Today’s researchers use digital tools in all facets of their work. They innovate, develop new tools and create digital platforms and valuable data which they then manage. Their publications are natively digital.
However, it is often difficult to access these digital scientific productions from research. They may involve non-public or non-documented resources, require a subscription to a resource or to have purchased it for use. They might also require user identification in varied ways according to the resource concerned or be in incompatible or even inconsistent formats. This all hampers the fully effective use of digital technology. The Open Science movement aims to put this situation right.
Open science promotes taking a transversal approach to the question of access to scientific work and to the aims and sharing of scientific results. It also inherently involves a new way of practising science by opening up processes, codes, methods and protocols. Open access makes the movement towards disseminating scientific production on the Internet possible. It removes barriers to access while maintaining the levels of protection offered by copyright.
As open as possible and closed as necessary
A political, scientific and civic dynamic
There are at least three good reasons for developing open science – a scientific reason, a civic reason and an economic, social and political reason.
- Sharing scientific knowledge makes research more effective, more visible, and less redundant. The use of new tools, particularly those derived from the field of artificial intelligence, has led to a new way of doing research which is more transversal and facilitates interdisciplinarity.
- Open Science changes the way research is integrated into society by helping to restore citizens’ trust in scientists which strengthens scientific integrity. Accessibility for many actors and disciplines empower responses to contemporary issues.
- The publication of scientific results and the sharing of data from largely publicly funded research allow us to regain control of a system that had escaped us, becoming financially unsustainable in its current projection at a time when scientific output is steadily increasing.
The advances made by the French Law for a Digital Republic
The French Law for a Digital Republic was promulgated on October 7th 2016 with the aim of preparing France for challenges linked to the digital transition and the economy of tomorrow. It promotes innovation and the development of the digital economy, an open, reliable digital society and the protection of citizens’ rights. Another of its aims is to guarantee access for all, in all territories, to digital opportunities.
It should help accelerate and boost knowledge sharing to galvanise the open science movement in terms of data, publications and exploration.
In terms of open science, the Law for a Digital Republic promotes open access to scientific publications from public research through the rights attributed to researchers to disseminate their articles after a short embargo period of 6 to 12 months whatever the contract between researchers and publishers of the journals publishing their articles.
More generally, the Law aims to achieve open access to the results of publicly funded research and authorises text and data mining. The results of research whose financing is more than 50% from public funds will be made available online in open access by their authors after an embargo period of 6 (for STM) to 12 months (for the HSS). This measure will facilitate the free dissemination of research results which was previously often restricted and overly controlled by publishers. The law also authorises online text and data mining which is an essential practice, particularly in humanities and social sciences research. This practice was previously forbidden and this provision should enable France to catch up on the international scene as regards this subject.
The emergence of the National Plan for Open Science
On July 4th 2018, the French Minister for Higher Education, Research and Innovation announced the National Plan for Open Science which defines three main areas requiring work – publications, data, and transversal actions – divided into nine measures.
At the same time, a Committee for Open Science (CoSO) was set up with the Chief Executive Officer of Research and Innovation as its president. It is divided into four colleges namely publications, research data, skills and training and finally Europe and International. CNRS researchers and members of the DDOR are present in all four colleges.