European Academies call for Excellence, Fairness and Openness in the Implementation of Horizon Europe

ALLEA submitted a statement to the European Commission calling for a strong and well-resourced framework programme guided by principles of excellence, fairness and openness, and making concrete suggestions on their implementation in the current draft of the Commission’s Strategic Plan on Horizon Europe.

Within the frame of open consultations on the EU’s next Research and Innovation Framework Programme Horizon Europe, ALLEA, through its Working Group Horizon Europe, has produced the statement “Delivering Horizon Europe”. Considering the European Commission’s Orientations towards the Strategic Plan implementing the research and innovation framework programme Horizon Europe as well as discussions during the recent Research and Innovation Days, ALLEA reiterates its priorities and provides concrete suggestions for amendments to the programme.

In order to achieve better conditions for research and innovation in the EU in the coming decades, and to position European research successfully in a competitive global environment, ALLEA believes it is of vital importance to consider the following points in the implementation process of Horizon Europe:

  • Focus on funding excellence and ‘blue sky thinking’ through successful instruments like the European Research Council (ERC);
  • Continue and intensify support for research mobility through programmes like Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) or ERASMUS;
  • Arrange for fair and equal distribution of funds on the different clusters of Pillar 2 “Global Challenges and Industrial Competitiveness” in Horizon Europe;
  • Follow a broad understanding of innovation which goes beyond technological innovation and hence supports interdisciplinarity, and which recognizes the value of humanities and social sciences in a less technocratic and instrumental way;
  • Establish an independent, critical and continuous assessment of “Missions” in Horizon Europe;
  • Continue “Institutional Partnerships” from Horizon 2020;
  • Ensure Horizon Europe is ‘open to the world’ and allows for broad participation of Associated Countries.

 

Disrupting the Scientific Publishing System? Plan S and the Future of Open Access

The open access initiative Plan S has rekindled the debate on the future of open access and pushed the European research community to renew its commitment to a transition towards a fully open science system. ALLEA joined the discussion with the expertise of its working groups and elaborated an initial response to shift the focus of the initiative for the benefit of science and society. The debate is far from close and many ethical, legal and disciplinary considerations are still on the table. We asked ALLEA working groups’ chairs about some of the most relevant aspects of the future of open access.

We need to look at more than sticks and carrots – an analysis of conditions and infrastructures promoting high quality research is essential.

 

Göran Hermerén, Chair of the ALLEA Permanent Working Group Science and Ethics

Question: The past year has seen some great strides in the advancement of open access. Your working group has contributed both to addressing ethical considerations in general as well as those within Plan S. Do you think that we are now on the right path to achieving a good, ethically fair system of open access?

Göran Hermerén: Yes, on the whole. But more work on the implementation of open access remains to be done – including comprehensive dialogue with different stakeholders. This will take some time, but it is important, since the challenges, needs and publication habits vary among various disciplines. Care must be taken that countries and research institutions with less economic resources are not disfavoured. The role of the funding agencies is crucial, since they can impose conditions for their financial support of research projects.

Q.: ALLEA’s response to Plan S stressed the need for a corresponding reform of the research evaluation system. Where do you stand on this issue and what do you think is important to consider in any such reform?

G.H.: At our next meeting we will plan an activity focusing precisely on this. In the evaluation of research performance it is important to consider not only commonly used metrics that are thought to drive poor behaviour, such as journal impact factor, citation rates or even just numbers of publications, but take a broader view of approaches and incentives that could be used to promote research integrity and good scientific practice. Some metrics are required but these will need to be supplemented by other considerations such as the quality of the research (idea or output) and its potential to have beneficial societal or economic impacts in the longer term. The San Francisco DORA declaration is an important document in this debate. This also means we need to look at more than sticks and carrots –an analysis of conditions and infrastructures promoting high quality research is essential.

In the answers to both questions it will be important to keep an eye on unintended consequences of well-meaning proposals, and realise that what may work or even work well in one country or discipline might not work (or work well) in others.

 

Natalie Harrower, Chair of the ALLEA Working Group E Humanities

Question: While Plan S is putting a focus on open access to scientific publications your working group’s activities also include the broader context of open science and open data. What principles do you recommend should be followed here and how could they best be implemented?

Natalie Harrower: The movement towards greater openness, transparency, and widespread access to scientific research and the multiple products of that research has been grouped under the broader concept or movement known as ‘open science’. In terms of research transparency, integrity, acceleration and the democratisation of access to knowledge, open science as a movement is nothing less than revolutionary, and it should be broadly welcomed and supported at all levels.

Alongside the movement towards open access to scientific publications is the movement towards opening access to the research data that enables the findings detailed in these publications. Researchers should now turn their attention to following the FAIR principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reproducible) in data management, and seek guidance on how to create a data management plan (DMP) as early as possible in the research process (i.e. when preparing grant applications, or before undertaking a new programme of research). Researchers, and research support staff, should make themselves aware of any national policies on open science/open research/open scholarship, and can turn to funding agencies, research offices, academic libraries, or European sources for specific guidance. Umbrella organisations working to support and enable better research data sharing include the Research Data Alliance, CODATA, and Science Europe.

 

Researchers should now turn their attention to following the FAIR principles in data managament, and seek guidance on how to create a data management plan as early as possible in the research process.

Joseph Straus, Chair of the ALLEA Permanent Working Group Intellectual Property Rights

Question: Open access may generate conflicts with some aspects of the patenting system. One of the recommendations of the ALLEA Permanent Working Group Intellectual Property Rights refers to the need to adopt a grace period in Europe. Why is such a measure necessary and how should Plan S take into account this demand?

Joseph Straus: It may first be recalled that under the European Patent Convention and the patent laws of the EU Member States novelty destroying state of the art is everything which has been made available to the public in any way prior to the filing of the patent application. In other words, also own publications of the inventor him/herself constitute such a prior art.
In a number of countries, such as Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Japan and the United States, to name but a few, the institute of a so-called grace period exists, which enables the inventor, or his/her successor in title, to apply for a patent within a certain period of time (six or twelve months) from the publication date and enjoy immunity against their own publications.
Although all inventors and their research institutions have to be careful in allowing publication of research results prior to the filing of a patent application, inventors, especially from academic institutions, publish their research results without an adequate control as regards their patentability and potential commercial exploitation, and thus deprive themselves and their employers, eventually also the tax payers in case of publicly funded institutions, of any property rights in such research results.

 

Since the Plan S puts pressure on early publication of research results, the lack of grace period in the European patent law (s) will obviously aggravate the situation of European scientists/researchers and put them at even greater disadvantage as compared with their colleagues overseas.

ALLEA has since the 1990s repeatedly, but in vain, advocated in favour of an introduction of a grace period in the European Patent Convention and the patent laws of the EU Member States. For that purpose representatives of ALLEA met even the responsible EU Commissioner, and on different occasions also other representatives. It should be emphasised that because of intricacies of patent law, often, even a timely filed patent application does not adequately protect the inventor and his/her research institutions as regards the follow-on research.
In any case, a prudent handling of publication activities results, on the one hand in some delay of publication and still does not offer the necessary legal certainty. Since Plan S evidently puts pressure on early publication of research results and on open access to them, the lack of a grace period in the European patent law(s) will obviously aggravate the situation of European scientists/researchers and put them at an even greater disadvantage as compared with their colleagues overseas.

 

This interview was originally conducted for and published in ALLEA’s Annual Report 2018/2019

Mariana Mazzucato: From Market Fixing to Market Co-creation

Mariana Mazzucato is Professor in Economics of Innovation and Public Value at University College London (UCL). She was awarded the 2019 Madame de Staël Prize Laureate. The jury recognised “her novel thinking, challenging conventional wisdom in the understanding of the role of the state in public policy and innovation”. 

On 8 May 2019, she delivered the above lecture entitled ‘From Market Fixing to Market Co-creation: a Mission Oriented Approach’. The speech was part of the award ceremony held at the University of Bern.

Mazzucato is founder and Director of the UCL Institute for Innovation & Public Purpose (IIPP). Her books The entrepreneurial State and The Value of Everything have been highly acclaimed by academia and the public.

In Memoriam: Professor Giancarlo Vecchio

It is with great sadness that we inform about the passing of long-standing member and immediate past chair of ALLEA’s Science Education Working Group, Professor Giancarlo Vecchio, who deceased on 1 October 2019 in Naples. Professor Vecchio, representing the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, has contributed to the activities in the Working Group over many years, and has been highly recognised by his colleagues as an engaged and knowledgeable promoter of science education whose experience and expertise was second to none. His efforts and engagement for science education in general, and for the work of ALLEA in this field in particular, give true testimony to his dedication towards the next generation, who he felt should benefit from science and research in the best possible way.

Professor Vecchio will be sorely missed and our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.

World Science Forum 2019 – Budapest

Through the ALLEA Permanent Working Group Science and Ethics, as well as its recent publication “The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity”, ALLEA has reaffirmed its commitment to work on research integrity and ethics. To that end, we would like to highlight this year’s World Science Forum that takes place under the theme “Science, Ethics and Responsibility”.

Survey on Climate Education Activities in Europe

One key mission of the ALLEA Working Group Science Education is to support educational activities in science at all levels. A timely scientific topic that begs our attention as societies and individuals is climate change.

ALLEA Awarded H2020 Project on Public Trust in Expertise

PEriTiA (Policy, Expertise and Trust in Action) will explore the conditions under which people trust science and expertise used by governments and other societal decision-makers to inform their policies.

The multi-disciplinary Horizon 2020-funded project will be coordinated by University College Dublin (UCD) and co-led by ALLEA. It is a follow up of the ALLEA Truth, Trust and Expertise Working Group and the UCD project When Experts Disagree (WEXD).

Its main goal is to test how emotions and values influence the process of placing or refusing trust in expertise that shapes public policies. In a coordinated action of various qualitative and quantitative investigations, it will assess its conceptual and empirical framework with the exemplary case of climate science. Its final aim is to help building trustworthy and trust-enhancing narratives about the role of science in governance.

The initiative is funded by the EU research and innovation programme H2020 with €3 million for 3 years, starting in February 2020.

Policy, Expertise and Trust

Public trust in expertise plays a central role in democracy, but the rise of anti-elitist narratives and populist politics, among other factors, have put the credibility of experts into question.

In its discussion paper series, ALLEA examines different aspects of this topic including the alleged loss of trust in science and expertise, the role of the changing landscape of communication, and trust within science itself. PEriTiA will take a further step and explore some unanswered questions derived from this work.

“Given the central role assigned to expert bodies and organisations in social and political governance, (justified) trust in the information provided by scientific bodies and advisory organisations, by both the general public and policy makers, is a fundamental condition of good governance,” said Project Coordinator Maria Baghramian on UCD’s website, who has been an active part of the ALLEA Working Group Truth, Trust and Expertise and member of the Royal Irish Academy.

“Our aim, in this project, is to better understand the nature and conditions of trust in the public domain and to discover indicators which can be used in measuring and establishing the trustworthiness of those involved in social and political decision making,” she added.

Engaging the public in a cross-cutting collaboration

PEriTiA will bring together philosophers, social and natural scientists, policy experts, ethicists, psychologists, media specialists and civil society organisations to carry on a comprehensive multi-disciplinary research.

The collaboration will use innovative formats to conduct and disseminate its research including podcasts, citizens’ and experts’ fora across Europe and an essay competition addressed to young students.

In addition to ALLEA and UCD, the consortium consists of various partners from across Europe including University of Oslo (Norway), Institut Jean Nicod (France), Vita-Salute San Raffaele University (Italy), American University of Armenia (Armenia), Sense About Science (UK), King’s College London (UK), Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN), Utrecht University (The Netherlands) and Strane Innovation (France).