Open Science

In its Recommendation for Open Science, UNESCO states that the aim of Open Science is to make scientific knowledge freely available to everyone, accessible and reusable and to promote scientific cooperation and the exchange of information for the benefit of science and society. The NPOS endorses these UNESCO goals.

Vision for Open Science in 2030

The NPOS’ ambition is for Open Science, also called Open Scholarship, to be the ‘new normal’ by 2030. This is in line with the Cabinet’s position. As the Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science writes in his policy letter Higher education and science (17 June 2022): “Open Science must become the norm in higher education and research. The free and safe exchange of ideas between researchers and societal stakeholders is essential.”

New digital opportunities

Open Science, in part, is the outgrowth of the increasing digitisation of science. Never before has it been possible to share and digitally analyse such large quantities of data and publications. The pursuit of greater collaboration and transparency at every stage of research is central to Open Science. This is achieved by, among other things, sharing data, publications, software and results as early and openly as possible. 

More openness about the scientific process and its results allows for reproducibility (i.e. repeating the same analysis using the same data, but by a different analyst), and re-use. Being able to test open results and their supporting materials and processes, allows for findings to be verified. This improves the quality of research and education, accelerates scientific progress and reinforces the confidence in scientific knowledge.

Diversity, equality and inclusiveness are vital for success

Open Science also represents a transition to a more inclusive way of working collectively. The focus is increasingly shifting towards working in (interdisciplinary) teams and making results accessible to non-scientists. Bringing about the necessary cultural change requires a new, widely accepted way of recognising and valuing researchers.

Open Science embraces the diversity of topics, disciplines, practices, languages, outputs and processes of different (scientific and social) communities. The scientific community must be representative of the society it aims to serve. Diversity, equality and inclusiveness in the research community are vital to the success of Open Science.

Active community engagement

All barriers must be removed for researchers, practitioners, teachers and members of the public, allowing them to access the scientific literature and to reuse the scientific output. Furthermore, cooperation and participation with parties outside the academic community should be encouraged. Social engagement is essential to achieving a sustainable and fair system of knowledge creation and exchange. Public engagement and citizen science projects are appropriate means of promoting this involvement. This requires increasing the capacity of knowledge institutions and the creation and sharing of good practices.

Open Science: not a goal in itself

There is still a lot of work to be done to achieve the new normal of Open Science. When sharing data, publications, software and other research output, it’s important to describe these effectively and to provide a clear licence for their use. Everyone must be able to find and understand this data, even when machines are used to find and process the data. The conditions under which data, publications, software and results can be shared and (re)used must be clear and comprehensible. Multidisciplinary agreements on minimum standards, tools and interoperability are necessary, under the adage: ‘Open if possible, protected if necessary’.

Having the appropriate infrastructure to support Open Science practices is essential. Services should facilitate new, open ways of working, bearing in mind that considerable differences may exist between the domains. Although these processes may differ, they should be tuned whenever possible. A great deal is already happening at various levels to bring about this cultural change. Through the National Programme Open Science, all kinds of efforts at the national level are better coordinated and bundled.