European Open Science Cloud: currently and in the near future

Development of open science in the European Research Area follows provisions and recommendations in the 2016 documents, i.e., Amsterdam call for action on open science, Council conclusions on the transition towards an open science system (9526/16) and European Cloud Initiative – building a competitive data and knowledge economy in Europe COM(2016) 178 final. The latter has introduced the concept of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), which should also enable more effective open innovation and digital single market. EOSC Declaration was adopted at the EOSC Summit in June 2017. The EOSC roadmap is being prepared.

EOSCpilot is the first of EOSC projects, funded through the European Commission’s framework programmes. The project has organized a stakeholder forum at the end of November 2017, which was attended by approximately 340 participants. The EOSC was also a topic at the Digital Infrastructures for Research 2017 conference, taking place immediately after the stakeholder forum, it was attended by approximately 420 participants from 34 countries.

In this post we report on the EOSC current status and about plans for the future, as presented at the two events.

What is the EOSC?

The EOSC is envisaged as a trusted distributed, decentralised virtual environment, a system of systems, where components are independently provided and managed by different organizations. The EOSC enables access to services and systems, and re-use of shared research data across disciplinary, social and geographical borders. It federates existing scientific data infrastructures to offer stakeholders seamless access to services for storage, management, analysis and re-use of research data.

The EOSC service portfolio is to grow incrementally according to stakeholder-defined principles and user needs. Sustainability should be imbedded in the EOSC from the beginning. Principles of engagement in the EOSC should be lightweight, enabling inclusive approach, discoverability of existing services and minimum specification of services as well as providing policy aspects and legal solutions.

The European Commission on the EOSC

The Commission’s vision for the EOSC in the next six to seven years is unified access, service catalogue, open standards, cross disciplinary, open data, international, public research infrastructures and e-infrastructures. Governance is not yet clear.

Activities are being funded to establish the EOSC, i.e., projects EOSCpilot, eINFRA Central, EOSC-hub, OpenAIRE-Advance as well as co-funding of RDA (Research Data Alliance). Establishment of new innovative services is planned (FREYA – discoverability and PIDs, DARE, DEEP HybridDataCY, PROCESS, XDC and EUXDAT – all on computing).

Ten percent of Work Programme 2018-2020 budget will go to open science e-infrastructures to implement:

  • In INFRAEOSC-01-2018 call: access to commercial services through EOSC-hub.
  • In INFRAEOSC-02-2019 call: prototyping new innovative services.
  • In INFRAEOSC-03-2020 call: integration and consolidation of pan-European access to public e-infrastructures and commercial services through EOSC-hub.
  • In GÉANT-FPA: research and education networking, increase of long-term backbone capacity.

Planning towards Framework Programme Nine (FP9) has commenced with the Lamy report in summer 2017 (i.e., report of the High Level Group on maximising impact of EU Research and Innovation Programmes – LAB – FAB – APP: Investing in the European future we want).

High Level Expert Group on the EOSC

The first EOSC HLEG (2015-2016) has prepared Realising the European Open Science Cloud: first report and recommendations of the Commission High Level Expert Group on the European Open Science Cloud (2016), which contains policy, governance and implementation recommendations. The majority of challenges to reach functional EOSC are cultural rather than technical. The major technical challenge is the complexity of the data and analytics procedures across disciplines rather than the size of the data per se. There is an alarming shortage of data experts both globally and in the European Union (here likely exceeding half a million within a decade). Modern reward and recognition practices need to support data sharing and re-use.

The tasks of the second EOSC HLEG (2017-2018) are a setup of data driven infrastructures based on what exists, for different scholarly communities, recommendations and practices for the EOSC. Incentives should be designed to make the EOSC human-centric (people, data, training), user friendly collaborative tool, with incentive mechanisms for recognition. Among future activities of HLEG are liaison with EU Member States, global interoperability, high level priorities and excellence.

EOSCpilot and EOSC-hub

EOSCpilot (33 partners, 2017-2018, H2020) is exploring some of the scientific, technical and cultural challenges that need to be addressed in the deployment of the EOSC. The project’s 15 Science Demonstrators show how to use EOSC services across a range of research domains and how to embed research in the EOSC. EOSCpilot is establishing a skills framework, developing a proposal for a governance framework for the EOSC and contributing to the development of European Open Science policy.

EOSC-hub (74 partners, 2018-2020, H2020) will integrate and manage services for the EOSC. Twenty pan-European digital infrastructures work jointly on services, software, and research data. The hub will be a federated system for the EOSC, with a catalogue of resources and services as a contact point for researchers. It will be community defined (policies, federation services) and will incorporate quality assurance reviews and contain competence centres (a Joint Innovation Hub).

What about EU Member States?

The EOSC developments should be closely followed by EU Member States. The national open science landscape should be analysed to determine which EOSC infrastructures are already present and at which level of development (examples of analysis: Italian Computing and Data Infrastructure (ICDI): status and next steps, The Dutch National e-Infrastructure for Research: Current status and challenges). The analysis will identify national points of priority European research infrastructures (e.g., OpenAIRE, EUDAT, EGI, IndigoDataCloud, HelixNebula, PRACE, GÉANT). At the European level, these infrastructures will collaborate on the development of the EOSC, their national points should be stimulated likewise. Each EU Member State has nominated a National Point of Reference on Scientific Information which should also take part. National open science policies, establishment of national EOSC infrastructures, research evaluation, monitoring, support and training should be aligned with the European level of EOSC, allowing for national specificities, if needed.


Sources of information:

Mojca Kotar

Mojca Kotar, Assistant Secretary General of the University of Ljubljana in the University Office of Library Services. OpenAIRE National Open Access Desk for Slovenia.

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