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Open Science Conference, Ljubljana, 22 May 2019


The Faculty of Arts of the University of Ljubljana and OpenAIRE-Advance National Open Access Desk organized a conference on open science within the 10th Academic Book Fair.

Open science aspects were presented by distinguished international experts, Slovenian high-level officials and experts chaired the presentations and discussion:
  • Open science in the European Research Area – speaker Dr Dr René von Schomberg, Head of the Open Science Unit, Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, European Commission; chair Dr Tomaž Boh, Director-General, Science Directorate, Ministry of Education, Science and Sport;
  • Plan S – speaker Prof David Sweeney, Executive Chair, Research England, Co-Chair of Science Europe Plan S Taskforce; chair Prof József Györkös, Director, Slovenian Research Agency;
  • FAIR and open research data – speaker Dr Ingrid Dillo, Deputy Director, DANS (Data Archiving and Networked Services), The Netherlands, FAIRsFAIR Project Coordinator; chair Dr Branimir L Leskošek, Faculty of Medicine of the University of Ljubljana, ELIXIR Slovenia;
  • European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) – speaker Dr Juan Bicarregui, Head of the Data Services Division, Scientific Computing Department, Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), United Kingdom, EOSCpilot Project Coordinator, Member of the EOSC Executive Board; chair Peter Sterle, Science Directorate, Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, representative of Slovenia in the EOSC Governance Board.

Presentations and videos are available at the conference web page.

Welcome addresses

Prof Roman Kuhar, Dean of the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ljubljana, reflected on the latest developments in scholarly communication. Coalition of European research funders, including the Slovenian Research Agency, published Plan S in September 2018. Considering the malpractices, we need a radical change in scholarly communication system. Yet it is feared that Plan S will forbid researchers to publish in current journals and will jeopardise internationalisation. Financial burden is being transferred from readers to authors. Other burning issues are research assessment and »publish or perish« culture. The bottom line is that science should serve the society, not the capital.

Prof Zoran Stančič, Head of the European Commission's Representation in Slovenia, pointed out the wider context of (open) science in Slovenia and internationally, which is radically changing. According to the indicators, Slovenia is a strong innovator, growth is moderate. Within the European semester it became evident that Slovenia is not spending 3% BDP for research and innovation. Research and innovation systems in Slovenia are not efficient. Regarding scientific excellence, measured as the share of publications in 10% most cited publications worldwide, Slovenia lags behind the EU average, taking the 17th position. Cooperation with foreign authors is above average. There is not enough support for young researchers. Slovenia is too closed for foreign researchers and not attractive for foreign postdoctoral students. All this influences the Slovenian economy.

Transition into open science is not without problems. International guidelines are available. Universities should adopt open science principles into their internal documents and transform the processes. This will bring about the advancement of science.

Open Science – European Commission policies and perspectives

The first four European Commission open science policy priorities concern use and management of research results (i.e., FAIR data, European Open Science Cloud, assessment indicators, and future of scholarly communication). The other four policy priorities aim at alignment of research partners (i.e., rewards and incentives, research integrity, open science skills and education, citizen science).

In Horizon Europe Framework Programme, open science is to become the modus operandi. Plan S principles for full and immediate open access to publications will be incorporated in Horizon Europe.
Research data will be open by default (exceptions possible), with mandatory Data Management Plans. Use of European Open Science Cloud will be required in some Work Programmes.

The Open Science Policy Platform is an advisory body for the European Commission for co-development and co-implementation of open science policies in the European Research Area. The Open Science Monitor enables quantitative and qualitative insights into the developments of open science. The European Commission is collaborating with G7 on establishing global open science environment and with OECD on FAIR and open research data.

Dr Dr René von Schomberg

Plan S: Should scientific publishers be forced to go to open access?

After all the open access developments since 2002, the majority of peer-reviewed articles is still behind a paywall (e.g., 76% articles published in 2016). Therefore, cOAlition S published Plan S in September 2018 with the objective for a full and immediate open access to publications resulting from publicly funded research. Shift towards new models of academic publishing is planned, to create a scholarly communication system that is more transparent, efficient and fair. Young scholars shall have opportunities to excel and advance their careers.

According to Plan S, authors/institutions shall retain copyright and licence the peer-reviewed articles with Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) 4.0 license. The three compliant routes are open access journals and open access platforms, deposition of scholarly articles in open access repositories without embargo, and hybrid journals under transformative agreements.

Regarding Article Processing Charges (APC), cOAlition S recognises the importance of 'fee-free' open access journals and platforms ('free to read – free to publish'). When applicable, APCs have to reflect the actual costs involved in the quality assurance, editing and publishing process. Open access publication costs and fees need to be fully transparent. They will be monitored.

Transformative agreements with publishers for Publish and Read are to be temporary and transitional, with the aim to constrain costs of scholarly communication.

cOAlition S published revised Plan S and implementation guidelines on 31 May 2019.

Prof David Sweeney

Sharing research data: A FAIRytale?

DANS is an institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and of the Dutch Research Council (NWO). Its main mission is to promote and provide permanent access to FAIR digital research resources. DANS is acting as coordinator of FAIRsFAIR project, which will also offer practical FAIR guidance to the European open science stakeholders.

Data sharing is important to enable replication and validation of research outcomes as well as reuse of data. Researchers generally support the idea of open research data but are hesitant in practice, main reasons being intellectual property or confidentiality issues, ethical concerns, fear of misinterpretation or misuse, and concern of being scooped. To enable and promote data sharing, infrastructures, awareness raising and training of researchers as well as culture change are needed.

There are FAIR definitions and many recommendations available, for example FAIR data principles, FAIR guiding principles, FAIR metrics group, The internet of FAIR data, tools and services (GO FAIR), Guidelines on FAIR data management in Horizon 2020, and report Turning FAIR into reality – key points to make FAIR a reality.

The Guidelines to FAIRify data management and make data reusable list 20 recommendations to ensure Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable research data. The important prerequisite is investment in people and infrastructure.
The guidelines for Findable suggest to use persistent identifiers, cite research data, use persistent author identifiers, and choose an appropriate metadata schema.
To ease Accessibility, choose a trustworthy repository, clearly state accessibility, use an embargo when needed, and follow standardised exchange protocols.
To enable Interoperability, establish well documented machine-actionable APIs, use open well-defined vocabularies, document metadata models, prescribe and use interoperable data standards, establish processes to enhance data quality, and prescribe and use future-proof file formats.
Regarding Reusability, the Guidelines recommend to document data systematically, follow naming conventions, use common file formats, maintain data integrity, and license for reuse.

Dr Ingrid Dillo

European Open Science Cloud (EOSC): What's next?

The EOSC Implementation Roadmap from March 2018 states that the EOSC will enable a virtual environment with free, open and seamless services for 1.7 million European researchers and 70 million professionals in science and technology, and ensure global leadership of the European Union in research data management.

Vertical domain specific research infrastructures will be clustered in the EOSC and overlaid by horizontal generic e-infrastructures to enable greater sharing of resources and data. The infrastructure will be invisible to the researcher while enabling virtual research environment.

The EOSC governance is composed of the Governance Board (representatives of the EU Member States and the European Commission), the Executive Board (stakeholders' representatives) and Stakeholders Forum.

Key topics for further discussion on the EOSC are:
  • Practical implementation of the FAIR research data;
  • Federation or merging of resources, one EOSC portal or many portals;
  • Identification of providers and users with their skills;
  • Organization of the EOSC: rules of participation, data stewardship, business model, ethics, protection of personal data …;
  • Integration with European national initiatives and with extra-European Initiatives.

​Peter Sterle (left) and Dr Juan Bicarregui (right)

Act for the transition to open science by default!

In future, science will be open by default.

Full transformation towards open science is going on, yet there is (very) low awareness of busy researchers. In the current transition period, provisions on openness are seen as an additional burden by many researchers. Therefore, international and national policies need to be aligned, interoperability of infrastructures ensured as well as training and support offered to researchers.

Research assessment is an important or even crucial aspect in the transition to the open science by default. As one of the latest international activities, the European University Association and Science Europe issued a joint statement on 14 May 2019, for "building a strong dialogue between their members" to develop and implement "more accurate, transparent and responsible approaches" to the scholarly research assessment, "that better reflects the evolution of research activity in the digital era".

Full and immediate open access to peer-reviewed publications from publicly funded research is the low-hanging fruit among open science aspects. Full and immediate open access will be provisioned by the European Commission for Horizon Europe Framework Programme (from 2021 onwards) and by cOAlition S members in their funding calls (also from 2021 onwards). Max Planck Digital Library published a White Paper on Open Access Transition in 2015, demonstrating that worldwide there is enough money in the subscription system so that all peer-reviewed articles can be immediately and fully open.

Science is global and transition to open science by default at the global level will be completed in an efficient and timely manner if everybody joins as soon as possible and we act together and aligned.

Photo Credits: Eva Vrbnjak, MA
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