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12 Dec 2018


"Tout ce qui a été financé par la collectivité doit être accessible à la collectivité. La science est un bien commun. " Frédérique Vidal, ministre de l'Enseignement Supérieur, de la Recherche et de l'Innovation. 

“Anything funded by the community must be accessible to the community. Science is a common good” stated Frédérique Vidal, French Minister for Higher Education, Research and Innovation in her address at the journées nationales de la Science Ouverte (JNSO2018).

On the 4th July 2018, the French Ministry for Higher Education, Research and Innovation launched the “Plan Nationale pour la Science Ouverte”, or for those who do not speak “français” the “National Plan for Open Science
The plan is clear and well-structured, considerably ambitious, with three main commitments:

  1. Generalise open access to publications
  2. Structure research data and make it available through open access
  3. Be part of a sustainable European and international open science dynamic

From 4th to 6th December 2018, the Ministry for Higher Education, Research and Innovation hosted a 3-day event to work on practical aspects of this national plan, with the Research Data Alliance France organising the second day (5th December 2018). The event was attended by over 200 participants with many more than that joining online for the webcast due to the limitation on numbers at the venue. 

Over the three days, I learnt a great deal about national and international level activities, with many practical examples of RDA outputs and their implementation in France (all presentations are available online).

The ministry set up an Open Science Committee with 270 experts, some of whom are involved through a series of thematic “collèges” and project groups and a collaborative forum to identify pragmatic, collective and collaborative methods to achieve the plan’s objectives. They also have a French Open Science Monitor and according to the first results based on open data, 36% of French research outputs are openly available online.

The main objective is to identify pragmatic and useful mechanisms to coordinate efforts across the myriad of institutes and agencies in the French landscape. RDA is specifically cited in the Open Science Plan, with a commitment to support RDA in France.


RDA in support of the French National Open Science Plan

I was invited to attend and to speak on RDA and to frame RDA within the Open Science framework, with particular focus on how RDA can support the French community in achieving some of the aims and commitments. 

In terms of the first commitment GENERALISE OPEN ACCESS TO PUBLICATIONS, the Research Data Alliance can help to support the huge cultural change required to achieve this, it can be a reference place for some Best practices in Data Management and it could also be useful platform to understand or generate a group / groups to work on the Data aspects related to Open Access to publications, also in terms of legal facets, for example, where is the “linked” data housed and what protection mechanisms are in place.







With respect to the second commitment, STRUCTURE RESEARCH DATA AND MAKE IT AVAILABLE THROUGH OPEN ACCESS, the French National Open Science Plan commits to supporting the national level RDA activities, which is really a great link to RDA for French stakeholders but also for RDA to connect with France. On a national level the community can use RDA as a mechanism to identify solutions with international experts, adopt and implement DA outputs and also disseminate their own best practices in RDA.    







Finally, as far as the third commitment is concerned BE PART OF A SUSTAINABLE EUROPEAN AND INTERNATIONAL OPEN SCIENCE DYNAMIC. Clearly as an international - over 137 countries are represented in RDA, open and transparent initiative it offers one platform for France to leverage upon to ensure global reach and achieving the goals set. RDA is only one of the MANY organisations that has a key role in supporting the EOSC and working together in Europe and internationally for the benefit of the EOSC users is our ambition and hope.

While certainly not a policy body, RDA does have some influence on policy aspects in an indirect manner. As a bottom up organisation, with the experts suggesting, designing and developing solutions to overcome many urgent and current research data challenges, the outputs and best practices offer an interesting and emerging overview of the landscape. Furthermore, RDA offers policy makers a platform to interact with researchers and data professionals. e.g. funders forum and meetings at RDA plenary meetings. Naturally, I extended an invitation to the French funders to join the Funders Forum, an independent group of research data funding agencies (public & private) who meet around RDA 6 monthly plenaries to discuss funding and exchange knowledge and information. 

RDA can and certainly will support this national plan in whatever way it can. It already offers the RDA in France national group web space, animated and coordinated by Françoise Genova and Francis Andre from CNRS. To sign up simply login to RDA and join the RDA in France group.

The Journées Nationales de la Science Ouverte were organised by the Comité pour la Science Ouverte (CoSO - Open Science Committee), newly created by the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation (MESRI) in the momentum of the Plan National pour la Science Ouverte. I am grateful to the Ministry and, particulary, Françoise Genova and Francis Andre, for the invitation to present and to have the pportunity to understand the many exciting activities and plans around Open Science in France.

The web cast presentations (including my own) from the 3 day event are available at online
My presentation is available here.

Blog by Hilary Hanahoe, Secretary General Research Data Alliance

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