UNESCO on Open Science

Information Community News

Announced by UNESCO on November 26, the first international framework on open science was adopted by 193 countries attending UNESCO’s General Conference. The aim of the recommendation is “to provide an international framework for open science policy and practice that recognizes disciplinary and regional differences in open science perspectives, takes into account academic freedom, gender transformative approaches and the specific challenges of scientists and other open science actors” in different (and most particularly) developing countries, thereby reducing existing divides.   

The framework defines its elements and terminologies, beginning with the concept of open science. That is defined as encompassing “movements and practices aiming to  make  multilingual  scientific  knowledge  openly  available,  accessible  and reusable  for  everyone,  to  increase  scientific  collaborations  and  sharing  of information for the benefits of science and society, and to open the processes of scientific knowledge creation, evaluation and communication to societal factors beyond the traditional scientific community.”

In addition to covering traditional scientific publications, the recommendation specifically references and applies to: 

  • open scientific knowledge
  • open research data
  • open educational resources
  • open source software and code
  • open hardware
  • open science infrastructure

Key objectives and areas of proposed action are as follows:

  • promoting  a  common  understanding  of  open  science,  associated benefits and challenges, as well as diverse paths to open science;
  • developing an enabling policy environment for open science;
  • investing in open science infrastructures and services;
  • investing  in  human  resources,  training,  education,  digital  literacy and capacity building for open science;
  • fostering a culture of open science and aligning incentives for open science;
  • promoting  innovative  approaches  for  open  science  at  different stages of the scientific process; 
  • promoting   international   and   multi-stakeholder   cooperation   in  the  context  of  open  science  and  with  view  to  reducing  digital, technological and knowledge gaps.

The UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science seeks to promote equality among scientists, particularly in the midst of the current pandemic, so that populations and policy-makers will reap the benefits of advances in science. 

Groups such as SPARC, STM (the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers) and IARLA (International Alliance of Research Library Associations) issued statements of support for the UNESCO work. 

The full text of the UNESCO announcement may be found here with additional details available at:  https://www.unesco.org/en/natural-sciences/open-science.