Science community steps up to reform open access

“The International Science Council (ISC) and ALLEA (All European Academies) last month drew the attention of the scientific community to the inadequacies of open access to research papers as currently implemented by publishers (see go.nature.com/3otps2d and go.nature.com/3cfp6bq). Open access to the record of science is essential for an equitable and inclusive global scientific enterprise and to the scientific self-correction that is crucial for rigour and public trust. The ISC statement sets out eight fundamental principles of publishing that need to be upheld in serving the needs of science, including mandating access to all evidential data and removing restrictive copyright.”

UNESCO General Conference adopts Open Science Recommendation

The road to the Open Science Recommendation being adopted commenced with a resolution from the 40th session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 2019, where 193 Member States tasked UNESCO with the development of an international standard-setting instrument.

That instrument, the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science, has now been adopted by Member States at its 41st General Conference.

Open Science and the UNESCO initiative – International Year of Basic Sciences for Development

“Although Open Science is not new, it stems from the publication of the first scientific journals in the late seventeenth century, profound new digital opportunities have inspired scientific communities to progressively mature and crystallize the essentials of a new Open Science movement. It enlarges scientific and social horizons in the pursuit of knowledge, its dissemination and use.

Intrinsic to this new paradigm are historic values of scientific self-organization, principles of freedom and responsibility, universal accessibility and sharing, inclusivity and equitability, together with responsibilities for education and capacity development, as reflected in the statutes of the International Science Council (ISC) and in its vision of “science as a global public good”. The expanded social networks of this new openness are exemplified in trends of increased multi-nationally authored scientific papers, the growth of trans-disciplinary collaboration and of citizen science.

The shaping of this new paradigm has largely been achieved through the work of the national academies, international scientific unions and associations, and related bodies that are represented in the membership of the ISC, and reflected in its statement on Open Science. National and regional funders of science have increasingly supported the Open Science imperative by investments in supportive infrastructures and promotion of open access publishing as a condition of funding….

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 endorsement. 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….”

A new social contract must include genuine participation and partnership of Indigenous peoples in decision-making about research – International Science Council

“The free and responsible practice of science is fundamental to scientific advancement and human and environmental well-being. Such practice, in all its aspects, requires freedom of movement, association, expression and communication for scientists, as well as equitable access to data, information, and other resources for research. It requires responsibility at all levels to carry out and communicate scientific work with integrity, respect, fairness, trustworthiness, and transparency, recognizing its benefits and possible harms. In advocating the free and responsible practice of science, the Council promotes equitable opportunities for access to science and its benefits, and opposes discrimination based on such factors as ethnic origin, religion, citizenship, language, political or other opinion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or age….”

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

New Steering Group sets direction for the second phase of the Scientific Publishing project – International Science Council

“Following the successful first phase of the project, which involved extensive consultations with the global scientific community as represented by ISC Members, and resulted in the ISC Report “Opening the record of science”, the ISC is stepping into the next phase under the guidance of the Steering Group. …”

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….”

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….”

Opening the record of science: making scholarly publishing work for science in the digital era: ISC Report February 2021

“As a basis for analysing the extent to which contemporary scientific and scholarly publishing serves the above purposes, a number of fundamental principles are advocated in the belief that they are likely to be durable in the long term. They follow, in abbreviated form: I. There should be universal open access to the record of science, both for authors and readers. II. Scientific publications should carry open licences that allow reuse and text and data mining. III. Rigorous and ongoing peer review is essential to the integrity of the record of science. IV. The data/observations underlying a published truth claim should be concurrently published. V. The record of science should be maintained to ensure open access by future generations. VI. Publication traditions of different disciplines should be respected. VII. Systems should adapt to new opportunities rather than embedding inflexible infrastructures. These principles have received strong support from the international scientific community as represented by the membership of the International Science Council (ISC)….”

Opening the record of science: making scholarly publishing work for science in the digital era: ISC Report February 2021

“As a basis for analysing the extent to which contemporary scientific and scholarly publishing serves the above purposes, a number of fundamental principles are advocated in the belief that they are likely to be durable in the long term. They follow, in abbreviated form: I. There should be universal open access to the record of science, both for authors and readers. II. Scientific publications should carry open licences that allow reuse and text and data mining. III. Rigorous and ongoing peer review is essential to the integrity of the record of science. IV. The data/observations underlying a published truth claim should be concurrently published. V. The record of science should be maintained to ensure open access by future generations. VI. Publication traditions of different disciplines should be respected. VII. Systems should adapt to new opportunities rather than embedding inflexible infrastructures. These principles have received strong support from the international scientific community as represented by the membership of the International Science Council (ISC)….”

Opening the record of science: making scholarly publishing work for science in the digital era – International Science Council

“Efficient access to the record of science – for authors and for readers – is essential for science and society. This ISC Report examines the current landscape of scholarly publishing, explores future trends and proposes seven principles for scientific and scholarly publishing….”

Opening the record of science: making scholarly publishing work for science in the digital era – International Science Council

“Efficient access to the record of science – for authors and for readers – is essential for science and society. This ISC Report examines the current landscape of scholarly publishing, explores future trends and proposes seven principles for scientific and scholarly publishing….”

Global Call for Priorities for Science – International Science Council

“Our global consultation, via an online survey, targets individual scientists and the institutions and initiatives of which they are a part. We want to hear from the broader international scientific community, across domains, fields and disciplines. We are also keen to hear from scientists working in the worlds of policy, civil society and the private sector….”