The creation of the EOSC is an opportunity to reflect on how achievements fit into the broader framework now being set up.
With OpenAIREs infrastructure coupled with yearlong expertise on Open Science, OpenAIRE hopes to provide assistance to some of the researchers' demands and wishes. Guidelines for interoperability between data providers, a dedicated platform for open research output such as Zenodo, a human network of Open Access experts and a Research Graph linking up scientific outcomes are some of the services OpenAIRE can provide.
Science is a global endeavour: supra-regional initiatives such as the European Open Science Cloud are coordinating with similar programmes on a global scale to ensure that scientists can cooperate globally, within academia and also with industry.
The perspective of researchers inside as well as outside Europe is particularly relevant. In recent interviews about what they expect and wish for in the new EOSC project, we can see that data infrastructure, interoperability, open accessible research outcomes and administrative burden are high on the priority list.
To learn about expectations, needs and visions on the future of research and international research collaborations, the EOSC Secretariat partner TU Wien launched an exploration series. Among the interviewees are members of the Marie Curie Alumni Association, ERC grant holders and Nobel Laureates. In these conversations covering different disciplines, they give an indication of the needs of potential stakeholders including, among them, the wishes and requirements of researchers and research institutions. The scope of this exploration series covers many different disciplines and countries at the global level; although at the moment only European, US-American and Australian scientists are covered, the series is going to be expanded and continued.
OpenAIRE is committed to support the EOSC endeavour to provide the framework researchers need to perform cutting-edge research.
On the one hand, the talks present wishes and ideas of what the EOSC would bring or could achieve. On the other hand they highlight current difficulties in the research practice. But OpenAIRE as a partner to EOSC sees more than challenges in the examples highlighted so far. They also point to opportunities for the tools and services that have been set up and implemented over the course of 10-plus years.
Access is not ubiquitous just yet
OpenAIRE’s infrastructure, in particular the Research Graph and the continuous activities for promoting international co-ordination, helps to increase the efficiency of open science efforts internationally to make Open Science sustainable in the long term. The interviews, though, still identify the gaps in terms of access to and speed of publishing research outputs. For example, as Marie Curie Fellow ‘Ottavio Quirico’ says in his interview:
“Open access to resources and availability of digital versions of books would be highly beneficial. It would also be helpful to speed up publication processes. Currently, publishing in peer-reviewed journals takes time. However, publishing via online platforms might preclude publication in peer-reviewed journals. It would be helpful to find a solution, because the world evolves rapidly.”
Saket Saurabh, ERC grantee, adds to the touches upon the bigger context of a cultural shift in scientific practice by saying:
“So in my opinion, it would be great if datasets were freely accessible. […] Generally, they [ERC Advanced grantees] are people who are on top in their fields. If they share and open data, it is very natural for their working groups to do the same. Thus, a culture of data sharing and opening data is being adapted.”
OpenAIRE is eager to facilitate this cultural change in progress by providing a consolidated network of or recognised open science experts guiding researchers, project officers, research funders and institutions with factsheets, webinars, policy guidance and workshops. The goal is to inform and debate the transition to a transparent and open scientific framework.
ALl scientists should embrace FAIR
This wealth of support material also provides a rich source to another challenge, or hope, to make EOSC a working reality: namely, that “all scientists should embrace FAIR”. Making data FAIR requires some know-how and support as well as the OpenAIRE guides and Argos, OpenAIRE’s machine-actionable DMP tool (data management plan) which are a helpful addition to the EOSC framework. In regards to data,sustainable, open and interoerable data infrastrucutre is another topic mentioned in several interviews. Long term storage (Toma Susi) and the need for need for cross-border cooperation to work on the same datase (Wolfgang Wagner) are challenges. Although it is true that there is no silver bullet, Zenodo allows for free, open and integrated datasharing, to create your own collection of research outputs to be able to work together and for sustainalbe data storage.
Interoperable to facilitate fulfilling mandates
Another concern relates to the additional administrative burdens caused to European grantees by some open access mandates.
To quote ERC Grantee Toma Susi:
“It would be valuable to have a way of fulfilling open data mandates in a user-easy and painless way for putting our data out there, with our papers and having it potentially be cited and re-used.”
Interoperable services such as the Research Graph, that links publications and data to projects and communicates back these links to the funders, or DMP tools such as Argos are representing the way forward to ease the burden.
In conclusion, EOSC holds to researchers both the promise of a solution to their current needs as well as high expectations as to what it could provide for the future of research. In these regards it is both an inspiration for OpenAIRE to perform better to meet current needs as well as a confirmation that years of expertise-building and service-provision pay off.