On November 23, 2021, the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science was formally adopted, representing a significant achievement in our collective progress towards open science. The endorsement of the Recommendation by member states demonstrates strong support for the notion that widespread scientific collaboration and knowledge sharing are critical to addressing our most pressing issues and to advancing new discoveries.
The Recommendation,, which was developed with widespread community input and has been scrutinized carefully by an intergovernmental meeting of experts, provides a framework for the national adoption of open science practices and policies and aims to ensure that open science is implemented in a manner that “leaves no one behind”. It offers a framework that is flexible enough to allow national / regional variation in how it is implemented, also clearly establishes that “open” must become the default; governance must rest in the hands of the research community; and equity, inclusion and bibliodiversity are fundamental underlying principles.
As noted by Megha Sud, Science Officer and project lead for Open Science of the International Science Council in reference to these Recommendations, “the real work begins now”. Designing an effective system that fosters diversity of research domains, actors, languages and countries and also supports research at the global level will be extremely challenging. It means achieving a careful balance between unity and diversity; international and local; and careful coordination across different stakeholder communities and regions in order to avoid a fragmented ecosystem. On the other hand, we also have an unprecedented opportunity to greatly improve how research communications is done.
With members from around the world representing libraries, universities, research institutions, government funders and others, COAR has been an active partner in the development of the Recommendation and we remain committed to working with UNESCO and other local, national, international partners to support its implementation. There are currently approximately 6,000 research repositories around the world, which provide essential open science services by collecting, curating, providing access to, and preserving a wide range of research outputs. Working together and with sufficient resourcing, these repositories take collective responsibility for managing this valuable content layer in the ecosystem, while also respecting the principles of equity, inclusion, and bibliodiversity.
The need for adoption of good practices and interoperability across the global repository network (and, indeed the broader ecosystem) is critical in order to achieve the UNESCO vision for open science and COAR seeks to assist the entire repository community in implementing the foundational standards, technologies, and functionalities to support this aim. And, as the landscape continues to evolve, COAR will foster innovation through our ongoing work on the next generation repositories initiative and by defining a standard approach to linking repositories with other services, such as open peer review, which will build an additional element of transparency and confidence into the ecosystem.
COAR very much welcomes the adoption of the UNESCO Recommendation and looks forward to playing our part in advancing inclusive open science across the the globe.