Diagnosis of Open Science in Spanish universities and instruments for its transformation and improvement
The IAP-UAM and researchers of major international prestige in fields related to the proposed subject will collaborate with the INAECU (UC3M-UAM) Institute in the working plan to achieve the aims proposed.
The EU’s upcoming 9th Framework Program for Research and Innovation, Horizon Europe (2021- 2027), is to be conceived and to function, in a global context of massive knowledge digitization, as a political instrument. It will operate in a radically open, or participative, system of research and innovation that is characterized by “the three Os”: Open Innovation, Open Science and Open to the World. This “open” initiative is based on a commitment to developing reforms and infrastructure to facilitate and boost free access and exchange of knowledge and resources worldwide. This promotes scientific excellence and innovative efficiency (European Commission [EC], 2016, 2019*).
This ambitious project confronts the challenge of developing, based on the guidelines established by the EC (e.g., EC, 2017a), a new set of metrics for the open science space that can be used to diagnose the status of open research at Spanish universities and to offer instruments to strengthen and improve it.
This line of action requires the integration of multiple aspects relating to responsible open research that is less engaged with the pathways, commitments, and landmarks characteristic of traditional university systems. Instead, it is more oriented toward the collective creation of radically “open” sociotechnical futures and scenarios that will foster discussion about social actors’ current demands and expectations (Felt, 2017; Davies, 2019). For our proposal to accomplish this, it must work along the research line: attempting to arrive at an analytically robust diagnosis of the status and configuration of open science in the Spanish university system.
Universities’ transformation toward Open
Universities are the most significant research-performing organization (RPOs) in most countries, in terms of generating scientific knowledge. Furthermore, universities spread the knowledge they create in order to enrich the activities of their other missions, such as teaching and knowledge transfer both to industry and to society as a whole.
However, universities are not yet sufficiently engaged in implementing Open Science in their various activities. For this they require a series of transformations that can be narrowed down to the following two aspects (Ayris et al., 2018):
1) A cultural change in the organization and its ethos.The cultural shift that is necessary to perform effective open science research is constrained by various barriers, some of which may be linked to negative attitudes and resistance on the part of the various actors involved in the practice of open science. Therefore, it is necessary to identify such attitudes and values, act on them and successfully redirect them.
2) A change in the organizational model, with regards to the structures and processes used to design and perform research activities. Effective organization is important for accurately determining the level of response to the basic pillars of open science.
In this context, Spanish universities are called upon to play an important role in both the institutionalization of the practice of open science, and involvement with Science with and for Society (SwafS).
As some authors point out (Howe et al., 2017), “At the university level, open science when properly executed can accelerate the rate of scientific research throughout the institution and beyond. However, randomness or unenthusiastic efforts can squander valuable resources, decrease university productivity and prestige, and potentially do more harm than good.”
Spanish universities must realize that open science challenges the traditional roles of researchers, research organizations, libraries, and publishers (Maijala, 2016). Europe has seen experiments (e.g., the Finnish Open Science and Research Initiative) that are prime examples of networking and strategies and have served to motivate individuals and organizations to provide high-quality services, infrastructure construction and skills to promote a transition to open science.
Spanish universities must address these processes and challenges. Several other European countries have released national policies on open science (such as the Netherlands, France, and more recently Portugal). The results of this project can also inspire and fuel a future national Open Science Policy in Spain or in other countries.