copy the linklink copied!3. Current policies in favour of enhanced access to data in OECD member countries and partner economies

Abstract

This chapter presents an overview of current policies promoting enhanced access to data in OECD member countries and partner economies. It is based on the responses a survey implemented by the Committee for Science and Technology Policy of the OECD in 2017, the responses to the 2017 edition of the European Commission-OECD science, technology and innovation policy survey, as well as the case studies contributed by 18 countries during 2018.

    

copy the linklink copied!Overview of policy initiatives promoting enhanced access to data and open science

At the national level, the 2017 European Commission (EC)-OECD science, technology and innovation (STI) policy survey (EC/OECD, 2018) asked OECD member countries and partner economies to provide information about policy initiatives supporting open science and open access. The 181 policy initiatives cited cover the following areas (Box 3.1):

  • support for research infrastructure

  • national policies and strategies in favour of open access to data (often linked to broader open-science strategies or open-government initiatives)

  • creation of governance bodies to foster open access

  • network and collaborative initiatives aiming to facilitate open access to data.

In the OECD-CSTP survey on access-to-data policies conducted in 2017, respondents from 27 countries listed a total of 171 policy initiatives. Roughly one-half of the initiatives concerned public research in general; one in six initiatives concerned a specific sector; and one-third were broader initiatives concerning public-sector information (PSI), including data from public research (Figure 3.1). Roughly one-half of the initiatives concern policy documents (including strategies) and legal measures.

To deepen the understanding of policy practice in the domain of enhanced access to data for STI, the OECD-CSTP contributed specific case studies of policies, sharing experiences and providing transferable learnings.

The case studies (OECD, 2018) cover a broad spectrum of initiatives, ranging from infrastructures and portals to national strategies. The approaches are diverse, with a mix of top-down and bottom-up initiatives (Table 3.1).

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Figure 3.1. Scope of policy initiatives reported in the survey
Figure 3.1. Scope of policy initiatives reported in the survey

Note: PSI = public-sector information; STI = science, technology and innovation.

Source: Answers from OECD member countries and partner economies.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934112595

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Box 3.1. Instruments concerning data access from the 2017 EC/OECD STI policy survey
  • The 74 reported initiatives (42%) supporting research infrastructures include portals offering open access to publications, repositories and archives for scientific data, search engines, virtual networks and clouds connecting individual physical repositories. Examples include the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) and the Research Data Infrastructure for Open Science in Japan. In some cases (Australia, Estonia, Finland), open-data infrastructure is treated within a national strategy on research infrastructures.

  • The 58 reported initiatives (34%) concerning national strategies and policies for open access to data and publications include:

    • Dedicated strategies and policies for open access to data and publications both at the policy-making level (Czech Republic, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia and United Kingdom) and at the funding-agency level (Australia, Austria, Belgium-Federal, Canada, Lithuania, Nordic Council of Ministers, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland and United Kingdom); and a specific Memorandum in the United States from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) instructing government funding agencies to increase access to data.

    • Open-data access within open-science policies (Chile, Colombia, Cyprus,1 Denmark, Estonia and the Netherlands); the Open Innovation Strategy (Austria); the National Innovation and Science agenda (Australia); respective amendments in the Law on Scientific Activity are in progress (Latvia); and a specific Law 310/2014 for Public Research, which focuses on co-operation between business and academia (Greece).

    • In France, a specific “Law for a Digital Republic”, followed by a National Plan for Open Science in France, promoting open access to scientific publications, optimal use and reuse of research data, and adapting evaluation and reward systems to bring them into line with the objectives of open science.

    • Open-data access, integrated within open-government and PSI initiatives (Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Sweden and United States).

    • Open access addressed within the law on official statistics (Norway).

    • Bottom-up approaches through institutions and projects (Centre national de la recherche scientifique and Institut national de la recherche agronomique in France; Infrastructures and Standards for Open Science in Spain; the University of Malta; universities in Slovenia; and the Concordat on Open Research Data in the United Kingdom).

  • The reported 12 initiatives (7%) aiming to create or reform a governance body to foster open access include:

    • Etalab, a high-level, pan-governmental open-data platform in France that co-ordinates open-data and open-government initiatives, and is chaired by the national chief data officer, reporting to the Prime Minister of France

    • a national focal point (chief science advisor Canada, national chief data officer in France, point of reference in Slovenia) for access to and preservation of scientific data

    • an agency for information systems used in higher education and research (CERES – National Centre for Systems and Services for Research and Studies, Norway)

    • the Data Archiving and Network Services Institute, which facilitates data archiving and reuse, and provides training and consultancy (the Netherlands)

    • open-data institutes (Canada and the United Kingdom) supporting economic, environmental and social-value creation opportunities arising from open data.

  • The 10 reported initiatives (4%) reported concerning networking and collaborative platforms to facilitate open access to data include:

    • OpenAIRE Advance, a network of repositories with 34 national open-science desks promoting open science as the default solution in Europe

    • library networks (HEAL Link in Greece, HAL and Persée in France)

    • open Access publishing platforms (J-Stage in Japan, OpenEdition in France)

    • the Datacite consortium, which enables researchers to attach a digital object identifier to research data

    • a data-analytics initiative linking disparate government datasets (Data61 in Australia)

    • co-operatives of research, educational and medical institutions (e.g. the Collaborative Organisation for ICT in Dutch Education and Research [SURF] co-operative in the Netherlands), aiming to promote innovation in information technology

    • a commercialisation marketplace (Open Data Exchange in Canada)

      Support for digital facilities for the French research community (DORANIUM and Cat OPIDoR).

  • The 5 initiatives (3%) undertaken based on formal consultations of stakeholder groups, including expert groups, include:

    • working groups and committees for open science and open access to scientific data (e.g. the European Commission Directorate-General for Research, Technology and Innovation; and initiatives in France, Greece, Ireland, Japan, Slovenia, Turkey and the United Kingdom)

    • an open-data forum advocating the development of open-data policies (United Kingdom).

1. Note by Turkey

The information in this document with reference to “Cyprus” relates to the southern part of the Island. There is no single authority representing both Turkish and Greek Cypriot people on the Island. Turkey recognises the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Until a lasting and equitable solution is found within the context of the United Nations, Turkey shall preserve its position concerning the “Cyprus issue”.

Note by all the European Union Member States of the OECD and the European Union

The Republic of Cyprus is recognised by all members of the United Nations with the exception of Turkey. The information in this document relates to the area under the effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus.

Source: EC/OECD (2018), STIP Compass, https://stip.oecd.org/stip.html.

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Table 3.1. Overview of initiatives covered by the case studies

Top-down, driven by government or funding agencies

Bottom-up, driven by institutions

National strategies

  • Korean Strategy to Promote Sharing and Use of Research Data for Innovative Growth

  • Norwegian National strategy on access to and sharing of research data

  • Finnish Open Science and Research Initiative (ATT)

  • Spanish law on STI

 

Governance arrangements

  • National chief data officer (France)

  • Infrastructures for Register-based Research (a government commission to the Swedish Research Council [SRC])

 

Policies

  • Slovenian National policy and Action plan of implementing of the national policy for open access

  • UK Concordat on Open Research Data

  • Netherlands National Plan Open Science

Regulations

  • EU Horizon 2020 (H2020) Open Research Data Pilot and Data Management Plan

  • Data Management Plan Belgium Consortium

Infrastructure and portals

  • Argentine Science and Technology Information Portal

  • Canada Open Government Portal

  • German National Research Data Infrastructure (NRDI)

  • Mexican Open Science Policy – Open Repositories Programme

  • Colombian Biodiversity Information System (SiB Colombia)

  • DataFirst Open African Research Data Repository

Source: Case studies provided by OECD member countries and partner economies.

copy the linklink copied!Motivation for policy initiatives promoting enhanced access to data for STI

Following up on initiatives to provide open access to publications, in which most countries have made significant progress, the focus is now shifting to enhancing access to data through open-data arrangements, which is generally less developed. Although more than 92% of universities in Europe have open-access policies for publications, or plan to do have them in the near future, less than 28% had guidelines in place for open access to data. The main institutional barriers to promoting research-data management and/or open access to research data are: different “scientific cultures” within the university; the absence of national guidelines or policies; limited awareness of benefits; legal concerns; and technical complexity (Morais and Borrell-Damian, 2018).

An EC survey found that by 2016, only 8 out of 31 European countries surveyed had adopted a national policy or strategy encouraging or mandating open access to research data; of these, only 1 has actually been implemented. A further 14 countries are discussing such a strategy or policy, and another nine countries are not considering such policies (European Commission, 2018a). The same study concludes that funders in a majority of countries (17 out of 31) are now including data-management plans as a requirement, or even as evaluation criteria for applicants.

Analytically speaking, and as discussed in Chapter 1, there exist several rationales in favour of enhanced access to data for STI. These include: i) exploiting opportunities to create new scientific insights; ii) promoting innovation and economic growth; iii) enhancing social welfare for individuals and society at large; iv) enhancing the reproducibility of scientific results; v) supporting meta-analyses; vi) facilitating education; vii) avoiding duplication of research; and viii) improving governance.

In practice, the motivations vary according to the specific context and international influences.

The Korean, Norwegian, and Slovenian cases describe national strategies on access to and sharing of research data. In Norway, the strategy reinforced previous policy principles that were “open by default” for publicly funded research – particularly research financed by the Research Council of Norway – driven by the finding that the quantity of data available was below expectations for an “open by default” setting. Moreover, reuse of said data did not follow best practices (Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, 2018). In Slovenia, the goal is even more ambitious, and involves suppression of subscription and copyright limitations for access to and reuse of scientific information.1 The Slovenian policy invokes the implementation of the Hague Declaration on Knowledge Discovery in the Digital Age (Tramte, 2018).

In Korea, the prime motivation of the Strategy to Promote Sharing and Use of Research Data for Innovative Growth is also to enhance access, with the expectation of a strong increase in demand for research data that should feed data-driven innovation and enhance national competitiveness (Shin, 2018). To promote sharing and use of research data, the strategy proposes to achieve at least five policy aims over the next five years: i) support the establishment of a research-data centre in each field of research and help it grow within the research community; ii) establish a national research-data platform connecting field-oriented data centres to one another; iii) provide education and training for data scientists/engineers to enhance their data skills and expertise; iv) develop a legal basis for sharing and use of research data, and adoption of data-management plans; and v) promote innovation and commercialisation activities inspired from shared research data (Steering Committee of the National Science and Technology Council, 2018). Since 2016, research outputs published in scientific journals resulting from research funded by more than 50% of public funds can be provided by their author as open access, following an embargo period ranging from 6 to 12 months –an exclusivity period granted to the author in order to be able to be the first to publish results based on the date she collected. In any case, the publisher must let the data published within these articles freely reusable after their publication. Such data also must be freely accessible for text and data mining (TDM).

France addresses access to research data in a broader context of “public and research data”. The objective is to bring the data infrastructure to a state where it provides the public with effortless access to updated and reliable data. The aim is to render the inner works “invisible” to the public, similarly to the provision of electricity and fresh water. Publication of government and other public entities’ data is mandatory. Opening of data also becomes mandatory for private data that considered of public interest under French law, e.g. data concerning the provision of public services such as energy and water, real-estate transactions or waste recycling (French Ministry of Economy, Industry and the Digital Sector, 2015). In order to abolish nontariff barriers to access (such as technical, legal, cultural or awareness issues), France has introduced the position of national chief data officer, who can also rely on the “Etalab” structure, to carry out his missions of co-ordinating government efforts to facilitate the provision, governance, production, circulation and reuse of government data, including research data (French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation , 2018).

Many of the initiatives reported relate to open science; this is a strong systemic tendency in science and technology policies of an increasing number of countries, including Finland, the Netherlands, France, Mexico and the European Union. The Netherlands and Finland contributed case studies describing their national plan for open science. France described the national chief data officer, who helps operationalise open government and open science. The European Union (European Commission, 2018a) and Mexico (CONACYT, 2018) presented specific initiatives supporting open-science policies. One of the pillars of open science is open access to data (and the e-infrastructures that enable it), alongside open research agenda-setting, open funding mechanisms, open access to publications, citizen science, open research infrastructures, open peer review and other open-science tools.

Finland was one of the pioneers of this movement, setting up a Finnish Research Data Initiative to advance open access to research publications, open access to research data and open research methods. The importance of these focus areas was confirmed in the opinions gathered from major stakeholders. In 2014, building on the previous projects, the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture launched its latest and most holistic initiative, the Open Science and Research Initiative (ATT) (Haapamaki, 2018). Its aim was to incorporate open science and research in the full research process, in order to improve the visibility and impact of science and research in the innovation system and society at large. To guide the Finnish research system towards higher competitiveness and quality, the ATT advocates promoting a transparent, collaborative and inspirational research process, with measures that foster open publications, open research data, and open research methods and tools, as well as increasing skills and improving knowledge and support services in the open-science domain.

Motivation for open science itself can be found within the Amsterdam call for open science (Dutch Presidency of the Council of the European Union, 2016) – it includes increased openness, rapid, convenient and high-quality scientific communication between researchers and society at large, fostering better response to societal challenges, and providing business opportunities through the development of innovative products and services (Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, 2018).

The European Commission gives the following rationale for its H 2020 Open Research Data Pilot: “Making research data available benefits science by increasing the (re-)use of data and by improving transparency and accountability. Access to research data increases returns from public investment, reinforces open scientific inquiry, and enhances the quality and efficiency of scientific research and innovation, thus providing better business opportunity.” It further underlines that opening up research data has the potential not only to improve scientific research and involve society, but also to contribute significantly to economic growth (through open innovation) (European Commission, 2018a).

These benefits concern notably innovative start-ups, e.g. in the context of the “app economy”, as well as the use of data in the context of the reindustrialisation of Europe (“Industry 4.0”). Two key agendas, Open Science, Open Innovation, and Open to the world (European Commission, 2016a) and Digital Single Market support this vision through several strategic initiatives outlined in the EC Communication, “A European Cloud Initiative – Building a competitive data and knowledge economy in Europe” (European Commission, 2016b). The Open Science Agenda defines the open-access ambitions as follows: i) by 2020, all peer-reviewed scientific publications are freely accessible; and ii) by 2020, Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR) data sharing is the default for scientific research.

The UK Concordat (UK Research and Innovation, 2016) has similar motivations: “The benefits from opening up research data for scrutiny and reuse are potentially very significant; including economic growth, increased resource efficiency, securing public support for research funding and increasing public trust in research. However, the Concordat recognises that access may need to be managed in order to maintain confidentiality, protect individuals’ privacy, respect consent terms, as well as managing security or other risks.” The Concordat’s stated objective is to “ensure that the research data gathered and generated by members of the UK research community is made openly available for use by others wherever possible in a manner consistent with relevant legal, ethical, disciplinary and regulatory frameworks and norms, and with due regard to the costs involved” (Bruce, 2018).

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Box 3.2. United States federal data strategy

The United States is developing a federal data strategy to provide a co-ordinated and integrated approach to using data to deliver on mission, serve the public and steward resources, while respecting privacy and confidentiality. The strategy incorporates four areas of exploration:

  • Enterprise-data governance. This area refers to setting priorities for managing government data as a strategic asset, including establishing data policies; specifying roles and responsibilities for data privacy, security, and confidentiality protection; and monitoring compliance with standards and policies throughout the information lifecycle.

  • Access, use and augmentation. This section is concerned with developing policies and procedures that enable stakeholders to effectively and efficiently access and use data assets. The strategy aims to increase these features by: i) making data available more quickly and in more useful formats; ii) maximising the amount of non-sensitive data shared with the public; and iii) leveraging new technologies and best practices to increase access to sensitive or restricted data, while protecting privacy, security and confidentiality, as well as the interests of data providers.

  • Decision-making and accountability. This refers to improving the use of data assets by the federal government for decision-making and accountability, including both internal and external uses. This includes: i) providing high-quality and timely information to inform evidence-based decision-making and learning; ii) facilitating external research on the effectiveness of government programmes and policies that will inform future policy making; and iii) fostering public accountability and transparency by providing accurate and timely spending information, performance metrics and other administrative data.

  • Commercialisation, innovation and public use. The final section relates to facilitating the use of federal government data assets by external stakeholders at the forefront of making government data accessible and useful through commercial ventures, innovation, or other public uses. This includes use by the private sector, scientific and research communities, and state and local governments for public-policy purposes, as well as for education and enabling civic engagement. Enabling external users to access and use government data for commercial and other public purposes spurs innovative technological solutions, and fills gaps in government capacity and knowledge. Supporting the production and dissemination of comprehensive, accurate and objective statistics on the state of the nation helps businesses and markets operate more efficiently.

Source: US Government (2019), “Public access to Federally funded research in the United States”, https://community.oecd.org/servlet/JiveServlet/downloadBody/149047-102-1-263336/USA%20ANNEX%20to%20ENHANCED%20ACCESS%20TO%20PUBLICLY%20FUNDED%20DATA%20FOR%20SCIENCE_Final4secretariat.pdf.

Although the United States has not adopted the open-science framework, it recognises that openly accessible data contribute to scientific progress, catalyse innovation, and further international co-operation in science and technology to address global challenges (US Government, 2019). The broad availability of scientific information and underlying data allow for the critical review, replication and verification of findings that are central to the scientific method. Additionally, facilitating the free flow of information that underpins federal agency decision-making and advances in regulatory science – to the extent permitted by law – enables the public, the United States Congress, the media and industry to better understand the scientific basis for US federal regulatory decision-making. As part of this, the United States is developing a federal data strategy (Box 3.2.).

In Spain, the main motivation for including open access in the 2011 Law on STI was to comply with the relevant EU directives and to reinforce the position of the 42 open access institutional repositories that existed at that moment. However, the law did not explicitly mention data and was implicitly targeting publications. In a recent development, Spain wants to include research data in open-access policies and design a national strategy for open science. Since June 2018, the Spanish government agency FECYT has been undertaking the Infrastructures and Standards for Open Science pilot project with three public research organisations and their dedicated repositories (FECYT, 2019).

A specific issue relates to providing access to sensitive datasets. As noted in Chapter 1, enhanced access to data can be staged to different degrees, according to the community of stakeholders involved. The more sensitive the data, the more difficult it will be to open them to the general public, taking the risk of privacy breaches and malevolent uses. Therefore, different degrees of openness may include: i) open access with open licence; ii) public access with a specific licence that limits use: iii) group-based access through authentication; and iv) named access explicitly assigned by contract (OECD, 2019).

One example of such controlled access is the Secure Research Service provided by the United Kingdom’s Office of National Statistics, which provides access to sensitive datasets to certified researchers (Office of National Statistics UK, n.d.). The French Law for a Digital Republic also foresees safe access to confidential data for approved researchers (French Ministry of Economy, Industry and the Digital Sector, 2015). Sweden has launched an initiative called “Infrastructures for Register-based Research” to address one of the most challenging issues – providing cross-disciplinary access to register data, which cover government registers, clinical-quality registers, biobanks and sample collections, and research databases (Eriksson and Nilsson, 2018). South Africa also reports a Secure Research Data Centre (based on the UK experience), comprising a “safe room” at the University of Cape Town (UCT) where disaggregated public data can be analysed by vetted researchers for purposes of cutting-edge research (Woolfrey, 2018).

Belgium has a specific initiative to support data-management planning. In a country that has yet to develop a holistic approach to enhanced access to data, such a pragmatic initiative facilitates compliance with EU regulations, particularly the data-management planning requirement for H 2020 projects (Laureys, 2018).

The Argentine, Canadian, Colombian, Mexican and South African case studies describe specific infrastructures, such as the Argentine Science and Technology Information Portal (Luchilo, D’Onofrio and Tignino, 2018), the Canadian Open Government Portal (Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, Open Government Team, 2018), the Colombian Biodiversity Information System (Escobar, Hernández and Agudelo, 2018) and the Mexican Open Institutional Repositories Programme. Their motivation follows more general policies and legal frameworks.

In Argentina, the portal was a logical consequence of a comprehensive normative context consisting of several decrees and laws, notably Law 27.275 on Access to Public Information and the corresponding Decree 117/16 on the creation of Data Opening Plan, and Law 25.467 on the Creation of Digital Repositories (Luchilo, D’Onofrio and Tignino, 2018).

In Canada, the Open Government Portal was established following public consultations on the digital-economy strategy and open government, which identified the need to make open data available in more usable and accessible formats. The motivation for establishing the portal in 2011 was to provide a single access point for using and sharing structured, machine-readable data and information from across the government, under an open and unrestrictive licence (Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, Open Government Team, 2018).

The Colombian Biodiversity Information System (SiB Colombia) was developed to fulfil the country’s obligation under the Convention on Biological Diversity, as part of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (better known as the “Rio Earth Summit”). This national infrastructure was established in early 2000 to facilitate free and open access to biodiversity data (Escobar, Hernández and Agudelo, 2018).

Mexico created its Open Institutional Repositories programme as part of the implementation of its national open-science policy (CONACYT, 2018).

In South Africa, DataFirst was primarily created as a full-service repository to actively promote long-term preservation, sharing and analysis of data from publicly funded research. The university-based repository was created on the premise that: i) proximity to researchers keeps the repository responsive to research-data needs; ii) such a service is seen as independent, largely free from political influence and not susceptible to funding changes as political regimes change; and iii) such a repository can draw on universities’ skill base, such as a constant supply of student interns to work on data cleaning. This is an important requirement in the skill-constrained environments of lower and middle-income countries: a university base can ensure that data repositories are able to maintain a high level of service in the long term (Woolfrey, 2018).

Germany’s National Research Data Infrastructure was motivated by the need to ensure better co-ordination of research-data management in the country. The National Research Data Infrastructure was established as an agreement between the federal government and the federal states (Länder) to: develop a co-ordinated, networked information infrastructure for the development of sustainable interoperable research-data management; establish accepted processes and procedures to standardise handling of research data in the scientific disciplines; create a reliable and sustainable range of services covering the overarching and subject-specific needs of research-data management in Germany; develop cross-disciplinary metadata standards for the comprehensive (re)usability of research data; connect German research-data infrastructures to European and international platforms; optimise the reusability of research data already collected, as well as the infrastructures in which they are embedded, thereby generating additional knowledge without the high costs of new data collection; and create a common basis for data protection and data sovereignty, integrity, security and quality (Philipps and Bodmann, 2018).

copy the linklink copied!Initiation of policy initiatives and process

As shown in Table 3.1, the case studies cover a variety of approaches. The majority of initiatives (12 out of 17) are driven from the top (by ministries or funding agencies); four initiatives are driven by research consortia and/or higher education institutions.

Whatever the approach, achieving consensus on sharing research data is a challenging task. The top-down initiatives are far from command-and-control arrangements: stakeholder participation and consultation also play a large role. The following sections present those experiences.

Top-down initiatives driven by government and funding agencies

This group of top-down initiatives presents considerable variety. For one, they are initiated at different levels, beginning with the prime minister (in France), followed by the Ministry of Science and Technology or equivalent (in Argentina, European Union, Finland, Germany,2 Korea, Norway, Slovenia, Spain)3 and finally the funding-agency level (in Mexico and Sweden).4

The governance mode also varies considerably:

  • France presented an initiative on the governance of open access to government data (including research data). This novel concept of National Chief Data Officer (NCDO) has a central role as a champion and co-ordination point for open data (French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, 2018).

  • In Germany, the Joint Science Conference of the federal states (Länder) (German federal government and German Bundesländer, 2018) and the federal government of Germany prepared an agreement signed by the federal government and the Länder establishing the National Research Data Infrastructure (Philipps and Bodmann, 2018).

  • In Korea and Slovenia, the initiatives, although driven by the corresponding ministry, include active stakeholder participation throughout the process in dedicated working groups used for consensus-building about the policies. In Korea, a task force was set up to develop the national strategy, including range of stakeholders such as researchers and data scientists from universities and government research institutes, private-sector managers, policy experts and lawyers, organised into six working groups (Shin, 2018); in Slovenia beneficiaries of the national public-research funding were invited to participate in public consultation on the draft national open access strategy, and received 24 written comments (Tramte, 2018). Likewise, the Argentine science and technology information portal initiative has undertaken a phase of political consultations with key stakeholders to achieve consensus early in the process (Luchilo, D’Onofrio and Tignino, 2018).

  • In the European Union, a broad stakeholder consultation preceded and was used as essential input for the initiative (European Commission, 2018a).

  • Norway drafted its strategy based on analytical expert work within an interministerial working group; research stakeholders were not directly involved in the process (Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, 2018).

  • Mexico presents a three-level governance approach: the federal law, general guidelines and technical guidelines. Specific institutions are responsible for each level: the Congress of the Union is the only institution capable of modifying the federal law; the internal governance entities of the National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT) can modify the second and third-level documents. Stakeholder input is only solicited for the second and third levels (CONACYT, 2018).

The following section synthesises the individual governance and process arrangements in the 12 country cases.

France: NCDO

The French initiative (French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, 2018) has been set at the highest level, whereby the NCDO reports to the secretary of state for digital society within the prime minister’s office. The mandate of the NCDO includes:

  • co-ordinating the production, storage, diffusion and (re)use of data by the government administration

  • organising and ensuring the wider diffusion of data (re)use, particularly for the purpose of public-policy evaluation, improvement and transparency of public action, and stimulation of research and innovation, while ensuring the protection of personal data and secrets safeguarded by the law

  • proposing new policies to the prime minister, including, where appropriate, legislative or regulatory developments.

In consultation with the concerned administrations, the NCDO:

  • proposes to the prime minister strategies (which may also involve innovative companies) for (re)use of the data produced, received or collected by the administrations as part of their public-service missions

  • develops tools, benchmarks and methodologies for better data (re)use and greater use of data science within the government

  • recommends technical solutions to increase the interoperability of information systems and data, including semantic data modelling

  • conducts experiments on the use of data to enhance the effectiveness of public policies, contribute to the sound management of public funds and improve the quality of services provided to users.

The NCDO may also be questioned by any person regarding the flow of data.

In parallel, France is developing an open-science ecosystem as part of the Open Government Partnership roadmap. A key element is the establishment of an open-science committee, whose mandate will be to co-ordinate and support the transition towards open science in France. The committee will comprise four colleges: i) college for publications; ii) college for research data; iii) college for skill and training; and iv) college Europe and international. The committee’s membership strives to achieve broad representativeness across research institutions and disciplines, including data science (BSN, 2018). Other elements of the planned ecosystem include specific operational items, such as the introduction of mandatory data-management plans, further development of the Scan search engine, development of “data papers” and monitoring schemes (Etalab, 2018).

Finland: Open Science and Research Initiative

Prior to the launch of the ATT, a working group on openness of research data was appointed to carry out preparatory work and identify major focus areas – including open data, which had already been highlighted in an earlier government strategy document. Meanwhile, the open-science movement was gaining ground internationally, and open science was a focus area in the recommendations of the European Commission and OECD. The working group worked on the themes for the Open Science Initiative against this background (Haapamaki, 2018).

The ATT initiative was launched by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture. It included a strategy group, chaired by the director in charge of science policy and comprising high-level representatives from universities, universities of applied sciences, research institutes, other ministries and funding bodies; and an expert group under the aegis of the strategy group, chaired by the secretary general of the initiative. A forum open to all interested parties convened annually to discuss current topics. More focused thematic roundtable discussions were also held within more targeted groups. All major stakeholders from the higher education and research sectors, as well as scientific publishing, were involved in the process.

The central point in the governance structure involved ensuring, on the one hand, stakeholder representativeness and on the other hand, flexibility to adapt to the changing nature of the open-access phenomenon. As a major funder, the Ministry of Education and Culture had the final say in decision-making.

Korea: Strategy to promote sharing and use of research data for innovative growth

The Korean strategy was initiated under the auspices of the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT). A task force was created, comprising an overarching team and five specialised subgroups. A broad range of stakeholders participated, including MSIT personnel, researchers and data scientists from higher education and public research organisations, private-sector managers, policy experts and lawyers. Following 26 meetings of the task force and a public hearing, the strategy was finalised and submitted to the National Science and Technology Council, a high-level interministerial co-ordination committee charged with developing a comprehensive national plan on STI and making adjustments to the research and development (R&D) programmes and budgets proposed by each ministry (Shin, 2018).

The implementation of the strategy is governed by the MSIT through the development and implementation of action plans. The National Research Foundation will develop its own policies in line with the strategy, and the National Research Council of Science and Technology5 is also developing guidelines to assist government research institutes with managing their research data. The implementation began with pilot projects by government research centres that adopted data-sharing systems years ago and have created meaningful research outcomes. The pilot projects strive to improve existing mainstream data-sharing initiatives, specifically through: i) improving cloud analytics for genome data; ii) promoting the use of artificial intelligence (AI) on chemical-library data for new-drug discovery; iii) data sharing and research collaboration through setting up a web-based data platform on thermo-electronic materials and developing machine learning analytics; (iv) establishing data-sharing systems (R&D data bank) in the field of catalyst research; v) research-data retrieval at large research facilities with high-performance computing systems for research in integrative structural biology; and vi) expanding the scope of the research data collected and collaborating with government research institutes that produce useful data for AI development.

Norway: National strategy on access to and sharing of research data

Norway’s strategy process was initiated and led by the Ministry of Education and Research, based on the 2016 white paper “Digital Agenda for Norway” (Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation, 2016), which presented the government’s intention to develop strategies aiming to increase the accessibility of public data in five areas: culture, geodata, public expenditure, transport and research. It was also based on several international reports relevant to access to research data, as well as a survey of current practice in Norway led by the Research Council of Norway (DAMVAD Analytics A/S, 2014). An interministerial working group involving representatives of six other ministries oversaw the work. The implementation of the strategy will proceed through specific action plans for government and relevant agencies. Public research institutions will also be expected to: develop procedures for approving or deciding on their research projects’ data-management plans; improve employees’ skills (including researchers, data stewards and administrators); co-ordinate the development of new educational programmes; and encourage institutions and researchers to help develop relevant standards (Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, 2018).

Slovenia: Research Data Management and Openness in Slovenia

The flagship policy initiative Research Data Management and Openness in Slovenia is led by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport; its content is supported by Slovenian open-access experts (Tramte, 2018).

Drafting of the new Research and Development Activity Act began in 2015 within a working group comprising ministry staff and relevant stakeholders (i.e. beneficiaries of national public-research funding). Time was needed to achieve consensus among stakeholders, and the final public consultation took place in 2018. Basic regulatory-impact analysis was applied in the process and is part of the document to be submitted to both the Government and the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia.

The national pilot programme Open Access to Research Data is included in the National Strategy of Open Access to Scientific Publications and Research Data in Slovenia 2015-2020. Given the very modest Slovenian experience with open access to research data, the pilot programme was based on OECD and EC recommendations and international experience. Its results will be used to design the policy on open research data for the next period (after 2020).

The provisions of both the new Research and Development Activity Act and the pilot programme will be implemented primarily by the Slovenian Research Agency, Slovenia’s main research-funding organisation.

Spain: Open-access dissemination in the Spanish Law on STI (Article 37)

The Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities drafted the Law on STI in 2011 – notably Article 37, which prescribes open-access dissemination of scientific results. However, due to difficulties in its implementation, the government agency FECYT created a working group comprising national experts and representatives of institutions possessing their own open-access strategy to put forward a set of recommendations for the implementation of Article 37. This practical guide includes specific recommendations for R&D public funding agencies, universities and research centres, researchers and institutional subscribers to scientific journals. Among those recommendations was the creation of a monitoring commission for the implementation of Article 37 on open-access dissemination.

In a recent development, the State Plan for Research, Development and Innovation 2017-2020 (Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness, 2017) features important advances on open access to scientific publications and research data. Moreover, since June 2018, FECYT has been implementing the Infrastructures and Standards for Open Science pilot project, in collaboration with three public research organisations. The main goal is to promote the national infrastructures and the standards for information exchange needed to optimise the implementation of open-access policies; include research data in open-access policies; and help the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities in the designing of a national strategy for open science.

Germany: National Research Data Infrastructure

The National Research Data Infrastructure is supposed to systematically develop a comprehensive research-data management system, including standardised data management according to FAIR principles. It aims to sustainably secure and utilise research data, as a digital, regionally distributed and networked knowledge repository (Philipps and Bodmann, 2018).

It is an emerging initiative, established by an agreement between the federal government and the Länder in November 2018, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Länder (German federal government and German Bundesländer, 2018): the Joint Science Conference, which makes all fundamental financial decisions regarding the National Research Data Infrastructure, and also decides on its legal form and organisational set-up.

The National Research Data Infrastructure organisational structure consists of consortia, a consortium assembly, a scientific senate and a directorate.

Consortia will be composed of several existing institutions, which may include state and state-recognised universities, non-university research institutions, non-university research institutions, academies and other publicly funded information-related infrastructure facilities.

The consortium assembly shall consist of the elected spokespersons of each consortium. It determines the content-related and technical principles for the overall work of the consortia.

The scientific senate is the strategic body responsible for the overall strategic orientation of the National Research Data Infrastructure. It decides on standards across the consortia, as well as metadata standards and formats, on the basis of a proposal by the consortium assembly. The scientific senate also advises on the progress of the consortia’s projects, and decides on the inclusion and integration of comprehensive services in the National Research Data Infrastructure.

Canada: Open Government Portal

Canada’s Open Government Portal was initiated and is maintained by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat in the Chief Information Officer Branch (now Office of the Chief Information Officer). Federal departments and agencies are responsible for maximising the release of government information and data of business value; each of the federal government’s Science-based Departments and Agencies releases open-data and/or information resources through the official portal.6 Additionally, the Government of Canada recently established the position of Chief Science Advisor of Canada, who works to ensure that government science is fully available to the public and that government scientists can speak freely about their work (Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, Open Government Team, 2018). As part of Canada’s 2018-2020 Plan, there is a commitment to “Promote open science and actively solicit feedback from stakeholders and federal scientists on their needs with respect to open data and open science.”

The portal provides access to a broad range of scientific data and information resources, including more than 60 000 geospatial datasets,7 6 000 data and information resources on the subject of “science and technology”, data and information from science-based departments and agencies such as Environment and Climate Change Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Health Canada, and National Research Council Canada.

Canada’s original open-government portal was created following consultation with Canadians on a digital-economy strategy and open government. The results stressed the importance of providing open access to PSI and data, in particularly the need to improve the availability of data for researchers and the private sector, with fewer restrictions on reuse of these information assets. Regular consultations include an online dialogue to generate potential ideas for the plan, a series of in-person workshops in cities across the country, a series of thematic webinars, an online questionnaire on the portal and social media presence, including tweets and blog posts about consultation opportunities.

Argentina: The Argentine Science and Technology Information Portal

The Science and Technology Information Portal was created on the basis of a comprehensive pre-existing legal and regulatory framework related to open access to the scientific and technological production and to the primary data of the scientific investigations carried out with funds from the government. This includes the Law on the Creation of the National Science and Technology system, the Law on the Creation of Digital Repositories, the Law on Access to Public Information, and appropriate decrees. Nevertheless, stakeholders expressed reluctance about providing access to data (Luchilo, D’Onofrio and Tignino, 2018).

The lead department for the portal is the Secretariat of Scientific and Technological Articulation of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation. Consensus was built with the science and technology institutions within the Inter-institutional Council of Science and Technology, which structures the national STI system. Under the co-ordination of the National Directorate of Programmes and Projects, meetings convened participating stakeholders. Individual meetings were held to secure an institutional political agreement; group meetings were held with each department or institution’s technical professionals, to incorporate the available science and technology information; and political and technical meetings were held to evaluate the portal in its final version.

International examples were used as models, including OpenNASA, LA Referencia, the open-data page of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and OpenAIRE. These models were chosen because of the large amounts of information handled, their integration and interoperability, the power of their search engines, and their ability to recover and communicate information.

European Union: Horizon 2020 Open Research Data Pilot and Data Management Plan

The initiative was launched by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research and Development through a broad public consultation on “Science 2.0: Science in Transition” in 2014 (European Commission, 2014). Among the policy interventions discussed was support for data sharing, management, curation and storage. The proposed interventions included building relevant infrastructure, developing data skills, incentivising data sharing and nurturing the development of good practice in handling data (European Commission, 2018a).

Based on the consultation results, it was decided to include an Open Research Data Pilot. Guidance is provided through H2020 Programme guidelines on FAIR data management (European Commission, 2016c) and open access to publications and research data in H 2020 (European Commission, 2017). Article 29.3 of the Grant Agreement for H 2020 formulates the legal requirement. Opt-out from the requirement is possible if the action’s main objective would be jeopardised by making those specific parts of the research data openly accessible. In this case, the data-management plan must contain the reasons for not giving access.

Mexico: Open science policy – Open Repositories Programme

The Open Repositories Programme is governed along two main dimensions: legislative and organisational (CONACYT, 2018). The legislative dimension has three levels: federal law, general guidelines and technical guidelines. The same structure applies to the organisational dimension. The Congress of the Union is the only institution authorised to modify the first level; the internal governance structures of CONACYT can modify the second and third-level documents. The first-level legislative document, “Mexican Law for Science and Technology”, considers the overall policy goals (Government of Mexico, 2015). The second-level document, “General Guidelines for Open Science”, contains guidelines for the policy’s design and implementation (Government of Mexico and CONACYT, 2017a). The third-level document, “Specific Guidelines for Open Repositories”, considers the more technical elements (Government of Mexico and CONACYT, 2017b). This governance model allows maintaining the main policy goal while updating the technical framework.

The initiative is led by CONACYT, which drafted the Law on Science and Technology. The repositories programme was included in the law as a standalone objective, in the spirit of a “build it and they will come” strategy focusing on funding the repository. Over time, the “capacity-building” component was considered lacking; it is now considered of equal importance as the funding component.

CONACYT established an open science committee (staffed entirely by CONACYT) as the main governance mechanism for the open science policy. The main stakeholders are research institutions and CONACYT public research centres that have developed or hosted an institutional repository. The stakeholders are consulted on second and third-level legislation; their comments are considered for the final decision, which is taken by the committee. When the issue concerns solving a specific and technical issue, an internal analytic group provides the committee with the necessary information to make a decision.

Sweden: Infrastructures for Register-based Research, a government commission to the Swedish Research Council

The Swedish initiative is entirely led by the Swedish Research Council (SRC) and was initially managed according to the SRC project model. The project is governed by an internal steering group, comprising members representing high-level expertise in register-based research, information technology and research infrastructures. The steering group is chaired by the SRC director general. In 2015, the unit for register-based research was established and entrusted with co-ordinating related activities. In 2018, this task was included in the SRC instructions and is now considered permanent (Eriksson and Nilsson, 2018).

At the outset, extensive mapping of the register-based research landscape was conducted in order to understand the bottlenecks and hindrances facing researchers in their projects. It revealed that the main issues lie in the formulation phase, when the researcher has to define the exact data needed for the project – a difficult task without possessing a good understanding of the variables at hand. It was therefore decided to structure the infrastructure on a principle separating the data from the non-sensitive metadata and semantics, which would then facilitate dialogue between the researcher and the register holder (Figure 3.2). The Register Utiliser Tool allows such rich description of the register contents at a variable level, using non-sensitive metadata.

Responsibility for metadata and semantics is assigned to each register owner’s organisation, and the infrastructure does not engage in harmonisation activities between the register owners. Rather, the researchers are provided with thorough descriptions of variables, including rich metadata and semantics, to allow them to compare variables and inform a judgement on harmonisation possibilities. The project’s work on method and training, together with the infrastructure’s application support, aims to promote the use of standardised terminologies, ontologies and classifications, and to make it easy to choose from standards (if appropriate) when working with the metadata and semantics. The choice and decisions are, however, still made by the register owner’s organisation.

United States: Principles for Promoting Access to Federal Government-Supported Scientific Data and Research Findings through International Scientific Co-operation

The initiative comes from the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Pursuant to the 2013 OSTP directive (Holdren, 2013), each US government funding agency with over USD 100 million (US dollars) in annual conduct of research expenditures developed a plan to increase public access to peer-reviewed scholarly publications and the associated digital scientific data necessary to validate the published research findings. Generally, each agency plan was required to provide strategies for maximising access to, and increasing the findability and reusability of, research results funded by that government agency. In providing such access, agencies were required to address concerns by protecting data: i) relating to personal privacy; ii) subject to intellectual property rights; or iii) that could harm US national, homeland and economic security. In addition, agencies had to balance the benefits associated with long-term preservation and access with the costs and administrative burden of data curation and storage (US Government, 2019).

Bottom-up initiatives driven by institutions

The initiatives in this category are taken by individual institutions grouped under loose consortia. In two of the four initiatives (Netherlands and Colombia), the ministries are involved, albeit not in the driving seat. In the Netherlands, the ministry sets up the National Platform Open Science, but does not participate in the steering committee. In Colombia, the ministry is part of the steering committee, but the co-ordinator is a research institute. In the UK Concordat, government involvement is even more remote, with only verbal support for the initiative and a commitment not to interfere with a consensus achieved by research stakeholders. In Belgium, policymakers are not formally or informally involved in largely operational initiatives.

The following section synthesises issues related to the governance and processes of the four cases in this category.

Netherlands National Plan Open Science

The Open Science Declaration has four key ambitions: i) 100% open access publishing; ii) optimal (re)use of research data; iii) recognise researchers with corresponding evaluation and valuation systems; and iv) encourage and support open science.

It was signed on 9 February 2017 by major research institutions and associations in the Netherlands that have come together in the National Platform Open Science. The platform is supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, which will organise its set-up, including a secretarial office and website. The signatories include: the Association of Universities in the Netherlands;8 the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences;9 the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research;10 the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences;11 the PhD Candidates Network of the Netherlands;12 the National Library of the Netherlands;13 the Collaborative Organisation for ICT in Dutch Education and Research;14 the Dutch Federation of University Medical Centres;15 the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development;16 and GO (Global Open) Findable, Accessible Interoperable, Reusable (GO FAIR)17 (Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, 2018).

The governance of the National Plan for Open Science (NPOS) consists of the following:

  • The steering group, which guards the progress, decides on the direction, ensures commitment and unity, and connects with (inter)national initiatives. It ensures commitment to the NPOS at the highest level. It consists of the executives of selected parties involved in the Open Science Declaration.

  • The National Co-ordinator Open Science, who serves as a “voice of scientists” and advisor to the steering committee on the key ambitions of the NPOS, represents the National Plan and the National Platform to the outside world, and brings attention to open science at the national and international level. The co-ordinator is preferably a scientist with extensive knowledge in the field of open science.

  • The National Platform Open Science¸ whose role is to promote regular deliberation between the parties involved in the Open Science Declaration, to ensure that the ambitions of the NPOS are realised, and that coherence and co-operation in the field of open science is stimulated. It consists of open-science experts from the parties involved in the Open Science Declaration.

  • Theme groups, which lead in-depth thematic discussions on the four key ambitions of the NPOS to realise and implement the ambitions, and inform the Platform on progress. They consist of open-science experts from the parties involved in the Open Science Declaration.

  • The Secretariat, which supports the Platform chair (Ministry of Education, Culture and Science) both in terms of logistics and content, serves as the contact point for Dutch and international parties, and assists in carrying out platform activities.

Following the adoption of the Declaration in 2017, the theme groups, in co-operation and consultation with the steering committee, national co-ordinator and platform, have been working on implementing the NPOS. They have produced a Roadmap to open access, as well as recommendations for recognising and rewarding researchers for furthering open science.

UK Concordat on Open Research Data

The UK Concordat on Open Research Data (UK Research and Innovation, 2016) was initiated by the UK Open Research Data Forum, a body established in January 2014 by the Royal Society. The Concordat’s membership comprises representatives from academies, universities, funders, publishers, private-sector research (pharmaceuticals) and key related bodies supporting research, such as Jisc, the Open Data Institute and the British Library. The Open Research Data Forum proposed the development of the Concordat to help accelerate culture change. A draft concordat was released for consultation in 2015. About 80 responses were received from a variety of organisations; these helped inform the final version published in 2016, featuring signatories from research funders and universities, specifically Universities UK, Research Councils UK (RCUK), the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the Wellcome Trust (Bruce, 2018).

The then Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation wrote a supportive foreword clarifying the status of the Concordat: “This is not a government-owned document, nor should it be. The research community has worked hard to arrive at the consensus delivered in this report and I would like to thank the members of the UK Open Research Data Forum for their valuable contributions.”

The Concordat has had further signatories. In discussion with other stakeholders and signatories, its ongoing governance and implementation fall under UK Research and Innovation.18

The Concordat built on the legacy of the OECD Recommendation of the Council concerning Access to Research Data from Public Funding (OECD, 2006), the Research Councils’ Common principles on Data (Research Council UK, 2012) and the report by The Royal Society (2012) on “Science as an Open Enterprise”, as well as of European policies such as the Commission Recommendation 2012/417/EU on access to and preservation of scientific information (European Union, 2012) and the “G8 science ministers statement: London” (G8, 2013).

South Africa: DataFirst repository

DataFirst’s repository is located within the University of Cape Town’s governance structure. Funded partly by the university and partly by grants, the independent unit is based at the Faculty of Commerce. DataFirst’s director, who is also a full-time professor at the School of Economics, has overall responsibility for the unit and DataFirst research initiatives. DataFirst’s manager oversees the operations of the repository and other data services, and supervises data-service staff (Woolfrey, 2018).

A governing board provides oversight. It meets annually to review DataFirst’s annual report, provide input on operations and discuss relevant scientific developments. The board comprises representatives from South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology, National Statistics Agency and other government departments, and research-intensive universities, as well as from the African Economic Research Consortium (a policy think-tank). International board members include the directors of two well-established data archives: the UK Data Archive at the University of Essex and the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research at the University of Michigan. DataFirst’s strategic goal is to promote the efficient and equitable sharing of South Africa’s public-sector data for research purposes. Its governance model allows clients in government and academia to provide feedback on adherence to this goal. DataFirst’s board also advises on developments in data science and policy.

Belgium: Data Management Plan Belgium Consortium

Data Management Plan Belgium Consortium is led by a consortium of all Belgian universities, except KU Leuven, which has its own DMPonline programme. DMPonline.be is a joint service for which partners are jointly responsible (i.e. it is not a software product or service for sale) on a best-effort basis, rather than with a service-level guarantee (Laureys, 2018).

The general assembly, in which each partner is represented, manages the project and consortium; Ghent University acts as the co-ordinator. The assembly can take valid decisions with a two-thirds quorum and a two-thirds majority of votes cast, although some decisions require unanimous votes or a positive vote from the co-ordinator. One policymaker from the Federal Science Policy Office is an observing member, and close ties are maintained with the Flemish Interuniversity Council (VLIR) and French-speaking Rectors’ Council.

During the pilot phase in 2015-16, Ghent University Library installed a local version of the open-source DMPonline software (version 4.1), an application for data-management planning originally developed by the United Kingdom’s Digital Curation Centre. Possibilities for collaboration were discussed in a number of settings, e.g. at the VLIR working group on research-data management, at open-access networking events and at several meetings of university libraries.

In 2017, the consortium was formalised through a draft consortium agreement that also outlined how new partners can enter the consortium. The consortium also agreed on a code of conduct for people involved in administering the software. At the same time, the software was moved to Belnet servers and enriched with a number of features. In 2018, more institutions joined the consortium, including four French-language universities and a public research organisation. A final consortium contract is yet to be signed.

Colombia: Colombian Biodiversity Information System – SiB Colombia

The governance structure of SiB Colombia is made up of a partners’ network. Partners can be individuals, organisations or networks, who assume one of three possible roles: i) data publisher, contributing data to the system; ii) advisor, contributing expertise; or iii) promoter, helping to diffuse information on SiB Colombia, build capacity, and/or secure economic or other resources for the operation of SiB Colombia (Escobar, Hernández and Agudelo, 2018).

The network is organised around the following bodies:

  • Steering committee (CD-SiB): the steering committee represents partners’ interests, evaluates operating guidelines, and orients strategies and resources. Its members include the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, the directors of five leading research institutes in various fields related to biodiversity, the rector of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia and the director of the National Natural Parks.

  • Technical committee (CT-SiB): the technical committee defines the conceptual and operational guidelines that guide the scope and activities of SiB Colombia, consolidates tools, products and information services to improve access to data and information on biodiversity in Colombia; validates data; and performs other technical tasks. Its members are delegates from the institutions represented in the steering committee, complemented by invited experts as needed.

  • Interest and work groups: these groups work on subjects related to biodiversity, in response to the specific needs of SiB Colombia.

  • Co-ordinating team (EC-SiB): the co-ordinating team is a group of professionals who ensure the coherence and viability of both SiB Colombia’s infrastructure assembly, start-up and maintenance processes, as well as its content, governance and communication.

The Alexander von Humboldt Biological Resources Research Institute is the entity responsible for the design, implementation and co-ordination of the country’s SiB. In accordance with Law 99 of 1993, and regulatory decrees 1600 and 1603 of 1994, the Institute houses the EC-SiB.

Queries to stakeholders are conveyed through the EC-SiB and its co-operation line, which leads the design and implementation of the strategies and processes promoting the expansion and consolidation of the SiB Colombia network. The EC-SiB is responsible for facilitating the implementation of the governance guidelines; maintaining the spaces and mechanisms enabling the participation of the people, organisations and networks comprising SiB Colombia; and co-ordinating and facilitating the collaborative construction of projects.

copy the linklink copied!International influences on national policy making

Several international frameworks are shaping national policy agendas in the domain of enhanced access to and sharing of data (see Chapter 2). Many of the case studies mention these frameworks’ influence on their own policy making. The interconnectedness of STI systems makes it almost inevitable to consider such references. The case studies mention OECD, Group of Eight (G8), UNESCO and European Commission initiatives; the work of the Committee on Data (CODATA) of the International Council for Science and the Research Data Alliance; and reference national policy making in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia; the OECD Recommendation of the Council concerning Access to Research Data from Public Funding (OECD, 2006), as well as OECD work on open science (OECD, 2015); the UNESCO Policy Guidelines for the Development and Promotion of Open Access (Swan, 2012); and the G8 Science Ministers Statement (G8, 2013).

The European initiatives that are most often mentioned include the Commission Recommendation 2012/417/EU on access to and preservation of Scientific Information (European Commission, 2012), the GO FAIR initiative and the European Open Science Cloud (European Commission, 2018b). The case studies point to free movement of information as the fifth EU freedom (after the free movement of people, goods, services and capital). They also mention the Budapest Open Access initiative when policies have a combined scope, covering open access to both scientific publications and data. Countries where access to data for STI is linked to open-government frameworks quote the Open Government Partnership19 as relevant to access to research data. South Africa’s DataFirst initiative reports the most comprehensive benchmarking with international frameworks (Table 3.2).

International interoperability is key. For example, Finland considered internationally interoperable metadata as an important factor, not only for operating the services, but also obtaining international visibility and achieving global impact (Haapamaki, 2018). The Slovenian open-access strategy states that “the national open-access infrastructure for peer-reviewed publications and research data has to be interoperable with relevant European and international infrastructures. Slovenian publications repositories, research-data repositories and archives as well as software for scientific journal publishing have to be compatible with OpenAIRE guidelines, which will enable the European and national research funders to monitor the compliance with open-access mandates for scientific information.” (Tramte, 2018) Although it is originally European, Argentina and Mexico have also adopted OpenAIRE for their repositories (Luchilo, D’Onofrio and Tignino, 2018).

Several countries are also actively involved in shaping such initiatives: Germany, the Netherlands and France are founding members of GO FAIR. All EU member states are gearing up for the European Open Science Cloud, and also contribute to EU recommendations and directives.

France is pioneering an approach to extend data sharing to private-sector data of public interest. This is already enacted in French legislation, and President Macron wants to co-ordinate such an approach at the European level (Présidence de la République, 2018). France also wishes to propose new forms of data sharing for AI through public-private partnerships (DGE, 2018) and to create an intergovernmental expert group to further develop these ideas (French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation , 2018).

Further regional approaches include Mexico’s role in promoting open science as regional leader of the Ibero-American Summit, and helping Panama and Paraguay design their own national open-science policies (CONACYT, 2018). Sweden has also led an effort which led to the adoption of, or mapping to, the General Statistical Information Model standard in the Nordic statistical institutes, thereby increasing interoperability on a Nordic scale (Eriksson and Nilsson, 2018).

International co-operation itself is an ingredient of open science as a global phenomenon. It materialises, for example, through the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), an international network and research infrastructure funded by the world’s governments and aiming to provide open access to data about all types of life on Earth to anyone, anywhere. SiB Colombia is the “node” responsible for co-ordinating GBIF-related activities in Colombia since 2003 (Escobar, Hernández and Agudelo, 2018).

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Table 3.2. Commonalities among data-sharing principles
Principles used as references by the DataFirst repository at the University of Cape Town, South Africa

Date

Name

Data

Principle

Accessibility

Inter-operable

Machine-readable

Timely

Secure

Interpretable

Permanent

Discoverable

Non-discriminatory

Complete

Primary

Data should be online and easy to find

Access should be on equal terms

Data should be made available in their entirety

Primary, not aggregate data

Standardised open formats

Structured to allow automated processing

Shared in a timely manner

Protection of privacy of data subjects

Good data documentation

Preserved and shared in the long term

1996

Bermuda Principles

Genomics data

o

o

o

o

1997

Data quality principles

Government data

o

o

o

o

o

o

2007

OECD Principles and Guidelines for Access to Research Data from Public Funding

Data from publicly funded research

o

o

o

o

o

o

o

o

2007

Sebastopol Principles - eight fundamental principles for open government data

Government data

o

o

o

o

o

o

o

o

2010

10 Open Government

Government data

o

o

o

o

o

o

o

o

o

2014

FAIR Data Principles (findable, accessible, inter-operable, re-usable)

Research data

o

o

o

o

o

o

2015

ICSU-WDS Data Sharing Principles

Research data

o

o

Source: Woolfrey (2018), “The DataFirst Research Data Repository”, https://community.oecd.org/servlet/JiveServlet/downloadBody/149008-102-2-264196/20190228-oecd-case-study-sa-df-v2.pdf.

copy the linklink copied!Monitoring and evaluation of policies

Although monitoring of the initiatives could be improved, some positive impacts can be identified. Overall, few of the case studies have developed specific monitoring schemes, although several feature such objectives in their roadmap. Even fewer have specific impact assessment frameworks, whether ex ante or ex post.

Finland, which has developed a comprehensive evaluation system, is a positive example of monitoring and evaluation. The strategy group outlined a set of key indicators for monitoring progress on the ATT initiative. An independent review was conducted in 2016, analysing a range of developments, from the level of international policies to the “grassroots”. Individual and group interviews, as well as a web survey, were used to investigate issues such as cultural change towards openness, perceived benefits and drivers of the transition towards openness. The report further investigates how researchers harness the benefits of open science and research, the perceived societal benefits, challenges and the way forward (Tuomi, 2016). In addition, the report evaluates openness in the activities of research institutions and research-funding organisations, highlighting best practices and areas of development, while initiating discussions on open science and research at the international level (Haapamaki, 2018).

The European Commission also has an advanced monitoring system, at the level of compliance with both its Recommendation on access to and preservation of scientific information, and its Open Research Data Pilot and Data Management Plan (Box 3.3) (European Commission, 2018a).

In Germany, the agreement between the federal government and the Länder includes the evaluation of the effectiveness of funding as well as the structural effects of the National Research Data Infrastructure. The intended evaluation is twofold: it addresses the effectiveness of both the National Research Data Infrastructure itself and the funded consortia. The consortia will be regularly evaluated by the German Research Foundation, while the National Research Data Infrastructure will be structurally evaluated by the Scientific Council after seven years (Philipps and Bodmann, 2018).

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Box 3.3. Monitoring implemented by the European Commission

Since the publication of the Recommendation on access to and preservation of scientific information in 2012, the European Commission has been monitoring the impact of the Recommendation, and progress towards the objectives, through the reporting of the Member States and three Associated Countries, thanks to the national points of reference.

Implementation of FAIR principles is uneven across the European Union. As of 2016, 8 countries1 (out of 31 surveyed) included open access to research data within their research-policy documents (and only 1 had actually implemented it). Approximately one-half of the EU member states impose data-management plans and FAIR principles; other countries sometimes have open-access schemes at the institutional level. Funding for research-data management is available in 12 countries (out of 31), but open research data are eligible under most national funding schemes. In many countries, research-data management is only applied to EU projects.

FAIR research-data management practices (focusing on various different research artefacts produced as part of scientific activities, e.g. datasets, software tools, workflows, notebooks, ontologies and articles) need to be developed and implemented at the national level, with more room for work on TDM, its effects on research and positive conclusions regarding developments in e-infrastructure policy.

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Figure 3.2. National policies or overall strategies to encourage or mandate dissemination of and open access to research data are defined at the national level
Figure 3.2. National policies or overall strategies to encourage or mandate dissemination of and open access to research data are defined at the national level

1. Note by Turkey:

The information in this document with reference to “Cyprus” relates to the southern part of the Island. There is no single authority representing both Turkish and Greek Cypriot people on the Island. Turkey recognises the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Until a lasting and equitable solution is found within the context of the United Nations, Turkey shall preserve its position concerning the “Cyprus issue”.

Note by all the European Union Member States of the OECD and the European Union:

The Republic of Cyprus is recognised by all members of the United Nations with the exception of Turkey. The information in this document relates to the area under the effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus.

Source: European Commission (2018a), “Case study of policy initiative for open access to research data: Horizon 2020 open research data (ORD) pilot and data management plan”, https://community.oecd.org/servlet/JiveServlet/downloadBody/141323-102-1-248452/European_Commission.pdf.

Study for the Open Research Data Pilot in 2017

In 2014-16, 68% of the funded projects in the core areas participated in the Open Research Data Pilot. Correspondingly, the average opt-out rate in signed grant agreements was 32%. Outside the core areas, 9% of projects availed themselves of the voluntary opt-in possibility. It is notable that as the sample size increases from the first datasets (2014-15) to the second dataset (2015-16), the opt-outs decrease, and voluntary opt-ins in the non-core areas increase. This points to the policy’s overall success, both in terms of percentage and absolute number of projects participating.

In 2017, when the Open Research Data Pilot was extended to all areas of H 2020, initial data suggest a slightly lower participation rate (62.09%) and a slightly higher opt-out rate (37.91%). However, these are data is based on a small sample and needs to be corroborated by further evidence covering 2018.

The reasons for opting out remain consistent in the two datasets. Intellectual property (IP) comes first (46%), followed by no data generated (projects concern co-ordination and support actions) (17.9%) and privacy/personal-data protection (17.6%); a further 8.1% of applicants state they opted out because opening up research data would hinder their achieving the project’s main objective, and 5.3% opted out owing to confidentiality in a national-security context.

1. The latest report, published in 2018, gives the status as of 2016. Since then some countries, such as Norway and Denmark, have adopted strategies.

Source: European Commission (2018a), “Case study of policy initiative for open access to research data: Horizon 2020 open research data (ORD) pilot and data management plan”, https://community.oecd.org/servlet/JiveServlet/downloadBody/141323-102-1-248452/European_Commission.pdf.

The Norwegian, Slovenian and Korean strategies do not yet have specific monitoring frameworks. However, in Korea, the investment plans for the strategy will undergo a review that systematically assesses the scientific, economic and policy impacts of the investment plans, and decides whether to go ahead with the investment or not (Shin, 2018). Norway will develop relevant statistics on the generation and sharing of research data (Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, 2018). In Slovenia, the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport has not yet established monitoring and evaluation processes, which will be created during the initial phases of the implementation (Tramte, 2018).

France foresees the development of an open-science barometer in the future as part of the recently launched National Plan for Open Science (French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, 2018). In the Netherlands, monitoring of open access also remains to be developed as one of the five pillars in the Roadmap to Open Access 2018-2020 (VSNU, 2018; Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, 2018).

Principle 10 of the UK Concordat’s states that “[r]egular reviews of progress towards open research data should be undertaken.” It further calls for reviews to be regular, “not over-burdensome but rather flexible and recognise that developments will take time. Their essence should be one of identifying and sharing best practice. This would be best achieved through engagement with community activities, such as the UK Open Data Forum, that bring together the full range of stakeholders.” (Bruce, 2018)

In addition to general open-government data indicators, Canada has developed a dedicated framework for evaluating open-science implementation which uses the statistics of open-access datasets, as well as altmetrics attention scores and qualitative descriptions of open science-related software (Government of Canada, 2018; Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, Open Government Team, 2018).

The Colombian Biodiversity Portal collects basic statistics such as: i) number of entities and people publishing data per year; ii) number of visits and download of data from SiB Colombia web portals per month; iii) number of published data per month; and iv) type of data (taxonomic and geographic) (Escobar, Hernández and Agudelo, 2018). The Argentine Science and Technology Information Portal also does not have a specific framework and relies on Google Analytics to monitor portal activity (Luchilo, D’Onofrio and Tignino, 2018). South Africa’s DataFirst combines usage metrics (e.g. client registrations and data downloads) and publication citation counts, and also uses Google Analytics (Woolfrey, 2018). In Mexico and Sweden, monitoring is based on the funding agency’s usual procedure (CONACYT, 2018; Eriksson and Nilsson, 2018).

copy the linklink copied!Achievements and challenges

Achievements

The initiatives presented in the case studies have served the purpose of advancing the agenda of enhanced access to data for STI – and more generally the open-science agenda – through increased awareness and consensus-building among stakeholders. Depending on the degree of maturity, their positive is more qualitative or quantitative.

Among the high-level initiatives presented, Finland’s ATT initiative is the most mature. It has demonstrated its impact as an accelerator of open science both in Finland and in the international context. It has been able to address a number of issues, such as digitalised services for the research field, creating reference architecture for open science, providing practical guidelines and support for researchers, and creating models and tools for open access and long-term preservation of metadata. In addition, the ATT initiative has provided comparative information allowing funding and research organisations to determine their position regarding open science (Haapamaki, 2018).

The “future university” was an overwhelmingly popular topic in the ATT impact assessment, including how open science changes the way research is conducted and how the whole sector needs to embrace openness. The assessment also identified the need to look at open science from the perspective of wider audiences: for instance, how are students involved and what kinds of open-science competences will they need in the future? Some respondents noted that open science should be taught not only in higher education, but also at schools and kindergartens. Respondents also highlighted the importance of the operator’s role, on the premise that leaving the transformation to individual organisations would risk slowing down the pace of change. As so many major questions remain unanswered, the ATT initiative should be continued in some form.

Other high-level initiatives – such as Norwegian, Korean and Slovenian strategies, the Netherlands’ Open Science Policy and the UK Concordat – have yet to be implemented, and quantitative impact is therefore expected in the future. To date, they have had more qualitative achievements, such as raising community awareness and initiating dialogue about data sharing among key stakeholders (academia, policy makers, data repositories and the private sector). The UK Concordat concludes it has helped ensure that university leaders are aware of the needs for Open Research Data, its benefits and the key challenge areas. It has ensured initial buy-in and commitment, and resulted in agreed principles for and high-level endorsement of Open Research Data (Bruce, 2018).

In Korea, the debate on open access was linked to unleashing the power of big data and data-driven innovation during the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Shin, 2018). In Argentina, consensus-building around the portal has helped partly overcome the cultural barrier against data sharing (Luchilo, D’Onofrio and Tignino, 2018).

As pointed out by Slovenia (but valid in most cases), provisions for research-data management and openness are not designed as standalone solutions, but are fully aligned with international recommendations. Also, the national approach to designing provisions is more efficient than the introduction of separate provisions by individual research-funding and research-performing organisations (Tramte, 2018).

Adoption of a common standard and a technical framework has also been reported by both Mexico (OpenAIRE) (CONACYT, 2018) and Sweden (Generic Statistical Information Model [GSIM]). Sweden reports the GSIM acts as an effective common language of metadata and provides a framework for identifying what parts of the metadata and semantic descriptions need to be further curated, and which parts can be harvested and used “as is” (Eriksson and Nilsson, 2018). However, Colombia points out the GSIM common standard is a necessary support framework, but was not the strategy underpinning the construction of an initiative such as SiB Colombia (Escobar, Hernández and Agudelo, 2018).

As explicitly reported by Colombia (but implicitly stated in many other case studies), a set of principles and values is the basis for the trust necessary to build the initiative. The construction of an open-access ecosystem is a collective exercise: recognition and visibility are the first steps required to generate confidence. The discourse and the language must be coherent with the principles and values, and in turn with the actions. Additionally, it is important to build on the available infrastructure, rather than starting from a blank sheet.

The European Open Research Data Pilot shows more quantitative impact, with a relatively high opt-in rate (68%) – demonstrating that researchers are willing to share their data in most cases. The researchers who opted out (32%) quoted IP of data as the major reason. This finding would need additional analysis, to understand whether it relates to specific projects combining proprietary background knowledge with research financed by H 2020 (European Commission, 2018a).

Among the case studies presented, SiB Colombia, initiated 24 years ago, has the longest track record. This initiative shows quantified achievements, including 2.45 million records referring to 62 829 species, 101 publishing institutions, 5 340 species profiles and 130 species checklists. In addition, SiB Colombia reports the following achievements: i) implementation of an open-source platform2020 ii) creation of an open-access guide and data-use policy;2121 iii) development of a robust and interoperable data-publishing model;2222 and iv) establishment of a solid and operational governance model2323 (Escobar, Hernández and Agudelo, 2018).

Other initiatives are still in the build-up stage and already have an impact, which can be further developed. For example, the Argentine portal launched in 2017 now contains 18 000 projects from the main funding sources, but still needs to include projects from other scientific organisations and universities (Luchilo, D’Onofrio and Tignino, 2018). Mexico reports ten ongoing Open Research Data repositories, with 27 000 research datasets (CONACYT, 2018). Canada’s Open Government Portal allows users to search through over 81 000 open data and information from departments and agencies across the federal government (Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, Open Government Team, 2018). The Swedish infrastructure is operational, with a limited number of sensitive register datasets. However, the SRC, Statistics Sweden, and the National Board of Health and Welfare are currently discussing the need to devise technical solutions for data disclosure that can also link register data with big data, as well as the need to expand the dialogue to other actors in the e-infrastructure ecosystem (Eriksson and Nilsson, 2018).

Future challenges

Cultural barriers remain a cross-cutting challenge. They stem from researchers’ reluctance to share data, owing to concerns over the associated risks and burdens. The attitude of Korean researchers is illustrated in Figure 3.3, but most case studies mention similar attitudes. Slovenia reports that recognition of efforts to ensure Open Research Data in research-evaluation processes would encourage researchers to embrace openness more quickly (Tramte, 2018). Mexico reports that institutions participate in the Open Repositories Programme, but that the academic community does not (CONACYT, 2018). The UK Concordat points out that cultural change will take time (Bruce, 2018). As Norway correctly notes, it is important not to have unrealistic expectations. While there exist many legitimate reasons for demanding confidentiality of research data, a superficial disregard of open-access obligations should not be accepted when such issues are raised. Further, a real judgement should be made of how data can be made “as open as possible” within those constraints (Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, 2018).

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Figure 3.3. Korean researcher perceptions of open (research) data
Percentage of responding researchers who had disclosed their data and underlying reasons
Figure 3.3. Korean researcher perceptions of open (research) data

Source: An et al. (2017), “Survey of Korean researchers on open science”, recited from Shin (2018), “Korean case report on enhanced access to public data for science, technology & innovation”, https://community.oecd.org/servlet/JiveServlet/downloadBody/141310-102-4-263210/korean%20case%20report.pdf.

Another cross-cutting issue is the lack of appropriate skills in the build-up to projects. In the example of the Argentine portal, the technical team had to self-train, through virtual courses and a trial-and-error approach (Luchilo, D’Onofrio and Tignino, 2018). Finland anticipates insufficient or poorly organised resources for development and training, mostly owing to a lack of long-term funding (Haapamaki, 2018). Slovenia reports a lack of data experts in the country, slowing down the implementation of its open-access strategy (Tramte, 2018). Sweden underlines the importance of involving all relevant competences, spanning metadata and semantics, and understanding the research domain to adapt to researchers’ needs. In addition, researchers’ skills in research-data management and openness need to be further developed (Eriksson and Nilsson, 2018).

It is important to understand the domain and researchers’ underlying needs. For example, modelling concept systems that describe the semantics of the concepts used in the register context is fundamental to understanding the content. If done properly, such modelling allows researchers to use data without delving into the technical details or understanding complex variable names.

Research-data management plans are perceived as an important instrument in emphasising data considerations early in the project cycle, but requirements need to be balanced against the administrative burden on researchers and the need for flexibility in different types of research. Research-data management is not always budgeted for and thus comprises additional burden to researchers, which is not necessarily compensated. The next European Framework Programme will require research-data management plans, even for projects that opt out from opening their data (European Commission, 2018a).

Moreover, Norway points out the need to recognise the significant costs of open access, and to reduce those costs and find business models that can sustainably uphold open-access efforts (Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, 2018). Mexico reports that its national open science policy lacks its own resources, and that its funding therefore depends on another programme (CONACYT, 2018).

The rich variety of policy initiatives reviewed in the various case studies illustrates the different approaches to enhancing data access. The issue is being given strong policy attention, and in many cases there is a strong top-down effort to create a comprehensive strategy, striking the appropriate balance between reaping the benefits of enhanced data sharing and managing the associated risks. The next chapter will address the remaining policy gaps more specifically.

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Notes

← 1. In the Slovenian context, scientific information comprises both scientific publications and data.

← 2. Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the governments of the Federal States (Länder) – Joint Science Conference.

← 3. Argentina: Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation; European Union: European Commission – DG Research; Finland: Ministry of Education and Culture; Korea: MSIT; Norway: Ministry of Education and Research; Slovenia: Ministry of Education and Research, Spain: Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities.

← 4. Mexico: CONACYT; Sweden: SRC. 

← 5. An umbrella organisation of government research institutes.

← 6. open.canada.ca.

← 7. The Open Maps section of the open government portal is the public interface of the Federal Geospatial Platform. NRCan led extensive efforts to consolidate, standardise, and improve access to geospatial data. They provide data via mappable data services, much of which is science and research based. Canada is a global leader in geospatial data.

← 8. www.vsnu.nl.

← 9. https://knaw.nl/en.

← 10. www.nwo.nl/en.

← 11. www.vereniginghogescholen.nl/english.

← 12. www.hetpnn.nl.

← 13. www.kb.nl/en.

← 14. www.surf.nl/en.

← 15. www.nfu.nl/english.

← 16. www.zonmw.nl.

← 17. www.go-fair.org.

← 18. UK Research and Innovation was formed in April 2018. It is made up of the research councils, Research England and Innovate UK; it therefore replaces HEFCE and RCUK, which were original signatories of the Concordat.

← 19. https://www.opengovpartnership.org/.

← 20. 20 http://biodiversidad.co/.

← 21. 21 https://www.sibcolombia.net/acceso-abierto/.

← 22. 22 https://www.sibcolombia.net/servicios/.

← 23. 23 https://www.sibcolombia.net/el-sib-colombia/.

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