Since 2002, the world entered the digital age. That is when we started storing more digital than analog information. Ever since then, new policies and laws have been established and then continually improved - in merely every aspect of life - for a good reason.
Think of research. Research is also not what it used to be considering the digital changes since researchers produce more data than ever. There has been a growing concern about what we do with data, how we handle it, and what we keep and delete. This prompted the demands of responsible science to enable and improve the management of vast amounts of data and keep an eye on ethical and legal issues while doing so. At the same time, this requires practices that can save time, money, and effort. That is how Open Science came into existence.
ORION Open Science defines Open Science as „the movement to make scientific research, data and their dissemination available to any member of an inquiring society, from professionals to citizens. It impinges on principles of scientific growth and public access including practices such as publishing open research and campaigning for open access, with the ultimate aim of making it easier to publish and communicate scientific knowledge.' Ultimately, as FOSTER Open Science puts it „Open Science is about extending the principles of openness to the whole research cycle, fostering sharing and collaboration as early as possible thus entailing a systemic change to the way science and research is done“. As such, Open Science is a policy priority at different levels:
1. European Commission - European Open Science Cloud (EOSC)
Open Science is a policy priority of the European Commission, adopted as a standard method in its research and innovation funding programs to improve the quality, efficiency, and responsiveness of research. The European Commission requires beneficiaries of research and innovation funding to make their publications available in open access and make their data as open as possible and as closed as necessary. It also recognizes and rewards the participation of citizens and end users.
Apart from promoting FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable data) and open data sharing, the European Commission set up the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) is an ambitious cloud project to offer European researchers an environment for data storage, management, analysis, access and reuse across disciplines and beyond social and geographical borders. It is envisaged as a one-stop shop for all European researchers.
2. Flemish Open Science Board (FOSB)
The Flemish Government approved the Flemish Open Science policy plan and decided to set up and compile the Flemish Open Science Board (FOSB). FOSB unites all Flemish stakeholders in a shared vision for the future concerning Open Science and EOSC, supported by technical working groups. It advises on steps to be taken to fully integrate Flanders into the international Open Science landscape. It has five key performance indicators (KPIs): ORCiD, FAIR, Data Management Plans (DMPs), Open Access, and Open Data.
3. UAntwerpen policies
The University of Antwerp adds a concrete dimension to the great importance it attaches to the highest scientific, ethical, and integrity requirements, in particular concerning Open Science. At present, the UAntwerpen is developing the necessary services and technical infrastructures to optimally support its researchers in Open Science throughout the Research Data Life Cycle. This is done through the Research Policy Plan 2018-2022, the RDM policy plan, and the Open Access Policy. UAntwerpen also endorses the ALLEA code, which also includes elements of Open Science.
There are some immediate actions that you, as a researcher, can take to support the Open Science Movement and help UAntwerpen meeting Open Science KPI:
Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID) is a unique and permanent reference to you as a scientific researcher. In other words, it is a long-lasting, if not permanent, link between you and your research output. ORCID is similar to digital object identifiers (DOIs) which are persistent identifiers for journal articles, books, and datasets. Except, ORCID is a persistent identifier for a person.
Thanks to ORCID, your work will always be identifiable as your own, even if you change institutions, have a difficult family name, etc. Importantly, ORCID is independent of the storage location. Unlike URLs, which may break over time, OCID will always reliably point to you. You can also link it to Publons, Scopus, Github, etc. ORCID is integrated into many systems used by publishers, funders, institutions, and other research-related services. It is also becoming more and more a requirement of many journal manuscript submission systems and grant application forms.
If you already do not have ORCID, register here!
It is expected that researchers from the UAntwerpen share their research under FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) principles. Findable means that data (and metadata) are easy to find both by humans and computers (for example, by using a DOI). Accessible means that data are archived in long-term storage (such as repositories) and accessible using standard procedures (including authentication and authorization). Interoperable means that the data can be read by open file formats (unlike with licensed software). Reusable means that the data contain enough context about their creation and that it is possible to reproduce the results and reuse the data by applying clear terms and conditions (for example, by adding a README file).
Can you adhere to FAIR?
A Data Management Plan (DMP) is a formal document that outlines (1) the data you expect to generate or reuse (2) how you will handle those data during and after a research project, and (3) how you will preserve and share your data after the end of our project. Every DMP contains general information, data description, information about ethical and legal issues, documentation and metadata, short-term storage and backup, long-term preservation, sharing and reuse of data, and responsibilities. The DMP is also an evolving document that can and should be adjusted as your research progresses.
Do not worry! The RDM Team is there to support you.
4. Open Access
Open access publication is a scientific publication that should be freely available online for everyone without financial, technical, or legal barriers.
All UAntwerpen authors must add the final author version or an open-access publisher version when they register a journal article in the academic bibliography. Submitted versions are made open access according to the publisher's copyright policy and/or the Belgian Open Access regulation.
Open Access increases the visibility of research output, supports innovation and knowledge economy, and helps to close the knowledge gap between the Global North and the Global South.
Confused about Open Access options? Check the library’s website!
5. Open Data
More and more research funders expect researchers to make their research data openly available. Open Data is data that may be (re)used and distributed by anyone, with the possible obligation to cite the data and/or to use (a) data license(s). The guiding principle at UAntwerpen should be that the data are as open as possible and as closed as necessary (due to ethical and legal concerns).
Open Data does not equal to FAIR data sharing. FAIR does not mean that data is intended for public availability, meaning that data do not have to be open (freely used by anyone) to be FAIR. Ideally, the UAntwerpen aims to increase the amount of FAIR and open data.
Remember: OPEN ≠ FAIR = Data do not have to be open (freely used by anyone) to be FAIR!