The European Commission has published the first report of the High Level Expert Group on the European Open Science Cloud (HLEG EOSC). The European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) is a new flagship European Commission initiative that aims to accelerate and support the current transition to more effective Open Science and Open Innovation in the Digital Single Market. It should enable trusted access to services, systems and the re-use of shared scientific data across disciplinary, social and geographical borders. The HLEG EOSC Report is clear: the time for talking about the ‘perceived need’ for a science cloud has closed; immediate action is needed to make it a reality.
The way ahead lies in working with Member States, building on existing capacity and expertise, and will be greatly aided by clear Rules of Engagement for access to the EOSC and for the provision of services based on research data, say the HLEG. But the report reaches further in encouraging developments in broader Open Science policy: framing the EOSC as the EU contribution to a future, global Internet of FAIR Data and Services underpinned by open protocols; setting-up and funding a concerted effort to develop core data expertise in Europe (estimating that we need ~half a million ‘core data scientists’ to fully exploit the potential of open research data); and radically altering the research data funding model so that an overall co-funded national / EC funding scheme can ensure the long-term resources needed (the HLEG estimates ~5% of total research expenditure should be spent on research data management).
OpenAIRE is hence very excited about the possibilities for the EOSC initiative and has been an active consultant to the HLEG Report and participated in other community exercises to scope the EOSC vision-building (e.g., the EOSC principles published along with our partner eInfrastructures last year).The Recommendations of the HLEG EOSC provide a great blueprint for a new European Commission flagship for Open Science.
OpenAIRE, whose mission is to foster the social and technical links that enable Open Science in Europe and beyond, is very well placed to be the eInfrastructure that puts the Open Science into the European Open Science Cloud. Many of the key factors for the effective development of the EOSC that the HLEG Report identifies are ones to which OpenAIRE is well-placed to add real value:
- New modes of scholarly communication (with emphasis on machine actionability) need to be implemented. OpenAIRE’s mission is closely linked to the mission of the European Commission: to provide unlimited, barrier free, open access to research outputs financed by public funding in Europe. OpenAIRE fulfils the EOSC vision in a great part, as its operations already provide the glue for many of the user and research driven functionalities, whether these come from the long tail of science (repositories and local support) or domain disciplined research communities or Research Infrastructures. Beyond our expertise and existing infrastructure services that will put the “open” into the EOSC, OpenAIRE can help to bring the EOSC to the individual researchers in a diverse, distributed environment of internationally networked, cross-disciplinary research. In the same way it has successfully supported the implementation of the European Open Access Policy, OpenAIRE can utilize its truly participatory network with effective local reach to help implementing the European Open Science policy. OpenAIRE’s current work on research data management practices for the long tail of science and DMPs and tools attracts a lot of attention from researchers, project coordinators, and libraries. Using the NOAD structure, which effectively has a multiplier effect, OpenAIRE works with institutions and national e-Infrastructures to propagate and align best practices, aiming towards a more uniform approach of tools and their connection. This becomes more important via the approach to national funders to align not only policies, but also to help them develop similar implementation practices. In addition, our research and development activities on open peer review, data-literature integration, Linked Open Data, as well as other forthcoming OpenAIRE2020 outputs like our data-anonymisation service and studies on OA impact and legal issues in open data, all help push forward the evolution of scholarly communication towards openness and machine actionability.
- Modern reward and recognition practices need to support data sharing and re-use. OpenAIRE recognises the need to raise awareness and change incentive structures for academics, industry and public services to share their data, and improve data management training, literacy and data stewardship skills. OpenAIRE has great experience in awareness raising in this area with targeted dissemination materials promoting these topics to a range of stakeholders (see: https://www.openaire.eu/opendatapilot). OpenAIRE is working to change incentive structures through our collaborative research activities in the areas of data citation, data-literature integration, data protection and PSI in the context of open data and our open repository Zenodo, which enables easy data-publishing. Moreover, our reporting, monitoring and analytics services (both research and usage) enable researchers and research administrators to go beyond narrow metrics like the journal “Impact Factor”, to find all linked research outcomes so as to judge the true impact of their research on their research communities and on society at large.
- A real stimulus of multi-disciplinary collaboration requires specific measures in terms of review, funding and infrastructure. OpenAIRE’s outreach and engagement capacity is substantial, amplified by the multiplication effect of its network of 33 National Open Access Desks (NOADs), present in every EU country and beyond. The NOADs are able to approach stakeholders at the national and institutional levels, to understand specific local requirements and idiosyncrasies and aptly influence institutional/national developments on Open Science policy, organization and technology. This network is uniquely placed to assist in the development of the EOSC by (1) acting as facilitators to ensure pan-European user engagement in its design, and (2) embedding the cloud in everyday user workflows via outreach, support and training. As a cross-disciplinary human infrastructure for open science it is well placed to assist in fostering collaboration between differing disciplines.
- The EOSC needs to be developed as a data infrastructure commons, that is an eco-system of infrastructures. OpenAIRE is the gateway to access Europe’s research artefacts, connects them and puts the research in context, allowing for an effective manipulation, visual representation, and exploration of all scientific output. Linking these operations to storage and computing related e-Infrastructures, makes OpenAIRE an integral part of an all-inclusive structure as envisioned by EOSC. Furthermore, OpenAIRE’s involvement in current cross e-Infrastructure user-engagement initiatives such as the Digital Infrastructures for Research conference in Krakow 28-30 Sept 2016 already forms the basis for such activities. DI4R is designed with research communities in mind and aims to foster broader adoption of digital infrastructure services and promote user-driven innovation.
- Where possible, the EOSC should enable automation of data processing and thus machine actionability is key. OpenAIRE has a broad outreach to a variety of data providers: literature repositories, OA journals, data repositories, University or national CRIS systems, auxiliary sources from the Public Sector, open education repositories. Using the Guidelines for data providers it has validated 720 data providers, bringing in more than 6,000 data sources (via aggregators). The Guidelines have become a reference point for Europe, and with the help of COAR they have been adopted in Latin America, while there are pending discussions with other regions of the world (e.g., Japan, China). Building on interoperability, OpenAIRE has created the Repository Manager Dashboard, a portfolio of services targeting repositories (registration, validation, usage statistics/analytics, impact, routing information) which makes the interoperability uptake more attractive and easy.
- Lightweight but internationally effective guiding governance should be developed. The OpenAIRE legal entity, to be founded in 2017, will encompass the involvement of all scholarly communication stakeholders and will be a truly community-driven and community governed structure, placing Open Science on the agenda of all member states in a concrete way through specific policies and implementation mechanisms. Our experience in building this entity will help feed in to planning for the EOSC governance structure.