On 4 and 5 April 2016 the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science hosted the ‘Open Science – from vision to action’ conference. Under the chairmanship of State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science Sander Dekker, the EU member states adopted the Amsterdam Call for Action on Open Science.
During its EU Presidency, the Netherlands has lobbied for a European approach to open science. This includes open access to scientific publications and open access to and optimum reuse of research data. This is important for researchers and students, and also for many people outside academia who currently have no access, or have to pay high prices for access. Everyone benefits from free online access to scientific publications and shared research data. They allow doctors to learn about the latest treatments, companies to apply the latest scientific insights more quickly in the form of product innovations, and teachers to use the latest scientific knowledge in their lessons.
European action plan
The action plan sets out specific objectives and action points to accelerate the advent of open science in Europe. Academics, universities, research institutions, publishers, EU member states and the European Commission set out two objectives for Europe:
- full access to all government-funded scientific publications by 2020
- standard reuse and sharing of data from publicly-funded research.
More unified policy
Everyone will have to contribute if these objectives are to be achieved. Academic evaluation and assessment systems must change. Universities and research funding bodies must give more consideration to the impact of research and the sharing of results, instead of focusing only on the number of publications and citations. The EU member states and European Commission must harmonise their policies to make open access and open data possible. This will enable all those involved to share knowledge, strategies and successful approaches to open science more effectively.
Big step forward
Sander Dekker was pleased with the joint approach, which enjoyed Europe-wide support. ‘Science is pre-eminently an international enterprise, so free access to scientific publications, data exchange and new assessment systems need to be tackled internationally,’ he said. ‘I’m confident that this plan, with its clear goals and coherent action points, marks a big step forward.’
Access to scientific papers
The Open Science conference led European research and innovation ministers to decide that all scientific publications on the results of publicly-funded research should be freely accessible in Europe from 2020, and that research data should be reused unless this raises problems connected with intellectual property, security or privacy. They took this decision at the meeting of the Competitiveness Council on 27 May 2016. ‘Research and innovation generate economic growth and more jobs and provide solutions to social challenges,’ Mr Dekker said. ‘And that means a stronger Europe.’