of open science" states that "in order for open science to become a reality, it is necessary to change the way in which research is assessed and rewarded. In this sense, a review and update of the current evaluation system are required (of researchers, projects, and research organizations) in order to reward the implementation of open science-specific practices such as the early sharing of research results, open collaboration, open access and the involvement of citizens in science, whenever this is possible. Moreover, such a process must also be accompanied by a transformation of the evaluation system in the sense of recognizing a wider range of results and research activities." The objective proposes actions aligned with international recommendations such as the CoARA's Agreement on Reforming Research Assessment and the Council's conclusions on Research assessment and implementation of Open Science (2022).
Strategic Objective 8. "Involving citizens in science (citizen science)" states that in order to get science closer to society, strengthen citizens' trust in science and the relevance of research in addressing societal challenges, the involvement of citizens in different stages of the scientific research process needs to be supported and encouraged within the research projects financed through the national research funding programs and proposes specific actions in this regard.
The White Paper on the Transition to Open Science 2023-2030 sets also ambition targets for achieving its Vision such as:
(2030) 100% of scientific publications resulting from publicly funded projects are open access.
(2027) 70% of research data is FAIR, and as much as possible open.
(2030) Specific infrastructures, services, and digital repositories are adapted to open science and, where possible, integrated into the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC).
(2026) The national curriculum is adapted to the European data stewards training framework.
(2030) 80% of researchers and staff in academic and research institutions have the necessary skills to implement specific open science practices;
(2026) A more diverse range of open science-specific research activities and outputs are recognized and rewarded in research assessment.
In terms of the process, the Strategic Document on the Development of Open Science in Romania - The White Paper of the Transition to Open Science (2023-2030) was coordinated and developed by the experts involved in the Open Science Knowledge hub – UEFISCDI, as part of the ESIF funded project "Increasing the capacity of the RDI system to respond to global challenges. Consolidation of anticipatory capacity for evidence-based public policy development" - SIPOCA 592 (Activity A4.1 "Development of the strategic and functional framework of open science and open access").
The development of this strategic document is based on a consultation process initiated in 2020 and organized in several rounds (see picture bellow), through a series of workshops and mutual learning, dissemination events, and surveys to understand the needs and level of familiarity with the open science phenomenon. The overall process had the support of the UNESCO Chair on Science and Innovation Policies – SNSPA, Bucharest.
The process of developing the National OS Strategic Framework in Romania
A draft version of the document – the Green Paper of the Transition to Open Science - was subject to a national consultation opened for public feedback between August 18 and September 30, 2022. The consultation was based on a questionnaire which has been promoted by UEFISCDI through various communication channels (including social media) and to targeted stakeholders: national research and development institutes, institutes of the Romanian Academy, universities, publishers, libraries, and the National Council of Rectors and also through the institutional newsletter, which reached approximately 23,000 people registered in the UEFISCDI database. A total of 186 people responded to the questionnaire, the majority coming from universities and R&D institutes, with 56% of respondents declaring their affiliation to universities and 32% to R&D institutes. 4% of respondents specified that they come from private companies or are authorized individuals, 3% indicated the Romanian Academy, 3% other public institutions (from which the Authority for Digitalization of Romania), and 2% from Foundations/ Associations.
As a general conclusion on the public consultation (the report of the consultation is available in Romanian here): in terms of the relevance of the 8 strategic recommendations (now the 8 strategic objectives in the White Paper) for the activities of those involved in the consultation, open access to publications (R1) and transparency and equity in APCs and costs of access to scientific databases (R3) were in the foreground, considered with very high and high relevance for 89% of the respondents, closely followed by R4 on the development of specific infrastructure and R7 on adapting the evaluation process (88% each). Capacity building (R6) and FAIR and open data (R2) are also relevant and very relevant to a large percentage of respondents (87% and 84%, respectively); these are followed by R5 on open science governance (80%) and R8 on citizen science (66%). Therefore, following the public consultation, more than half of the respondents consider all 8 recommendations (strategic objectives) to be very relevant and highly relevant to their activities.
The responses were analyzed by the Open Science Knowledge Hub team and the opinions expressed by the respondents were taken into consideration for the development of the final version of the Strategic Document on the Framework for Open Science Development in Romania – the White Paper on the Transition to Open Science (2023-2030).
Additionally, The Strategic Document on the Development Framework of Open Science in Romania - The White Paper on the Transition to Open Science (2023-2030) is based on analyses and supporting documents developed within the SIPOCA 592 project, which can be consulted on the national portal dedicated to open science developed in the same afore mentioned project and on the UEFISCDI website at https://uefiscdi.gov.ro/open-science-in-romania.
"As a coordinator of this process, I am truly grateful for the mutual exchange and international support received in the initiatives and projects OSKH is part of, which are all mentioned in the White Paper, and I would like to emphasize that our presence in CoNOSC and OpenAIRE had a special role in this.
Moreover, on a more personal note, I express my special thanks to colleagues in OpenAIRE who had a significant impact that may even be unknown to them in terms of raising "awareness" back in 2015, when my first discussions with OpenaAIRE representatives led to me becoming a promoter of Open Science in Romania and to planting the seeds of this process for the national open science strategic framework development."
Alina Irimia, coordinator of the Open Science Strategic Framework Development in Romania, Leader of the Open Science Knowledge Hub – UEFISCDI
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