SPARC welcomes the unanimous ratification of the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science during its 41st General Conference. This action represents an enormous step forward towards creating a global knowledge sharing ecosystem that is both open and equitable by design.
As the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis have underscored, there is an urgent need to accelerate scientific progress and to reimagine how we produce, share, and communicate scientific information. The UNESCO Open Science Recommendation provides a critical tool to catalyze change towards this on a global scale.
Developed through an inclusive, transparent, and multi-stakeholder consultation process, the Recommendation is the first global standard-setting framework for international open science policies and practices. It provides a common definition of open science that covers all scientific disciplines and scholarly practices while also encompassing the broad range of movements working to make scientific knowledge openly accessible and reusable for those within and outside the traditional scientific community.
The Recommendation articulates a set of shared values, principles, and standards for open science at the international level that are firmly grounded in equity and fairness, integrity, collective benefit, diversity, and inclusion.
It proposes seven key areas for global action in order to facilitate the production and dissemination of scientific knowledge around the world:
- Promoting a common understanding of open science, associated benefits and challenges, as well as diverse paths to open science;
- Developing and enabling a policy environment for open science;
- Investing in open science infrastructures and services;
- Investing in human resources, training, education, digital literacy and capacity building for open science;
- Fostering a culture of open science and aligning incentives for open science;
- Promoting innovative approaches for open science at different stages of the scientific process;
- Promoting international and multi-stakeholder cooperation in the context of open science and with view to reducing digital, technological and knowledge gaps.
Immediate and sustained collective action in these areas by all stakeholders—governments, funders, scientists, academic institutions, libraries, NGOs and the public—is the necessary next step. As UNESCO’s Director General noted:
“We are hopeful that this Global Recommendation on Open Science will provide the necessary framework for actors across the world to transform and democratize science. In this way, we can ensure that science truly responds to the most pressing needs of people and the planet, for the benefit of all…”
SPARC unreservedly supports UNESCO’s landmark document, and looks forward to collaborating with our colleagues throughout the global research community to catalyze actions that make this shared vision a reality. We call on all stakeholders in the research community – particularly both public and private research funders – to endorse and implement the Open Science Recommendation.
The full text of the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science can be found here, and there are a variety of resources available for those who would like to learn more about the Recommendation. These include a recording of UNESCO’s Assistant Director General, Dr. Shamila Nair-Bedouelle’s keynote at the 2nd UN Open Science Conference in which she describes the importance of the Recommendation in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Additionally, the second season of the SPARC-cosponsored Unsettling Knowledge Inequities Podcast also focuses on the Recommendation, with the first episode dedicated to unpacking the Recommendation and the context around its creation.