Scoping the Open Science Infrastructure Landscape in Europe

New SPARC report describes complex and interconnected network of European Open Science Infrastructures

SPARC Europe has published their latest report: Scoping the Open Science Infrastructure Landscape in Europe, 2020. 

This report  collates the results of a survey of infrastructure or services that are part of the European Open Science infrastructure (OSI) landscape. OpenAIRE was happy to participate in this survey.
The survey was published in spring 2020 and received 120 relevant responses from OSIs with a regional, national or international focus, and based in Europe.

From the executive summary:

  • Goals and purpose of OSI: OSIs are motivated by their ambition to further OA and OS and provide access to a variety of research outputs. Discovery and archiving are the main areas of the research lifecycle which they cover. The majority integrate with external systems run by not-for-
    profits or RPOs.
  • Target audience: OSIs predominantly serve researchers and libraries across all disciplines with a global focus. Most have consulted with stakeholders on needs in the last 2 years.
  • Technical openness: The majority of OSIs have APIs, integrate with external systems, and allow code contributors. The majority of OSIs either have fully or partly open source software.
  • Compliance with specific open standards and principles: Most OSIs have strategies to comply with FAIR and with open standards,
    EOSC service requirements and Plan S technical conditions. OSIs report maturity in the open content and
    open standards of the COAR/SPARC Principles most. They see most challenges with good governance, sharing open content and open
  • Governance: The majority of OSIs have a board, steering group or advisory committee and are guided by a formal vision, plan or
  • Financial sustainability:
    OSIs are generally run on low resources despite offering a range of services. One third of OSIs start the year with no approved budget.
    Most OSIs do operate sustainably but their ability to do so is reliant on grant income.


Overall, the results make clear that OSIs do not operate as single entities, but rely on (or are relied on by) other infrastructures in an interconnected web of services that provide researchers with support for their research activities.


External systems and services that OSIs commonly integrate with

Throughout the report, OpenAIRE is one of the most commonly cited external services – and thus essential infrastructure - OSIs integrate with, together with ORCID, Crossref, DOAJ, BASE, Altmetric, and Datacite.

Network visualisation

A network visualisation of all tools and services that the OSIs in the survey report to interoperate with shows the centrality of external services such as OpenAIRE, and also shows more distinct clusters of services that are used by specific OSIs or smaller groups of OSIs (for example, services built on Wikimedia, GÉANT and/or Zenodo). Also visible is the cluster consisting of institutional and national repository services that is specifically connected to DataCite and OpenAIRE in Croatia.

Conclusions of the report: 

"We [SPARC Europe] see a diverse, interconnected, open, professional and viable OSI ecosystem developing in Europe on solid ground – one that is worth investing in. It is a system that is made up of valuable service providers, both large and small, serving the global research community.

Nonetheless, OSIs still have a range of issues to contend with in their organisations and strategies, particularly as they move towards more openness and a sustainable future. Additionally, despite a strong commitment to open source and open standards by many, challenges remain for some in good governance, sharing open content and applying open standards. This ecosystem will thrive if OSIs follow good governance practices, ensuring the community it will be steered by their needs, and will stay true to the values of research.

To sustain themselves, OSIs will need to continue to diversify their fund- raising efforts and upskill to embrace a range of business or revenue models in the future to spread the risk to their financial stability. Funding agencies, governments, institutions, charities and other funders need to consider strategies on how to effectively fund this rich and important landscape more structurally. We also call on governments to maintain and increase support for both development activities and for sustaining operations. Making smart choices on what to invest in will be essential."

The full study is available for download on Zenodo.  


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