At a time when information is freely available in our pockets and many of the jobs in which our students will be employed in ten years’ time do not yet exist, it is clear that our educational models
Open science fortifies the integrity and transparency that we view as fundamental to research. It fosters a more democratic, inclusive culture where knowledge is more widely accessible and ensures that scientific progress is truly a collective endeavour.
It also has the potential to significantly accelerate research and innovation cycles: as the magnitude of modern scientific challenges requires data on scales that individual studies or institutions cannot feasibly produce or manage alone, open science approaches make it possible to share datasets, ensuring that our research is poised on the appropriate scale.
However, the journey towards fully adopting open science is paved with cultural and institutional barriers. Indeed, although open science is not necessarily antinomic with concerns of information sovereignty, privacy and commercialisation, it does require a shift in approach. Deeply-rooted in the academic landscape is a competitive ethos, and researchers are sometimes incentivised to guard their findings and avoid open collaboration and early data sharing. Researchers justifiably fear that premature sharing could lead to their work being “scooped” or used without appropriate attribution, thereby jeopardising their career advancement. Additionally, without proper management, the large amounts of data being shared through open science risk becoming overwhelming silos of isolated information, often inaccessible or incomprehensible to other researchers. Finally, geopolitical tensions are having an increasing impact on cutting-edge research fields and raise complex issues related to secrecy.
Effective data management and standardisation are, themselves, no trivial task and require a coherent framework, comprehensive guidelines and often, specialised tools or platforms. Researchers need not only the tools but also the training and incentives to manage and standardise data sharing effectively.
Establishing Saclay’s open science strategy. Because the accessibility of scientific publications and data fits the vision of our role for a public research university today, Université Paris-Saclay has made open science a priority. We have defined an explicit open science strategy, based on the major available frameworks at the national, European and international level, to ensure that our efforts are aligned with those of the scientific community as a whole.
This strategy takes into account the needs and practices of different disciplinary fields from the issue of large international data bases in astrophysics, to acute concerns for the protection of individual data in health or social sciences, and concerns of sovereignty and industrial spying in key technological fields. It is embedded throughout the university in our research teams and institutional structures, and monitored through our Open Science Barometer.
Promoting and encouraging publications in open access. Université Paris-Saclay is dedicating significant resources to increase open-access publications, by promoting the use of the HAL portal and by encouraging researchers to work within the principles of open science. The push for open access publication is monitored through a dedicated tool and is bearing fruit, with significant progress in the proportion of Université Paris-Saclay’s publications now being openly accessible (more than 75% for 2022 - see image).
To make the effort of publication in HAL as easy as possible for the research labs, an application to assist with submission to the HAL portal (“BiblioHAL”), based on an interconnection with ORCID, has been deployed throughout the University. By offering a robust service designed to help researchers streamline and manage their publication, our aspiration is to efficiently guide our teams through every stage to ensure our researchers focus remains on making scientific contributions while easing the challenges of research administration.
Optimising our scientific data and infrastructure. Proper storage, management and publication of scientific data is key both for tackling the issue of reproducibility of scientific results, and for maximising the opportunities for use and re-use of scientific data. Recent national guidelines as well as the evolution of requirements from research funding agencies strongly invite for a change of practice in the matter, promoting FAIR principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable). Université Paris-Saclay is particularly proactive in this domain, to ensure that a maximum of scientific data resulting from our teams’ research is freely and easily accessible, in compliance with intellectual property and personal data requirements. Concretely, we are consolidating a network of experts who are helping the change of practices towards Open Scientific Data, by providing support, training, and curation for the implementation and maintenance of the proper data infrastructure. This support mobilises a whole range of competencies, from legal expertise to library and database management. It is built on our technical capacity, and benefits from the fact that Université Paris-Saclay is the node of several national and European data platform infrastructures such as Recherche-Data-Gouv or EOSC. It is being tested in scientific communities, where open data present particular challenges and relevance such as humanities and social sciences, agriculture and environment, engineering sciences. It will be deployed throughout all research units of the university.
Raising awareness, training and change management. Open science transforms established scientific practices. Its quick adoption depends critically on training and awareness-raising of new generations of researchers so that they acquire the habits of proper data management, storage, use and publications. Our training is focused on the familiarisation of open access primarily to the next generation of researchers in a collaborative effort between La Maison du Doctorat and the Department of libraries, Information and Open Science. Université Paris-Saclay offers systematic training sessions on the issues surrounding open data management, balanced with considerations of confidentiality and protection of personal information. This concern is particularly strong in some fields, such as medical research, where personal data must be rigorously protected to guarantee the right to privacy. As an example, researchers in public health have been working on the initiative “Open CESP“ to develop a tool to clone patient’s cohorts’ data, into artificial datasets with the same joint distribution as the source data. The aim is to offer free access to these artificial datasets in order to stimulate broad collaboration and the scientific exploitation of the cohorts (with the real data being analysed at a later stage, if the results with the cloned dataset are promising), and to enable students and researchers from other Graduate Schools to familiarise themselves with this data.
Acknowledging Open Science and European Sovereignty. Finally, any open science policy must take into account the rise of geopolitical tensions and the renewed emphasis on technological sovereignty, as well as concerns for secrecy in the circulation of knowledge. This is all the more important seeing that European universities have fallen behind their Chinese and American competitors in key scientific fields such as biomedical engineering, computer science or nanotechnology. The shift in this respect has been particularly rapid: whereas five years ago talks about sovereignty applied to the scientific field would have seemed antiquated, today scientific espionage and the intervention of national security agencies are increasingly common. However, as a leading scientific actor, we are also convinced that Europe’s commitment to academic freedom and open science is one of our greatest assets. This commitment goes hand in hand with our mission to strengthen European scientific sovereignty.
Our commitments for better science
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