Openness is inherent to the success of modern science; the open sharing of ideas, theories, methods, data, and evidence forms the basis on which our agile and innovative global research system is built. Over the past decades, digitalisation has accelerated this process in at least three ways:
- It has removed the constraints resulting from the complexity and cost of traditional printing technologies; online publishing is not only far easier, cheaper and faster, it also allows the publication of much richer content (e.g. video, executable code, 3D models etc.).
- It offers the prospect of near universal access through the internet to the entire corpus of human knowledge.
- It allows us to move publication upstream in the research workflow and publish not just the final research summaries, but protocols, data sets, software tools and other intermediate and early-stage research outputs thereby improving the replicability and integrity of the research process.
In principle, technological development brings us closer to achieving the promise of universal and borderless science with improved reproducibility and a better documented evidence base. In addition, contemporary challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, require us to respond more rapidly and precisely to urgent policy questions through trans-disciplinary collaborative research. of the type that open research enables.
The road to universal and borderless science
The road to realise this ideal is, however, not an easy one. Efforts to reform processes and attitudes in our research culture require careful analysis, skilled advocacy and sustained leadership to overcome the natural inertia and conservatism of academia. Considerable investment in sustainable infrastructures and organisations to support it are needed to push systemic change and, as always, disruption of existing conventions and structures can be expected to provoke resistance from vested interests.
As a longstanding proponent of open science, ALLEA has accumulated decades of experience and expertise on fundamental aspects of open science such as legal and ethical considerations, data management in the humanities, and digital research infrastructures. We work together with our Member Academies to amplify their voice considering the role of Europe in this global debate. Jointly with them, we gather evidence and data, foster knowledge, and practices exchange, and formulate common positions in a coherent and timely manner through multiple initiatives.