Open Science

Open Science is “an inclusive construct that combines various 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 actors beyond the traditional scientific community.” (cf. UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science, p. 17).

Working in this field since 2014, EUA takes a comprehensive view of the transition to Open Science by gathering information on the current situation in Europe and building a forward-looking dialogue between universities and other main stakeholders. The Association is actively supporting universities in the transition to open science, in close collaboration with the EUA Expert Group on Open Science.

As laid out in the EUA Open Science Agenda 2025, the Association has three key priority areas in Open Science:

  • Universal and perpetual Open Access to scholarly outputs, in a just scholarly publishing ecosystem.
  • Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR) research data.
  • Institutional approaches to research assessment.

EUA regularly consults with its member universities through its Open Science surveys. Since 2014, they have been instrumental in monitoring the implementation of open science policies in universities in Europe and identifying emerging trends and developments in this field, including citizen science, digital sovereignty and open education. Over the years, more than 1400 respondents, from more than 700 individual universities in 39 countries have contributed with their experience, showing the rapid evolution and uptake of Open Science. However, much is still to be accomplished and EUA will continue to raise awareness on the topic and support universities in their efforts to implement open science policies and practices at institutional level.

This transition entails encompassing systemic, cultural and technical reforms. EUA is fully committed to Open Science as a shared responsibility, recognising that a successful transition will require a concerted effort from key stakeholders. The Association’s focus on Open Science is also seen in its extensive efforts in providing input to the EU’s research and innovation programmes. Furthermore, in the context of the new European Research Area, EUA is committed to contributing to relevant ERA Actions and the development of its different dimensions. These include Action 1 (EOSC), Action 2 (EU copyright and data legislative and regulatory framework), Action 3 (reform of research assessment), Action 4 (research careers), Action 8 (research infrastructures), Action 14 (citizen science) and Action 17 (research management).

Finally, EUA is committed to a global approach to a sustainable transition to Open Science. The Association has joined the UNESCO Global Open Science Partnership, with the purpose of working towards a global consensus on Open Science. EUA is also represented in all UNESCO Open Science Working Groups.

  • Open Access, scholarly communication and publishing

    Open Access (OA) is the practice of granting universal and perpetual open access to scholarly outputs (such as journal articles, books, datasets, protocols, algorithms and software source codes, etc.) to both producers and users, through a system in which there are no barriers to participation (particularly those based on the ability to pay, institutional privilege, language or geography). It also includes reuse through open licensing.

    EUA has become a leading voice in the debate on Open Access and has been actively engaged in this area since 2007. EUA advocates for a just scholarly publishing ecosystem that is transparent, diverse, economically affordable and sustainable, technically interoperable, and steered by the research community and its institutions through coordinated policies.

    The scholarly publishing world has evolved rapidly over the last few years. After a long period of advocacy and hard work by multiple stakeholders, the transition to OA is finally gaining momentum. At university level, significant progress has been made in developing and implementing institutional OA policies and practices. Increasingly, researchers are aware of the importance of OA and make their scholarly outputs openly available. National and EU research funders now also require the results of the research they fund to be published in an OA format. Despite the progress made to date, OA is not yet ubiquitous. In the transition to universal and perpetual OA, the complexity of the scholarly publication system and the costs involved in making scholarly outputs openly available for universities and other stakeholders is another key consideration.

    EUA is actively engaged with national and European developments impacting the transition towards Open Access. The Association works to reclaim academic ownership of scholarly communication and publishing and provides its support to initiatives that share this goal. In particular, EUA is a firm supporter of the Rights Retention Strategy, as proposed by cOAlition S.

    Finally, as a signatory to the Action Plan for Diamond Open Access, EUA is committed to the move towards a sustainable, community-driven Diamond scholarly communication ecosystem. EUA is also a partner of the “Developing Institutional OA Publishing Models to Advance Scholarly Communication” (DIAMAS) project, funded through Horizon Europe and aimed at delivering an aligned, high-quality and sustainable institutional open access scholarly publication ecosystem for the European Research Area.

  • EUA Group of Negotiators

    EUA works to achieve more transparency and greater sustainability in the scholarly publishing system together with its members. The Association created the EUA Group of Negotiators to offer a platform for Europe’s universities and their negotiators to share information about challenging publisher negotiations and empower university leaders and negotiating consortia to explore different OA routes and develop strong negotiation strategies. First set up in 2017, the EUA Group of Negotiators provide its members with a safe environment to share ideas, experiences and expectations on national and European developments.

    Since 2017, EUA has assembled comprehensive data on Big Deals between scholarly publishers and national consortia of libraries, universities and research organisations. The EUA Big Deals Survey contributes to increasing the transparency of contract costs and conditions, identifying the main challenges in the scholarly publication system and supporting a variety of institutions in becoming more knowledgeable and actively engaged in negotiations with scientific publishers. With the Read & Publish study, EUA has also started looking into alternative types of contracts between publishers and consortia and exploring future open access scenarios.

  • FAIR research data and EOSC

    The FAIR Data Principles offer a set of guidelines to ensure research outputs are Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable. They apply to data, protocols, algorithms and software that underlie publications or have future value and a potential for reuse. FAIR data is now part of the broader Open Science discussion, as it ensures that scientific results are available for sharing and reuse. However, FAIR does not mean “Open”; these two concepts are complementary, as publicly funded research data needs to be as open as possible and as closed as necessary.

    EUA is a strong advocate for the importance of sharing and reusing research data. Universities and researchers across Europe are increasingly expected to manage research data according to the FAIR principles, most notably through Horizon Europe. Universities are also actively developing the necessary services, policies, governance frameworks and skills for professional research data management.

    EUA is working to raise awareness about the need for a common framework for the new FAIR data handling and management careers. Defining new data professional job profiles will be a key step in supporting the emergence of a FAIR culture in universities. New career development paths will also have to consider data professionals’ diverse academic and professional backgrounds as well as how to improve their integration in institutional units and in the research infrastructures that provide universities with services and support.

    EUA is also closely monitoring the development and implementation of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC)and the activities of its Association (EOSC-A). EOSC is a European Partnership aiming to federate services for sharing, storage, management, analysis and re-use of research outputs. Universities have a key role to play in achieving the EOSC objectives and ambitions, by federating their research data infrastructure to the new European environment and by giving researchers the skills needed to onboard its services. To overcome challenges to the universities’ participation in EOSC, EUA is committed to supporting the active engagement of its members with EOSC, through activities that facilitate the exchange of information and the sharing of experiences on topics and opportunities related to EOSC and the EOSC-A. In October 2021, the EUA Platform for EOSC-A was launched to facilitate the exchange of information and the sharing of experiences across EUA members in the EOSC-A.

    In 2020, EUA co-chaired the EOSC Working Group on Skills & Training and contributed to the resulting report. Furthermore, the Association is an observer of the EOSC Association and is represented in the EOSC-A Task Force on Research careers, recognition and credit.

  • Research assessment and academic career assessment

    Research assessment is the combination of qualitative and quantitative practices used to evaluate the quality and impact of research activities. Institutional assessment approaches are typically used to make decisions regarding hiring, career progression and funding allocation. As such, research assessment practices are also part of academic assessment, which is a more holistic approach that promotes parity of esteem between all academic activities in service to society, including research, innovation and teaching.

    EUA works to improve the institutional capacity, autonomy and equity of opportunity of its members to develop and implement more responsible, inclusive, transparent and sustainable evaluation practices for research activities and careers, including incentives and rewards for Open Science throughout the research process. EUA builds and sustains a dialogue between universities and with other actors, by organising workshops, webinars and other opportunities for exchange. The Association believes that improving academic career assessment is a shared responsibility and requires a comprehensive approach uniting diverse stakeholders.  Therefore, it works together with universities, other research performing organisations, research funding organisations, learned society and policy makers.

    Research assessment reform is a strategic objective for EUA as part of the broader reform of academic careers - one of the priorities for action outlined in Universities without walls. 2022 saw a major milestone in achieving this, as the Association was at heart of a major new initiative to advance crucial reforms to ensure better assessment of research, researchers and research organisations.

    Alongside Science Europe, and with the vital support of the European Commission, EUA led the drafting of the Agreement on Reforming Research Assessment, co-organising four Stakeholder Assembly meetings in the process. Following this intensive, community-driven co-creation process, the final agreement was published on 20 July 2022.

    EUA itself signed the Agreement on Reforming Research Assessment and joined the ensuing Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment (CoARA), following the unanimous approval of the EUA Council in October 2022. The Constitutive Assembly of the CoARA took place the following 1 December, marking the beginning of a new chapter for the broad, growing coalition of diverse research stakeholders which it represents. This meeting saw significant engagement from European universities, and EUA Vice-President Paul Boyle was elected to CoARA’s inaugural Steering Board.


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