D1.1 Technology survey: Prospective and challenges - Revised version (2018)

8 Priority areas, challenges and research directions in FP7 and H2020 projects

8.3 Open Access Initiatives for EU

Open access is an important practice for European research, as new rules state "Under Horizon 2020, each beneficiary must ensure open access to all peer-reviewed scientific publications relating to its results” (extract from a typical Research Grant). This means it has to become a practice of providing on-line access to scientific information that is free of charge to the reader. Open Access does not interfere with the protection of research results such as, but not limited to, patenting, and therefore with their commercial exploitation. It should be noted, however, that patent publications are not considered Open Access dissemination, since the latter only refers to publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

European Commission sees Open Access not as an end in itself but as a tool to facilitate and improve the circulation of information and transfer of knowledge in the European Research Area (ERA) and beyond. The Commission adopted the ERA Communication entitled “A Reinforced European Research Area Partnership for Excellence and Growth” . The ERA is a unified research area open to the world based on the Internal Market, in which researchers, scientific knowledge and technology circulate freely. One of the key actions foreseen to achieve this goal is to optimize the circulation, access to and transfer of scientific knowledge. 

The 2012 Recommendation on access to and preservation of scientific information (2012/417/EU) was part of a package that outlined measures to improve access to scientific information produced in Europe and to bring them in line with the Commission's own policy for Horizon 2020. Although still considered a very valuable and impactful tool for policymaking, the Recommendation has been revised in the context of the recast of the Public Sector Information Directive (PSI) to reflect developments in practices and policies in open science and in view of the preparation of the next Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (Horizon Europe).

The new Recommendation C (2018) 2375, adopted on April 25th, 2018, now explicitly reflects developments in areas such as research data management (including the concept of FAIR data i.e. data that is Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Re-usable), Text and Data Mining (TDM) and technical standards that enable re-use incentive schemes. It reflects ongoing developments at the EU level of the European Open Science Cloud, and it more accurately considers the increased capacity of data analytics of today and its role in research. It also clearly identifies as two separate points the issue of reward systems for researchers to share data and commit to other open science practices on the one hand, and skills and competences of researchers and staff from research institutions on the other hand.

In this framework, today EU puts a great emphasis on the governance and the funding of an Open Science Cloud. The Commission has already decided to make scientific data generated in Horizon 2020 open by default, through a European Commission 'European Cloud initiative', issued in April 2016, which sets a very ambitious vision for the European Open Science Cloud; it draws a clear roadmap and set concrete commitments for the Commission to make this vision a reality by 2020. The Commission appointed a High-Level Expert Group on the European Open Science Cloud to advise on the scientific services to be provided on the cloud and on its governance structure. The initiative reinforces Open Science, Open Innovation and Open to the world policies. It will foster best practices of global data findability and accessibility (FAIR data), help researchers get their data skills recognized and rewarded (careers, altmetrics); help address issues of access and copyright (IPR) and data subject privacy; allow easier replicability of results and limit data wastage e.g. of clinical trial data (research integrity); contribute to clarification of the funding model for data generation and preservation, reducing rent-seeking and priming the market for innovative research services e.g. advanced TDM (new business models).

The European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) is a vision for a federated, globally accessible, multidisciplinary environment where researchers, innovators, companies and citizens can publish, find, use and reuse each other's data, tools, publications and other outputs for research, innovation and educational purposes. Making this vision a reality is essential to empower Europeans to tackle the global challenges ahead. The EOSC is one of five broad policy action lines of the European open science agenda endorsed also by the EC Communications on the Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy. 

During 2016, the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation of the EC set up the Open Science Policy Platform (OSPP), a high-level expert advisory group having the mandate to support the development and implementation of the open science policy in Europe. The selected 25 experts belonging to different stakeholder groups are called to tackle the following different dimensions of open science: reward system, measuring quality and impact (altmetrics), changing business models for publishing, FAIR open data, European Open Science Cloud, research integrity, citizen science, open education and skills. 

The EOSC is expected to grow into a federated ecosystem of organisations and infrastructures from different countries and communities. As such, it poses a number of challenges in different areas: 1) Governance structure and principles: to identify the distribution of rights and responsibilities among the different entities in the EOSC ecosystem and rules for making decisions; 2) Financial schemes: to shape the best financial mechanisms that can enable the EOSC ecosystem to flourish and deliver value in an efficient way; 3) Other relevant areas: awareness, skills development and ethics.

In the context of Data4Water, the first Pilot on Open Research Data included explicitly data on „marine and maritime and inland water research” . The result is an Open Research Data Pilot (OpenAIRE) publically availble, containing Accessible Research results.

Figure 32. The repository contains over 33.900 records of Openly Accessible research data on Water Management alone (as of July 2018).

In parallel with that, the INSPIRE Directive aims to create a European Union spatial data infrastructure for the purposes of EU environmental policies and policies or activities which may have an impact on the environment (highly relevant for the direction of Data4Water). This European Spatial Data Infrastructure is set to enable the sharing of environmental spatial information among public sector organisations, facilitate public access to spatial information across Europe and assist in policy-making across boundaries. INSPIRE is based on the infrastructures for spatial information established and operated by the Member States of the European Union. The Directive addresses 34 spatial data themes needed for environmental applications. The Directive came into force on 15 May 2007 and is implemented in various stages, with full implementation required by 2021.