Common ground in the global quest for open research

Abstract:  It’s hard to envision a system more global and more integrated than research. Many stakeholders affect and are affected by changes in the research ecosystem; the ecosystem differs in significant ways across the globe and between researchers, institutions and fields of study; and there are many questions that exclusive action can’t address. There are also broad ecosystem-level questions that need answering. For these reasons alone, global approaches to reform are needed.

The first step in this exploration isn’t to start looking for “solutions,” but to develop a better understanding of how our needs and interests overlap. By identifying the broad contours of common ground in this conversation, we can build the guardrails and mileposts for our collaborative efforts and then allow the finer-grained details of community-developed plans more flexibility and guidance to evolve over time.

What are these overlapping interests? First, the people in this community share a common motive—idealism—to make research better able to serve the public good. We also share a common desire to unleash the power of open to improve research and accelerate discovery; we are all willing to fix issues now instead of waiting for market forces or government intervention to do this for us; and we want to ensure that everyone everywhere has equitable access to knowledge.

There is also very broad agreement in this community about which specific problems in scholarly communication need to be fixed and why, and well as many overlapping beliefs in this community. OSI participants have concluded that four such beliefs best define our common ground: (1) Research and society will benefit from open done right; (2) Successful solutions will require broad collaboration; (3) Connected issues need to be addressed, and (4) Open isn’t a single outcome, but a spectrum.

OSI has been observing and debating the activity in scholarly communication since late 2014 with regard to understanding possible global approaches and solutions for improving the future of open research. While the COVID-19 pandemic has made the importance of open science abundantly clear, the struggle to achieve this goal (not just for science but for all research) has been mired in a lack of clarity and urgency for over 20 years now, mostly stalling on the tension between wanting more openness but lacking realistic solutions for making this happen on a large scale with so many different stakeholders, needs and perspectives involved.

Underlying this tension is a fundamental difference in philosophy: whether the entire scholarly communication marketplace, driven by the needs and desires of researchers, should determine what kind of open it wants and needs; or whether this marketplace should be compelled to adopt open reform measures developed primarily by the scholarly communication system’s main billpayers—funders and libraries. There is no widespread difference of opinion in the community whether open is worth pursuing. The debate is mostly over what specific open solutions are best, and at what pace open reforms should occur.

OSI has proposed a plan of action for working together to rebuild the future of scholarly communication on strong, common ground foundation. This plan—which we’re referring to as Plan A—calls for joint action on studies, scholarly communication infrastructure improvement, and open outreach/education. Plan A also calls for working together with UNESCO to develop a unified global roadmap for the future of open, and for striving to ensure the community’s work in this space is researcher-focused, collaborative, connected (addressing connected issues like peer review), diverse and flexible (no one-size-fits-all solutions), and beneficial to research. UNESCO’s goal is to finish its roadmap proposal by early 2022.

For a full discussion of OSI’s common ground recommendations, please see the Plan A website at http://plan-a.world.

Springer Nature and UNESCO sign new open access books partnership | Corporate Affairs Homepage | Springer Nature

“Springer Nature and UNESCO are delighted to announce the signing of a framework agreement encompassing the publication of open access books focusing on UNESCO’s main pillars, notably education, the natural and social human sciences, culture, and communication and information areas. Written by experts affiliated to UNESCO, these books will publish under two of Springer Nature’s key imprints, namely Palgrave Macmillan and Springer, and will offer up-to-date and qualified research on a range of critical issues pertaining to UNESCO’s areas of expertise. Open access publication will enable readers around the world to access the books free of charge on Springer Nature’s content platform SpringerLink as well as on UNESCO’s open access repository (UNESDOC); readers will be able to share and re-use the works, further increasing their impact and reach. …”

UNESCO mobilizes 122 countries to promote open science and reinforced cooperation in the face of COVID-19

“UNESCO on 30 March hosted an online meeting of representatives of ministries in charge of science all over the world. Participants included 77 ministers, including governmental secretaries representing a total of 122 countries, as well as Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Sarah Anyang Agbor, African Union Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, Moisés Omar Halleslevens Acevedo, former Vice President of Nicaragua and Dr Soumya Swaminathan, the World Health Organization’s Chief Scientist. 

The objective of the meeting was to exchange views on the role of international cooperation in science and increased investment in the context of COVID-19.

The key issue of open science, for which UNESCO has been working on an International Recommendation since November 2019, was a major topic of discussion….”

UNESCO mobilizes 122 countries to promote open science and reinforced cooperation in the face of COVID-19

“UNESCO on 30 March hosted an online meeting of representatives of ministries in charge of science all over the world. Participants included 77 ministers, including governmental secretaries representing a total of 122 countries, as well as Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Sarah Anyang Agbor, African Union Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, Moisés Omar Halleslevens Acevedo, former Vice President of Nicaragua and Dr Soumya Swaminathan, the World Health Organization’s Chief Scientist. 

The objective of the meeting was to exchange views on the role of international cooperation in science and increased investment in the context of COVID-19.

The key issue of open science, for which UNESCO has been working on an International Recommendation since November 2019, was a major topic of discussion….”

Towards a UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science

“The development of the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science relies on an inclusive, transparent and consultative process involving all countries and all stakeholders, in order to build a global consensus on Open Science.

The Recommendation is expected to define shared values and principles for Open Science, and point to concrete measures on Open Access and Open Data with proposals for action to bring citizens closer to science, and commitments for a better distribution and production of science in the world. The process of drafting the Recommendation is regionally balanced, highly inclusive and collaborative. It involves multiple stakeholders and is expected to lead to the adoption of the Recommendation by UNESCO Member States in 2021.

In developing the Open Science Recommendation, UNESCO is gathering inputs from all the regions and all the interested stakeholders, through online consultations, regional and thematic meetings and numerous debates on implications, benefits and challenges of Open Science across the globe.

UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science will complement the 2017 Recommendation on Science and Scientific Research. It will also build upon the UNESCO Strategy on Open Access to Scientific Information and Research and the new UNESCO Recommendation on Open Educational Resources….”

UNESCO launches a global consultation to develop a standard-setting instrument on Open Science

“In the context of pressing planetary and socio-economic challenges, sustainable and innovative solutions must be supported by an efficient, transparent and vibrant scientific effort – not only stemming from the scientific community, but from the whole society. Open Science embodies the need to transform and democratize the entire scientific process to ensure that science truly drives and enables the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for the benefits of all.

Driven by unprecedented advances in our digital world, the transition to Open Science allows scientific information, data and outputs to be more widely accessible (Open Access) and more reliably harnessed (Open Data) with the active engagement of all relevant stakeholders (Open to Society). However, in the fragmented scientific and policy environment, a global understanding of the meaning, opportunities and challenges of Open Science is still missing. 

UNESCO, as the United Nations Agency with a mandate for Science, is the legitimate global organization enabled to build a coherent vision of Open Science and a shared set of overarching principles and shared values. That is why, at the 40th session of UNESCO’s General Conference, 193 Member States tasked the Organization with the development of an international standard-setting instrument on Open Science in the form of a UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science.

UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science will be prepared through a regionally balanced, multistakeholder, inclusive and transparent consultation process.  This process is guided by an Open Science Advisory Committee and is expected to lead to the adoption of the Recommendation by UNESCO Member States in 2021.

As UNESCO launches its consultation process on Open Science, an online survey is designed to conduct inputs from all the regions and the interested stakeholders, about aspects, benefits and challenges of Open Science across the globe.

All Open Science stakeholders, including scientists and scientific institutes, science publishers, science policy makers etc., are encouraged to participate and  to share their insights trough a global survey. In addition, you can help the collection of a broader perspective on Open Science by sharing this survey among your network.”

Beyond textbooks: Why Wikipedia and other Open Educational Resources are the future for global knowledge

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recently adopted a new Recommendation — the highest level of international policy — about Open Education Resources (OERs) such as Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation’s Nichole Saad shares below why this is a milestone moment for the free knowledge movement around the world.

Decisions adopted by the Executive Board at its 207th session – UNESCO Digital Library

From p. 15: “The Executive Board,

1. Having examined documents 207 EX/7 and 207 EX/PG/1.INF.3 and Corr.,

2. Takes note of the consolidated roadmap towards the adoption of a possible UNESCO recommendation on open science contained in the Annex to document 207 EX/7;

3. Notes the importance of ensuring an open and transparent process based on a proper geographical and gender balance for the selection of the members of the Advisory Committee;

4. Requests the Director-General to ensure a broad and geographically representative Open Science Partnership, with relevant stakeholders and institutions from all regions and from all branches of Basic and Applied Sciences, including Natural Sciences, Life Sciences, and Social and Human Sciences, particularly taking into account local and indigenous peoples and their traditional knowledge;

5. Recommends that the specific challenges of scientists in developing countries in regards to weak Science Technology and Innovation (STI) policy and legal systems, and the digital, technological and knowledge divides, be adequately addressed within the consolidated Roadmap and future recommendation to enable the scientists to fully participate and reap the benefits of the Open Science framework;

6. Also recommends that the General Conference, at its 40th session, invite the Director-General, to initiate, in accordance with the applicable rules and provided the resources are available, the process of elaborating a draft text of a new standard-setting instrument on open science, in the form of a recommendation, to be submitted for consideration by the General Conference at its 41st session;

7. Further recommends that the General Conference, at its 40th session, request the Director-General to hold at least one Category 2 intergovernmental meeting in presentia with a view to the elaboration of a recommendation on Open Science;

8. Recommends the Director-General to elaborate a draft Terms of Reference of The Open Science Advisory Committee to be presented at the next General Conference, for its consideration.”

Consolidated roadmap for a possible UNESCO Recommendation on open science – UNESCO Digital Library

“Further to the Executive Board decision, 206 EX/Decision 9, the objective of this document is to present a consolidated Roadmap towards a possible UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science for consideration by the Executive Board at its 207th session.Action expected of the Executive Board: proposed decision in paragraph 7.”

Preliminary study of the technical, financial and legal aspects on the desirability of a UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science – UNESCO Digital Library

“This initiative is inscribed in the continuity and follow-up of the UNESCO Recommendation on Science and Scientific researchers, approved by the General Conference at its 39th session in 2017 and the UNESCO Strategy on Open Access to scientific information and research approved by the General Conference in its 36th session in 2011. The overall objective of this document is to present the preliminary findings of the study of the desirability for UNESCO’s action, programmatic and regulatory, in the field of Open Science. A possible UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science is presented as an option to affirm UNESCO’s normative and standard-setting role in this regard.Action expected of the Executive Board: proposed decision in paragraph 39.”