OpenAIRE’s input statement at EOSC Summit, Brussels, 12 June 2017

Yesterday, 12th June 2017, the high-level European Open Science Cloud Summit took place in Brussels, Belgium. The Summit was designed to be Europe’s moment of commitment to the EOSC and to generate a number of concrete EOSC Statements for implementation. By reviewing key areas of EOSC implementation and endorsing the EOSC statements,  participants would commit to making the EOSC a reality by 2020. As a clear marker of willingness to build the EOSC as an inclusive and sustainable open commons for Europe’s research and innovation system, the meeting was hugely important.

Yannis Ioannidis, Professor at the Department of Informatics and Telecommunications of the University of Athens and President and General Director of the ATHENA Research and Innovation Center, represented OpenAIRE at the Summit and delivered the following input statement on our behalf:

OpenAIRE is the e-Infrastructure that implements Open Access and Open Science policies in Europe. Starting from OA to publications, we have moved in the past years to support OA to data (including FAIR data), open peer review methodologies, and most recently to support scientific knowledge of all kinds, i.e., online software tools, questions, ideas, and speculations.

As a preamble, based on our experience in working with a diverse range of disciplines, I would like to bring the following “wisdom” to the forum:

  • Policies go hand in hand with implementation: From its onset, OpenAIRE has realized that Europe’s diversity and cultural differences need a pragmatic approach that requires not only technical services but also “human services”. A human infrastructure, which is well educated and well equipped to address today’s data and policy challenges.
  • Reinforcing and rephrasing what some earlier speakers have said, Open data, FAIR data is a nice selling/marketing concept, but the tools and services that bind all this together are not easily implementable, as the “devil is in the details”. It is imperative to engage the full spectrum of stakeholders that relate to all aspects of the research lifecycle, going beyond researchers, i.e., funders, academic research offices, data centers, etc.

More specifically, we very much welcome the current design of EOSC, which emphasizes the commons concept, is user-centric, and has a national node support structure. This is at the heart of OpenAIRE’s participatory design with 34 nodes  (the so called National Open Access Desks) and interoperation of services already existing at the institutional and national levels. Based on these principles, OpenAIRE represents an existing commitment to the Open Science agenda for 10 years already,

OpenAIRE fits squarely into the proposed model, acting as a pan-European coordinator and aggregator node, reaching out to national nodes and coordinating them on open science implementation. From its inception, OpenAIRE represents a grass roots initiative and continues in the same fashion. Our commitment to EOSC and its effective implementation for open science should be taken as a given.

Based on our experience with OpenAIRE and the central role it is already playing in Open Science, there are 5 key points we would like to stress or act upon:

1. EOSC is much broader than a data commons. EOSC must have a holistic approach and address all stages of scientific knowledge production, sharing and dissemination. The focus of the EOSC Summit input papers continues to be heavily focused on data services and research performance, although the Open Science agenda [1] goes way beyond data stewardship and data-sharing practices. To be effective and successful, EOSC must support Open Science through the entire research lifecycle, from conception of research ideas all the way to publication and peer evaluation, and include all research tools, artefacts and services used or produced in-between, including for example, software, instrument and infrastructure specifications, protocols and methods.

2. Core services. The shift from the standard practices of publishing research results in scientific publications towards sharing, using, and reusing all available knowledge at an earlier stage in the research process cannot occur without the development of appropriate infrastructures hosting a new generation of technological services supporting the new scholarly practices. In addition to the main EOSC functionality services stated in the papers, EOSC must provide gluing services that achieve the following:

  • deal as much as possible with policies hand-in-hand with technologies
  • treat metatada as first class citizens and monitor them as they arise during the entire research lifecycle
  • collect the full range of indicators that are necessary to support several new open scholarly evaluation metrics to be also used in research assessment
  • provide a Linked Open Science view of all research, by linking data, publications, funding, facilities, software, organizations, people and all other research artefacts, essentially offering a space for all European Research Information.

3. Common functions across different disciplines. There is much overlap between domain specific communities on how they view and develop e-Science services. It is, therefore, crucial to accelerate and intensify the infiltration of horizontal e-Infrastructures into disciplinary or national e-Science infrastructures. We expect that EOSC will facilitate and accelerate such “fusion”. The “Open Science as a Service” approach of OpenAIRE is a perfect example of such infiltration, providing to research communities off-the-shelf services to accelerate Open Science.

In addition to gradually integrating disciplinary data infrastructures into EOSC, research libraries are of key importance to the success of EOSC and should be integrated into it as well. After all, they are the organizations that are predominantly in the business of supporting the long tail of science researchers. Fortunately, there are already existing networks (OpenAIRE and LIBER) that we can use to link research libraries to the Open Science and the FAIR data agendas.

4. Knowledge as a Service. We welcome the idea of embedding Knowledge as a Service (KAAS) into EOSC, which becomes very important as we open up research data. OpenAIRE has created a so called Open Scholarly Communication Graph that already serves as a great example of such KAAS and is already used by many academic and commercial organizations around the world:

  • Policy makers and policy consultants for evaluation.
  • Text and data mining services to produce advanced research analytics.
  • Commercial library services to offer value added services for their researchers.
  • Research libraries as a one-stop shop for scholarly communication data on funding.
  • Some global indexes around the world to promote the OA results.

But there are many more, as knowledge resources slowly become the norm in an inter-disciplinary environment. Being an open and transparent endeavour in all its manifestations, EOSC must be the gatekeeper for the use of open standards and open protocols in such value-added services.

5. Open Science coordination at the national level. EOSC must be an all-inclusive endeavour where all national-level stakeholders that are relevant to research participate, way beyond just the national data centres, such as data science institutes, scholarly societies, publishers, and others. Open Science is a buzzword to many, but it is a fact that Open Science needs good distributors, facilitators and coordinators of policy implementation at the national level. We propose the following actions:

  • Involve research libraries, as they can serve very well the role of intermediaries for policy alignment, but also for a user driven and user evaluated approach to Open Science. Libraries are the ones that come in direct contact with researchers and provide practical, hands-on support services.
  • Facilitate the continuous effort and investment for open science policy coordination. Based on OpenAIRE’s 10-year experience of building and operating such a national network in 34 countries (National Open Access Desks), we want to see that EOSC facilitates a tighter engagement and stronger commitment from European member states and associated As it is taking the steps to become a legal entity, OpenAIRE is already looking into this and looks forward to work together with EOSC to establish an Open Science Partnership program (similar to Open Government Partnership: https://www.opengovpartnership.org).

[1] FOSTER Open Science taxonomy: https://www.fosteropenscience.eu/foster-taxonomy/open-science

Tony Ross-Hellauer

OpenAIRE2020 Scientific Manager at Göttingen State and University Library, University of Göttingen. Email: ross-hellauer@sub.uni-goettingen.de

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