Open Science and EOSC

open-science.it: shared science

The new italian open-science.it portal was launched on 29 October 2021, during the Open Access Week. The portal is dedicated to Open Science and Open Access to scientific research results and provides general information, training material, news and updates, news of events relating to the Open Science movement with an international perspective and a specific focus on Italy.
Specific resources are provided for different types of users: researcher, research institution, funding body, citizen.

While Open Access (OA) was created with the main objective of free access to research results under appropriate licences, Open Science (OS) involves a radical change in approach, because it extends OA to the entire life of data (instead of publications only), from the beginning of a research project onwards.

Open Science main principles are:

  • knowledge is a common good; if the research is financed with public funds, Open Science is a duty towards the public
  • sustainability, collaboration and inclusion
  • research ethics, such as transparency of the production process of scientific data
  • the reproducibility of scientific data
  • civil society participation

Participation in Open Science not only leads to an increase in knowledge, but also to market innovation (with access to basic research) and to an economic return on investments. “If I had to express my views about the digital future - that of Europe or indeed, of the whole world - I could do it with one word: data. The digital economy revolves around data. It is the driving force behind those three main elements of productivity, innovation and digitalisation. Let’s not lose time being afraid - let’s build an open and vibrant data economy” (Andrus Ansip, Productivity, Innovation and digitalisation, 2015).

The benefits of Open Science for society as a whole are many:

  • an increase in quality interdisciplinary knowledge, transparent, certified (no fake news), free and uploaded in real time thanks to the internet
  • better use of scientific data through their reuse
  • narrowing the scientific divide that excludes researchers who operate in developing countries (excluded by the unsustainability of the costs of scientific publications)

Surveys have shown that only some European researchers use digital infrastructure and few publish in OA. This is in part due to a lack of national OA policies and support strategies.

The role of the repository in Open Science is especially important in relation to the European Open Science Cloud. "The path to open science contains many components. One of these components is open repositories with free access to researchers. With a strict open path, the repository is also based on Open Source Software. Open access policies are essential, as are open infrastructures and open contents. Repositories can support this openness by offering open licenses, open metadata, the possibility to use open formats and open thesaureses. Another principal point is transparency. Open peer review should be possible, and the description of processes should also be transparent. Of course, an open license should provide all data types and metadata as well" (Susanne Blumesberger, Ways to Open Science. Open Research Infrastructures and the role of repositories, 2019).

In the context of scientific research, we find Research Data Management (RDM). This derives from the need to guarantee the reproducibility of research, in compliance with the data management policy established by the institution.
RDM must be supported by local and national governance through policies that define the roles and activities for which the institution and the researcher are responsible.

The implementation of an RDM policy is a fundamental element in support of the European Open Science Cloud; this strategic document is the responsibility of the institutional governing bodies.

The University policy recognises the value of data as a scientific product, it recognises the importance of their management in order to keep the research standard high and is committed to applying high standards for data collection, archiving and storage, according to the recommendation by the European Commission.

The policy defines the areas of application, data processing rules, responsibilities, rights and duties of the institution and of the researcher and the period of data retention.

Research data means factual recording, in the form of numbers, symbols, texts, images, sounds, which are used as primary sources for the research, accepted among research communities to validate the research.
Facts, observations, experiences, new sources, bibliographical references, software and codes, texts and objects can all be considered the results of research.
Research data can be expressed in numbers, descriptive text, audio, video in rows or as processed data.

Research funding programmes increasingly demand that research data be made available to allow validation of scientific publications because "a research published without data is just the advertising of the research" (Barkhiet-Donoho, WaveLab and Reproducible Research, 1995).

The proper publication of data must be accompanied by an appropriate licence to ensure the correct citation of the source (as is the case for OA publications and the application of Creative Commons licences).

Here a definition of open data: “Open data is data that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone - subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and sharealike:  availability and access, re-use and distribution, universal participation, interoperability.The focus is on non-personal data, that is, data which does not contain information about specific individuals. For some kinds of government data, national security restrictions may apply.” (source: opendatahandbook.org).

For this reason, closed access must be justified (according to the principle of Open Access by default with some opt outs / as open as possible, as closed as necessary) and applicable to specific well-defined cases (protection of the privacy of the people involved in the research, security reasons, production of sensitive data, economic exploitation of research results/patents) or otherwise duly justified.

The sharing of research results (data and publications) implies problems of preservation, access, integrity, licenses; to be truly open, data must be FAIR (Findable - Accessible - Interoperable - Reusable), that is to say accessible, searchable, usable, evaluable and understandable (Barend Mons et al., The FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific data management and stewardship in Scientific Data, 2016).

The FAIR principles requires data to be:

  1. Findable: traceable and described using persistent markers (alphanumeric strings uniquely identifying the data). e.g. DOI, rich metadata, standardized taxonomies (Dubin Core, ADS Guides and Guidelines for metadata, DCC guide for Metadata standards , exc.) and  registered repository.
  2. Accessible: available for sharing and reuse, with fewer restrictions unless for a motivated reason, according to the principle Open Access by default with some opt outs/as open access as possible, as closed as necessary. This status should not be confused with “open data.”
  3. Interoperable: saved in non-compressed, non-coded, documented standard format that can be processed by operating systems compliant with FAIR principles.
  4. Reusable:  provided with licences and information on how they were developed.

For more information on the FAIR principles, with examples and insights, and to self-check if your data is FAIR, use these tools:
GO-FAIR
FAIR assessment tool
FAIR Aware

The compatibility of data produced by research with the FAIR principles is guaranteed by the correct development of the Data Management Plan (DMP).

The DMP is the most important instrument for data workflow: data collection, data documentation, data storage & backup, data access & security, data preservation & reuse.

It can be defined as a formal data management plan that accompanies research activity and describes which data are collected, processed and generated, where they are archived, which licences and limitations are applied and who has the right to reuse them.
It guarantees accountable data management so that the data are FAIR.

The DMP is also an instrument of planning and communication, right from the start of the research project, for the gathering, storage, reuse and disclosure of data and metadata. The richer the metadata, the greater the discoverability of the data.

The draft DMP is edited by the principal investigator (as in the case for the Data Monitoring Board templates) or online tool (DCC, Data Stewardship Wizard, easyDMP) and covers the whole life of the data, guaranteeing its traceability, availability, authenticity, appropriate retention, suitable legal parameters and security measures.

The data must be: reliable, solid, complete, exhaustive, unique and certified.

DMP actors include:

  • funding body
  • principal investigator
  • support structures
  • research institute

To find out more, please consult the website of the Ca' Foscari Data Monitoring Board which has developed 2 templates of DMP: simplified DMP for Ethic Issues (in case of sensitive data or problems related to the privacy of research data) and complete DMP for Open Data (in case of data that can be used, modified and shared by anyone for any reason).

Open Science is a goal of the European Commission, which in 2015 launched a project to reinforce European policy towards the creation of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) by the year 2020. EOSC is a freely accessible cloud platform based on already existing infrastructure and intended to be used for managing, sharing, reusing data, according to security standards and legal norms.

"According to the Commission, the EOSC is not an actual cloud service, it is a kind of reengineering of existing e-infrastructures based on scientific data. The EOSC will be a federated environment for the sharing and re-use of scientific data, based on existing and emerging elements in the Member States, with lightweight international guidance and governance and a large degree of freedom regarding practical implementation”.  In this context Open Science is seen in a visionary way, as a movement to make scientific research, data, and dissemination accessible at all levels of an enquiring society. This will be possible only if we understand how to manage and steer the different components and players, at all levels of the Open Science Cloud” (Paolo Budroni, The Data Way to OpenScience - Understanding Policies, 2017).

European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) is a technological ecosystem, which is based on already existing infrastructure and intended to offer an environment for managing, sharing and reusing data, according to security standards and legal norms (Realising the European Open Science Cloud).

In EOSC, sustainability, sharing and collaboration are keys words that replace narrowness and competition.

Our university is among the first in Italy to point towards the EOSC by promoting the OA movement through the organisation of events and workshops (Open Science @ Ca' Foscari):

EOSC. Scenari evolutivi e sviluppi in ambito italiano - 3 April 2019
The European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) versus the single Research Institution. Drawing the scenario at local level - 28 August - 5 September 2017
New Roles in Open Science and Data Stewardship - 25 November 2016

Last update: 23/11/2021