Statement from the International Science Council delegation to the UNESCO Special Committee meeting on Open Science, 6-12 May 2021

“Now UNESCO has taken a stance. It seeks to formalize these trends at an international level by placing a recommendation on Open Science before its 193 Member States for their endorsement3 . It has engaged with the scientific community over the last year to generate a long list of draft recommendations for open access to the published record of science, open data, open educational resources, open-source software and code, open hardware and infrastructures, and open engagement with society. The draft’s first contact with political reality, in the form of national representatives, took place in early May 2021. Representatives were almost universally supportive, and even added “bite” on some crucial issues. For example, there is an increasing awareness of the moves of some major commercial publishers to evolve into broadly based “science/knowledge platforms”, able increasingly to monopolize not only access to scientific knowledge but also to data about science and scientists, their evaluation, scientometrics, management, networking, priorities and funding, with little accountability to the scientific community or its organizations 4 . Indeed, the commercial public sector has been more than effective in monetizing scholarly output, creating an oligopoly of control, and is learning how to take control over additional aspects of the research life cycle, now especially focused on the interaction between publishing, data repositories, and access to data. Awareness of these trends was reflected in a critical insertion in the text by UNESCO Member States that: “The monitoring of Open Science should be explicitly kept under public oversight, including the scientific community, and whenever possible supported by open non-proprietary and transparent infrastructures. This monitoring aspect could include but should not be delegated to the private sector.”

The UNESCO recommendation and potential cascading interventions by Member States could develop along two divergent pathways. They could enhance governmental support for the scientific community, and the stakeholder ecosystem of which it is part, as they develop new policies, infrastructures and collaboration strategies that serve the Open Science paradigm as it has progressively evolved over the last two decades. Alternatively, Member States could disregard the tradition whereby the scientific community self-organizes to achieve its purposes, and come to specify, or even regulate, how it should be organized. We are strongly in favour of the former, and concerned about the potential of the latter, which could create a mode of Open Science that opens the door: “to capture of publicly funded research value by commercial platforms, yet more ‘metrics’ of productivity to ‘incentivize’ scholars to work harder and a focus on the system-wide progress of science, ignoring costs and benefits to individuals, whether scientists or non-scientists” 5 . Nonetheless, we welcome the draft UNESCO recommendation most strongly, with the comment that awareness of danger is the first step in averting it.”

Open Science and the UNESCO initiative – opportunity to republish ISC statement – International Science Council

In this statement made by the ISC delegation to the UNESCO Special Committee meeting on Open Science, 6-12 May 2021, the delegation explores how the recommendation and potential cascading interventions by Member States could develop along two divergent pathways

The time for open science is now

“UNESCO is developing a Recommendation on Open Science which will be submitted to member states for approval in November 2021….

This calls for new types of funding arrangement between universities and publishers or funding agencies and publishers that are in a position to offer sustainable alternatives to either the ‘author-pays’ or ‘reader-pays’ models….

There is a growing number of viable alternatives to the author-pays system. These range from national or regional funding agreements to membership-based systems or co-operatives grouping multiple institutions. Among the latter is SciELO. This network now encompasses 16 countries in Latin America and Europe, along with South Africa. Similarly, AmeliCA and Latindex have been designed as regional networks composed of public institutions and research agencies from different countries….

With UNESCO being the sole United Nations agency with a mandate for science, it was logical that it should take up the question of open science. In 2019, UNESCO’s 193 member states tasked the Secretariat with developing an international standard-setting instrument in the form of a Recommendation on Open Science, to be adopted in November 2021. These instructions emanated from the Organization’s supreme governing body, the General Conference, which meets every two years….

As we move towards a global consensus on the issue, the first draft text of the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science has defined open science as an umbrella concept combining various movements and practices aiming to:l make scientific knowledge, methods, data and evidence freely available and accessible to everyone;l increase scientific collaboration and the sharing of information for the benefit of both science and society; andl open the process of scientific knowledge creation and circulation to societal actors situated beyond the institutionalized scientific community….”

As we move towards a global consensus on the issue, the first draft text of the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science has defined open science as an umbrella concept combining various movements and practices aiming to:l make scientific knowledge, methods, data and evidence freely available and accessible to everyone;l increase scientific collaboration and the sharing of information for the benefit of both science and society; andl open the process of scientific knowledge creation and circulation to societal actors situated beyond the institutionalized scientific community.

Informationsplattform Open Access: UNESCO Science Report 2021: The Time for Open Science is Now

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recently presented the UNESCO Science Report 2021 titled The Race against Time for Smarter Development ahead of the G7 meeting. In the series, the organisation observes worldwide developments in science policy. The current report describes in essays and studies how different countries are using science to realise a digitally and environmentally smart future. In the essay The Time for Open Science is Now, the authors argue, among other things, for the expansion of open science and open access. That way, they point out, science and research can contribute their full potential to sustainable development in the face of climate change and pandemics.

Webinar: Community Open Principles | EIFL

Join this webinar on Community Open Principles: Before, During and After the Global Pandemic, which is part of the Reimagining Educational Practices for Open (REPO) Community Event Series. 

Date and time: 30 June, 1pm UTC
Registration: You can register here. 

Speakers – Dr Ana Persic, UNESCO, Dr Arianna Becerril García, AmeliCA, Dr Johanna Havemann, Open Science MOOC, and Osman Aldirdiri, AfricArXiv – will lead the discussion by addressing the following questions:

When we talk about Open what do we mean? 
How can we navigate the different definitions of what it means to be a community and to be Open? 
How do we engage with communities and train members around Open?
What evidence are we using of how we are addressing Open? 
How can we be more inclusive and align our Open principles to foster norms, incentives, and recognition? 
Have our understandings around Open shifted during the pandemic? 

The webinar aims to include open science perspectives from a diverse group of communities, to learn from different approaches, and identify next steps that everyone in our global community can consider. More about REPO in this blog by Iryna Kuchma, EIFL Open Access Programme Manager.

Promoting open science in public policy

“The value of this document is that it can make future public open science policies enhance the opening of the research cycle as a whole, promote participatory science, and open spaces to talk about innovation and newer aspects of open science, such as the need for exceptions to copyright for data mining or the development of funding mechanisms and approaches for citizen labs or spaces to experiment with open infrastructure (Unlock devices). Again, the recommendations can be a roadmap for talking about the science and its results common goods (Those that have universal access, are democratically managed, continue to be used over time and are collectively owned)….”

ADOPTED_EN Draft Recommendation on Open Science_11 May 2021.pdf – Google Drive

“PROVISIONALLY ADOPTED (AS OF 11 MAY 2021)…

Taking into account, in the adoption and application of this Recommendation, the vast diversity of the laws, regulations and customs which, in different countries, determine the pattern and organization of science technology and innovation: 1. Adopts the present Recommendation on Open Science on this … day of November 2021; 2. Recommends that Member States apply the provisions of this Recommendation by taking appropriate steps, including whatever legislative or other measures may be required, in conformity with the constitutional practice and governing structures of each State, to give effect within their jurisdictions to the principles of this Recommendation; 3. Also recommends that Member States bring this Recommendation to the attention of the authorities and bodies responsible for science, technology and innovation, and consult relevant actors concerned with Open Science; Recommends that Member States collaborate in bilateral, regional, multilateral and global initiatives for the advancement of Open Science; 5. Further recommends that Member States report to it, at such dates and in such manner as shall be determined, on the action taken in pursuance of this Recommendation….”

Open Education in European Libraries of Higher Education Survey 2021

“This survey was developed in consultation with members of the European Network of Open Education Librarians (ENOEL). Whilst some Higher Education libraries have taken on the OE challenge, others are still to do so. The aim of this survey is to explore and collect information about the work done by academic librarians to implement the UNESCO OER Recommendation, published in Nov 2019. The survey is designed around the five areas of action of the Recommendation.

We plan to use the collected data to organize our activities going forward to provide you with Open Education support in the future….”

Beyond vaccines, UNESCO wants more global science shared

“While the U.S. president is calling for suspending patents on COVID-19 vaccines, experts at UNESCO are quietly working on a more ambitious plan: a new global system for sharing scientific knowledge that would outlast the current pandemic.

At a meeting that concluded Tuesday, diplomats and legal and technical experts from UNESCO’S member states tried to draw up global guidelines under a project called Open Science….

The Open Science talks aim to come up with a “soft law” by the end of this year that governments could use as a guide for setting science policies and systematically sharing data, software and research across borders, Persic said….

In 2019, then-President Donald Trump pulled out of UNESCO, but U.S. diplomats are taking part in the Open Science talks as observers….”

Consultation with Indigenous Peoples on the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science

“As a part of a series of thematic consultations for building a global consensus on Open Science, UNESCO organized an online meeting on January 15 to take stock of Indigenous peoples‘ perspective on Open Science.  

In view of developing a standard-setting instrument on Open Science, UNESCO is leading an inclusive, transparent and consultative process. In this process, inclusiveness of diverse knowledge systems and knowledge holders is essential, and the first draft of the Recommendation is based on the broad inputs provided by stakeholders from all regions and groups.

Considering the great importance given to the creation of a productive relationship between Open Science and Indigenous Knowledge Systems, the consultation with Indigenous Peoples brought together 120 participants from 50 countries, including indigenous scholars and academics, members of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), members of different initiatives such as the Forest Peoples Programme, the Global Indigenous Data Alliance, the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity, and the drafting committee of the CARE principles for Indigenous Data Governance.    …”

Draft text of the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science – UNESCO Digital Library

“In accordance with the UNESCO Constitution and the Rules of Procedure concerning recommendations to Member States and international conventions covered by the terms of Article IV, paragraph 4, of the Constitution, the final report together with the draft text of the Recommendation on Open Science was sent to UNESCO Member States in March 2021 (CL/4349). It is submitted to the special committee meeting of technical and legal experts, designated by Member States, to be held on 6-7 and 10-12 May, as per the circular letter (CL/4338) sent in January 2021, followed by the letter ref. SC/PCB/SPP/2376 sent in April 2021.”

Intergovernmental special committee meeting (Category II) related to the draft UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science

“At its 40th session in November 2019, UNESCO’s General Conference decided to elaborate a draft Recommendation on Open Science.

The first draft of the Recommendation on Open Science was sent to UNESCO Member States in September 2020 (CL/4333), requesting their comments and observations by 31 December 2020. The Open Science Advisory Committee and the UNESCO Secretariat have taken these comments into account in the draft text of the Recommendation and the related final report, sent to UNESCO Member States in March 2021 (CL/4349).

The draft text of the Recommendation will be examined by technical and legal experts, designated by Member States, at the intergovernmental special committee meeting related to the draft UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science, which will take place online on 6-7 May and 10-12 May 2021 (letter ref. SC/PCB/SPP/2376 sent on 12 April 2021, following CL/4338 sent in January 2021). 

The draft approved at the intergovernmental meeting will be submitted to Member States in August 2021, with a view to its adoption by the General Conference at its 41st session in November 2021….”

Towards a Global Consensus on Open Science – Online Expert Meeting on Open Science and Intellectual Property Rights

“UNESCO is leading the development of an international standard-setting instrument on Open Science in the form of a UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science.

Recognizing the ongoing policy challenge to balance openness and Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) protection, UNESCO is organizing an expert meeting to discuss the relationships between IPRs and Open Science; to present the different existing instruments and mechanisms that reconcile ownership and sharing/openness, and to exchange on balanced IPRs and Open Science policies and strategies.

The meeting will be held in English and French on the Zoom online platform on Friday, 23 April from 12:00 to 14:00 CET (Paris time)….”

Results: The ISC Survey on the first draft of the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science – International Science Council

“The UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science is envisaged as important step in promoting a global understanding of the meaning, opportunities, and challenges of Open Science. The ISC, along with the IAP, our UN Major Group for the Scientific and Technological Community partners WFEO, and ALLEA, assisted UNESCO in gathering comments on the first draft of the Recommendation from the scientific community through an online survey at the end of 2020.

The perspectives of the international scientific community and their assessment of the draft text gathered through the survey will assist UNESCO and its Member States in the development of the final text of the Recommendation on Open Science, expected to be adopted by Member States in November 2021.

The responses were generally positive towards the UNESCO Recommendations and highlighted some key concerns and gaps….”