National Plan Open Science

On 19 January 19 2017 the State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science sent a letter concerning the topic of open science to the Lower House. In that letter, he confirmed the question to a broad coalition of concerned parties jointly to draw up a National Plan Open Science (OCW, 2017). This document is the response to that request.

The National Plan Open Science follows on from the robust and ambitious Dutch open access policy which the Ministry called for in 2013 (OCW, 2013). Open science, including the open access element, was a top priority during the Netherlands EU presidency. One outcome of the Dutch presidency was the Amsterdam Call for Action (NLU, 2016). It contains a recommendation that each Member State should draw up a National Plan for Open Science. This Call for Action led to Council conclusions (Council of the European Union, 2016) in which the European Member States made agreements pertaining to open science. Those agreements stipulate, among other things, that publicly-funded scientific publications must be accessible to all by 2020. Agreements were also made concerning the optimal reuse of research data, in particular data originating from publicly-funded research. The underlying principle for that research data is that it should be “as open as possible, as closed as necessary.”

The National Plan Open Science concentrates on three key areas:

  1. Promoting open access to scientific publications (open access).
  2. Promoting optimal use and reuse of research data.
  3. Adapting evaluation and award systems to bring them into line with the objectives of open science (reward systems).

Re 1

Scientific publications (articles, books or parts of books, reports) which are publicly funded will be immediately and openly accessible to anyone from anywhere in the world and available to them to consult and reuse. At present, most of the publications remain behind a pay-wall, and access is organised through expensive subscriptions. 

Re 2

Researchers need to be able, where possible, to reuse the research data of others and to be able to exchange their own research data[1] as easily as possible. At present, research data are not being managed and published in accordance with agreed standards and methodologies and are therefore difficult to find or reuse. The European commitment concerning “text and data mining” or “content mining” is also relevant here.

Re 3

In the present evaluation and reward systems the emphasis is often on the number of publications in prestigious journals with a high impact factor, often produced by well-established publishers and to which there is no open access, thus maintaining the culture of “publish or perish”. Open science invites a broader set of evaluation criteria than just research output and research quality, including, for example, the quality of education, valorisation, leadership and good data stewardship. 

By adopting this approach and focusing on the abovementioned key areas, the Netherlands hopes to live up to the reputation it has built up as a lead country for open science and to benefit – and enable others to benefit – from the advantages expected of open science as soon as possible.

Other important aspects of open science including, for example, open education, the use of open source software, or citizen science, are not discussed in the National Plan Open Science, or are merely mentioned in passing. Nor are public and private data, and their reuse, dealt with. The Platform will be able to flesh out these important topics later on.


[1] The terms data and research data are sometimes used interchangeably in the National Plan Open Science. Please note that in both cases the term refers to all kinds of research data.


Latest modifications 13 Oct 2017