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Declining Open Science into specific disciplines. The webinar series for Earth and Environmental Sciences


No doubt Open Science is a cross-cutting movement, touching all fields of knowledge and scholarly communication. And adopting a more open and transparent approach in science has broad and transversal motivations. But there are many aspects that are specific for different disciplines and research areas. In particular when looking at practical aspects on how to concretely realize open science and open access. When practically applying OS, at a certain point discipline-specific resources - such as repositories or research infrastructures - can be required.

This is the basic idea behind the webinar "Open Science: how to give open access to knowledge. A focus on Earth and environmental sciences", held on May 14 and attended by 128 persons (mostly researchers). The webinar was organized by two institutes of the Italian National Research Council (CNR) through the Italian OpenAIRE NOAD.

It is the first of a series dedicated to research communities within CNR, but open to researchers from other RPOs. The envisaged format is a cycle of two hours events (1,5-hour presentations and 30 minutes for discussion), the first one being introductory and motivational seminar on the reasons behind Open Science and why it is worth to embrace it, followed by a course for the specific community on OS in collaboration with the related Research Infrastructures, and closing with a workshop on a specific topic, chosen in relation to the specific research community.

After the first introductory webinar held for Earth and environmental sciences community, an evaluation form was circulated and nearly half of the participants to the webinar completed the form. A lot of interesting feedbacks were collected. The vast majority of them were professors and teachers (67%), followed by a fair share of early career researchers and PhD students (21%), while between others there were a librarian, some research support staff, and a manager. 55% of respondents said to have an intermediate knowledge of OS and the topics covered, and another 43% declared a very limited knowledge of those issues.

The community was fully engaged and in general positive evaluations were received on the materials provided (in particular the slides of the presentations and the document with written answers to the questions received were appreciated). For 81% of participants, the webinar was of the right duration and the overall programme was highly appreciated by 82% of the respondents.

The participants were also asked what the main take-home message of the seminar was for them. The answers ranged from the general interest in continuing to explore the topic to more practical aspects such as the importance of data management. Someone mentioned the acquired awareness to go beyond the economic interests of scientific publications in order to make science really available for everyone, while the opportunities of Green OA and a clear difference between Gold and Green OA were mentioned by others. The most appreciated aspect of the webinar was the clarity of the presentations, mentioned in one-third of the comments received.

But the evaluation of research was, of course, the most discussed issue, both during the live discussion, with the questions asked and in the comments left in the evaluation form. This aspect is deeply perceived as the bottleneck for the effective transition to open science.

Moreover, participants asked in many cases for specific insights and details for their sector (Earth and environmental science). So the intention is to address the request for further field-specific insights with the research infrastructure of the sector (in this case EPOS) in the Open Science course to be held in September. The workshop at the end of the course will be focused on the feedbacks from this specific community on the research evaluation aspects to be considered.

And always with a view to declining open science to specific disciplinary areas, in this period we are also working on a series of events in the health sector. In collaboration with Elixir, the Italian OpenAIRE NOAD is organizing a cycle of webinars on the importance of sharing research results (data, publications, software, etc..) related to COVID-19 disease and SARS-CoV-2 virus, given the current global outbreak. The format we are working on is an introductory webinar (scheduled for July 21), which is intended to offer the participants a deep understanding of the motivations behind the sharing of data and other research results, followed by a set of specific tutorials that will separately train on how to correctly manage, curate and share different kinds of COVID-19 related data.

After that, we will gradually focus on other research communities. 

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