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….”

Business Models and Market Structure within the Scholarly Communications Sector

“The paper proceeds by first positioning the situation within the broader setting of how to effectively regulate digital markets. The dominant business model and industrial structure within scholarly communications at the end of the last century is then discussed, as a springboard from which to consider new business models that have arisen over the past twenty years and their likely implications for the sector. The paper concludes that there would be considerable benefit to the establishment of a permanent digital markets unit to monitor and assess ongoing developments in the scholarly communications sector and to coordinate and encourage “good behaviour” across all actors in the sector….”

Covid-19 and Access to Scientific Knowledge – International Science Council

“The future must be that of open access scientific publishing, where authors do not gift copyright to publishers, where scientific results are accessed freely and where article publishing charges that reflect the real cost of production are born by researchers or their funders. Although major corporate publishers will continue to manoeuvre to protect their profitability, open access publishing is on the rise, and the increasing number of science funders that require those they fund to publish in open access journals, such as in the European Commission’s  plan S, will further encourage that trend. The International Science Council is in the process of building a coalition for action with the purpose of driving change. The time has now come for scientists themselves to give up their addiction to so-called “high impact” journals and to act decisively in the interests of science and an open science future.”