Open Science News

1st Symposium of Research Infrastructures
1st Symposium of Research Infrastructures 1024 436 Open and Universal Science (OPUS) Project

We are thrilled to extend a warm invitation to all business enthusiasts, researchers, and stakeholders to participate in RICH Europe’s inaugural Symposium of Research Infrastructures. Scheduled for May 7th, 2024, in the vibrant city of Madrid, Spain, this landmark event promises to be an enlightening and collaborative gathering.

Symposium Highlights:

The Symposium serves as a pivotal platform to underscore Horizon Europe’s unwavering support for Open Science and its pivotal role in fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation. Amidst the backdrop of Madrid’s dynamic landscape, participants will delve into discussions centered on broader access to Research Infrastructures (RIs) and their significant contributions to the green and digital transition sweeping across Europe.

Key Agenda Items:

The Symposium’s agenda boasts an array of thought-provoking sessions, including keynote addresses, panel discussions, and networking opportunities. Here’s a glimpse of what to expect:

  • Welcoming words from Marina Pollán, Director General of ISCIII, and Daniele Gizzi, RICH Europe Coordinator.
  • Insightful keynote address by Patricia Postigo, Policy officer at the European Commission, highlighting Research Infrastructures and the European Open Science Cloud’s contribution to ERA Implementation.
  • Engaging sessions exploring how Research Infrastructures can benefit from the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) in the implementation of open science practices.
  • Discussions on Open Science practices within the Research Infrastructure framework, experiences learned, and feedback to Open Science policies.
  • Examination of how Research Infrastructures can contribute to the European Research Area, with a focus on sustainability, accessibility, and interaction with stakeholders.

Registration Details:

Interested participants can secure their spot by completing the registration form available at The Symposium will take place at the Institute of Health Carlos III (ISCIII), located at Av. Monforte de Lemos, 5, Pavilion 13, Ernest Lluch Auditorium, in Madrid, Spain.

Mark Your Calendars:

Date: May 7th, 2024 Time: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM (CEST)

Networking Opportunity:

Don’t miss the chance to network and connect with fellow participants during the networking cocktail scheduled from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM, where fruitful conversations and collaborations await.

Join the Conversation:

We invite you to join us at RICH Europe’s Symposium of Research Infrastructures, where your insights and contributions will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of European science. Together, let’s embark on a journey of discovery, collaboration, and innovation.

For more information and updates, visit RICH Europe’s website.

Structure Peer Review to Make it More Robust
Structure Peer Review to Make it More Robust 1024 576 Open and Universal Science (OPUS) Project

To bolster the robustness of peer review, it’s essential to introduce a structured framework ensuring consistency and thoroughness across manuscript assessments. This framework involves transparently posing a defined set of questions to reviewers, primarily focusing on methodological, analytical, and interpretive aspects of the submitted work.

Editors should furnish reviewers with these specific queries, prompting considerations such as the adequacy of method descriptions for reproducibility, the necessity of supplementary statistical analyses, and the alignment of authors’ interpretations with data and methodology. Constructive criticism should be provided where deficiencies are identified, and reviewers should declare any areas where their expertise might be lacking.

This structured approach allows for fair and comprehensive evaluations while alleviating reviewers from evaluating aspects such as novelty, impact, and linguistic quality, which can be handled by editorial staff or automated systems, thus optimizing reviewer workload.

Publishing the predetermined set of review questions on journal websites empowers authors to tailor their submissions accordingly. Moreover, full disclosure of review reports enables transparency and facilitates the study of peer-review practices, enhancing accountability and trustworthiness within the scientific community.

Demonstrating the efficacy of structured peer review, ongoing collaborations with publishers like Elsevier have shown promising results in achieving greater reviewer consensus and agreement on manuscript evaluation.

Encouragingly, more journals are adopting structured review practices, with some already implementing tailored sets of questions for specific study types. However, standardization remains a challenge, as differing journal standards can lead to inconsistent reviewer assessments.

It’s imperative to recognize the necessity for uniform quality control across scientific literature, akin to other industries’ safety standards. This entails adopting standardized review processes to ensure public confidence in research integrity and reliability.

Moving forward, the vision is for universal adoption of a common set of review questions across journals, coupled with full transparency in review reports. Such a unified approach is essential for advancing scientific progress and maintaining the integrity of scholarly discourse.

By Mario Malički

Photo via Aparna Nambiar

Researchers Need Open Bibliographic Databases
Researchers Need Open Bibliographic Databases 1024 677 Open and Universal Science (OPUS) Project

When universities deliberate over whom to hire, promote, or fund, they often go beyond just reviewing application materials. Many turn to databases that compile publication details, including authors, affiliations, citations, and funding sources. These databases generate metrics to gauge a researcher’s productivity and the quality of their work.

Prominent databases like Web of Science and Scopus offer access to such data for a fee, supporting various metrics, university rankings, and journal impact factors. However, a recent declaration, signed by over 30 research and funding organizations, advocates for platforms that are free, transparent in their methods, and unrestricted in data usage.

The Barcelona Declaration on Open Research Information emphasizes the importance of addressing the limitations of closed research information in an era increasingly reliant on indicators and analytics in scientific decision-making. Signatories include notable funders like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and academic institutions like Sorbonne University, which has transitioned to the open platform OpenAlex.

The declaration aims to foster broader access to research information, especially beyond English-language journals, promoting the circulation of scientific knowledge produced in diverse languages and regions. Elizabeth Gadd, an expert in scholarly communications, sees the declaration as a significant step towards aligning organizational commitments with open research practices.

To facilitate this transition, the declaration proposes the establishment of a Coalition for Open Research Information, intended to coordinate efforts and share expertise among organizations. While establishing and maintaining research databases pose challenges, alternatives like PubMed, Crossref, and OpenAlex offer promising avenues.

However, concerns about data quality persist, with some experts noting errors in assignments and information retrieval. Despite this, initiatives like OpenAlex are rapidly evolving, with community input driving improvements.

Commercial database providers like Clarivate and Elsevier express support for open initiatives while highlighting the need for diverse perspectives in addressing research challenges. They suggest a shift towards monetizing services rather than data itself, acknowledging the evolving landscape of research information access.

In this evolving landscape, both proprietary and open databases have roles to play, with opportunities for collaboration and innovation. While transitioning to open models may take time, it represents a significant stride towards democratizing access to research information.

Article from

Barcelona Declaration on Open Research Information
Barcelona Declaration on Open Research Information 680 680 Open and Universal Science (OPUS) Project

In the intricate tapestry of modern research, information serves as the backbone, guiding decisions, shaping priorities, and fueling innovation. However, a significant portion of this vital information remains confined within closed infrastructures, inaccessible to many stakeholders. The Barcelona Declaration on Open Research Information emerges as a clarion call for change, advocating for a fundamental shift towards openness and transparency in research practices.

The Preamble: Recognizing the Imperative for Change

The preamble of the Barcelona Declaration eloquently articulates the current state of affairs in research information management. It acknowledges the pivotal role information plays in steering the research enterprise, from assessing researchers and institutions to informing strategic decisions. Yet, it highlights the paradox of reliance on closed infrastructures, controlled by entities with primary accountability to shareholders rather than the research community. This acknowledgment sets the stage for the transformative vision laid out in the declaration.

A Vision for Openness: Commitments for Change

The heart of the Barcelona Declaration lies in its commitments to usher in a new era of openness in research information. It outlines four key commitments aimed at making openness the default mode for both the utilization and production of research information. From embracing open scholarly infrastructures to ensuring their sustainability, signatories pledge to catalyze the transition from closed to open research information through collective action and collaboration.

Breaking Down Barriers: Confronting the Challenges of Closed Systems

Closed research information infrastructures pose formidable barriers to transparency and reproducibility, perpetuating opaque decision-making processes. The declaration underscores the urgent need for openness to enable informed debates and accountable decision-making. By advocating for the use of persistent identifiers and fostering a culture of accessibility and integrity, the declaration seeks to dismantle these barriers and usher in a new era of openness.

A Global Movement: Mobilizing Stakeholders for Change

The momentum for openness in research information is palpable, with support growing across international, regional, and local fronts. From global initiatives like DORA and the Leiden Manifesto to regional movements advocating for inclusivity, stakeholders are uniting behind the call for change. Organizations such as SPARC and CoARA are spearheading efforts to reshape research assessment paradigms, emphasizing independence and transparency.

Towards a Tipping Point: Realizing the Vision of Openness

As the academic community marches towards a tipping point in the transition to open research information, the Barcelona Declaration serves as a rallying cry for action. It calls upon research organizations, funders, and evaluators to join forces in realizing this vision of openness. By embracing the principles laid out in the declaration, stakeholders can pave the way for a more equitable, transparent, and impactful research ecosystem.

In the journey towards open research information, the Barcelona Declaration stands as push forward, illuminating the path towards a future where knowledge knows no bounds.

Find out more about Barcelona Declaration.

The Benefits of Open Science are Not Inevitable
The Benefits of Open Science are Not Inevitable 806 746 Open and Universal Science (OPUS) Project

Open Science (OS) has emerged as a pivotal policy focus and a transformative paradigm for scientific research. However, as the momentum behind OS grows, so does the need for comprehensive monitoring frameworks that align with the values driving this shift. Ismael Rafols, Ingeborg Meijer, and Jordi Molas-Gallart advocate for a nuanced approach to monitoring OS, one that goes beyond simplistic metrics to capture the diverse array of practices and their impacts.

Amidst a flurry of policies and investments, monitoring OS progress has become a priority at both European and national levels. Initiatives such as OS monitors in France and Finland, along with projects by the European Commission and UNESCO, underscore the global commitment to advancing OS principles. Yet, monitoring OS presents unique challenges due to its multifaceted nature, encompassing everything from open access publishing to citizen engagement.

Rafols and his colleagues argue that traditional metrics fail to capture the essence of OS, which transcends mere quantification. Instead, monitoring efforts should focus on understanding the trajectories of OS development, including who adopts OS practices and what effects they have. This necessitates a shift from assessing the quantity of OS to examining its quality and diversity.

Drawing parallels with the evolution of science policy models, the authors propose a new monitoring framework aligned with the principles of transformative innovation. Learning, directionality, and outcomes emerge as key pillars of this framework, emphasizing the need for continuous reflection, understanding of trajectories, and assessment of real-world impacts.

In practice, this means adopting a formative approach to monitoring that fosters strategic decision-making and embraces epistemic diversity. Rather than fixating on a narrow set of indicators, monitoring should be pluralistic and adaptable to different contexts. By capturing the trajectories of OS across various dimensions, from open access to open data, monitoring can provide insights into the implications of different approaches.

Furthermore, monitoring should extend beyond outputs to encompass outcomes, examining not just what is being done to support OS, but how it is being used and its broader societal effects. Interviews and surveys play a crucial role in understanding the nuanced ways in which OS is shaping research practices and outcomes.

Ultimately, the goal of monitoring OS is not merely to assess its prevalence but to ensure that it aligns with its ideals of inclusivity and sustainability. By adopting a reflective learning approach, monitoring can guide OS activities towards transformative outcomes that benefit society as a whole.

As OS continues to reshape the scientific landscape, informed monitoring will be essential in realizing its full potential and realizing a future where science truly serves as a global public good.

Article from LSE Blog.

Photo via OpenAire (based on Eva Méndez).

Questionable Research Practices
Questionable Research Practices 800 500 Open and Universal Science (OPUS) Project

Research, a fundamental human endeavor, is susceptible to errors and lapses in judgment. Despite the emphasis on the robustness of research methods, the competitive nature of academia sometimes leads researchers to engage in questionable practices to gain an edge in funding, jobs, or prestige. While research misconduct typically involves clear breaches like data manipulation, fabrication, or plagiarism, it’s essential to recognize a broader spectrum of Questionable Research Practices (QRPs) that can compromise the integrity of scientific inquiry.

Rather than viewing QRPs as a distinct category from misconduct, it’s more constructive to see them as behaviors ranging along a spectrum from inadvertent mistakes to deliberate malfeasance. This perspective acknowledges that anyone involved in research can, at times, veer into questionable territory. It underscores the collective responsibility of the research community to identify and address QRPs to uphold research integrity.

The spectrum concept elucidates how seemingly innocuous missteps can escalate into serious misconduct. Minor errors, if unchecked, may culminate in attempts to conceal mistakes, leading to fraud or even criminal behavior. Recognizing this progression informs strategies to mitigate QRPs’ impact. Adherence to rigorous methodologies, proficiency in statistical analysis, and transparent data sharing emerge as crucial safeguards against QRPs’ encroachment.

Moreover, understanding the causes of QRPs informs preventative measures. Time constraints may predispose researchers to honest errors, necessitating meticulous methodological adherence. Financial pressures, on the other hand, heighten the risk of more egregious misconduct, necessitating vigilant oversight. By acknowledging QRPs as a continuum, researchers and stakeholders are reminded of the perpetual vigilance required to safeguard research quality.

Addressing QRPs isn’t merely about policing individual transgressions but embodies a collective commitment to fostering a culture of research integrity. By promoting transparency, accountability, and adherence to ethical standards, the research community upholds its commitment to producing reliable and trustworthy knowledge.

This article, distributed under a Creative Commons license, underscores the importance of confronting QRPs as a fundamental aspect of promoting research integrity. Acknowledgments extend to colleagues for their contributions to this discourse.


Photo via Simon Kolstoe

15 Million Euro Support for Researchers and Open Science
15 Million Euro Support for Researchers and Open Science 492 691 Open and Universal Science (OPUS) Project

In a significant move towards advancing open science initiatives, Open Science NL has earmarked a substantial sum of 15 million euros for bolstering Local and Thematic Digital Competence Centres (LDCCs and TDCCs). Collaborating with the Netherlands eScience Center, this initiative aims to enhance research software training offerings and invest in research data interoperability expertise.

The decision to allocate these funds stems from the recognition of certain gaps in the current landscape of digital competence centers. While significant progress has been made in augmenting professional capacity for working with research software and data, two critical areas remain under-addressed: research software training and data interoperability.

With research increasingly reliant on computational methods, the need for researchers proficient in digital and computational expertise has become paramount. However, many researchers lack formal training in software development and management, despite their proficiency in their respective fields of research. Consequently, there is a pressing demand for training programs tailored to equip researchers with essential digital skills.

Furthermore, although tools for data sharing and repository creation have proliferated, attention to interoperability aspects lags behind. The absence of comprehensive interoperability compromises the reusability of research data, hindering integration with other data sets and workflows for analysis and processing.

In response to these challenges, Open Science NL’s funding program aims to expand the capacity of LDCCs and TDCCs in two key areas: research software training and ontology/metadata expertise for research data. The program will support the establishment of a national network to facilitate the training of researchers and research support staff in open research software.

The funding program outlines specific points to be covered:

  1. LDCCs: Each LDCC can apply for up to 0.5 Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) trainer capacity per year for open source software skills and up to 0.5 FTE per year for community manager capacity focused on research data interoperability. This will facilitate collaboration with metadata and ontology experts within TDCCs to enhance interoperability aspects of research data.
  2. TDCCs: TDCCs can apply to increase their capacity in domain-specific metadata and ontologies, with a maximum of 2 FTE per year. This will aid in the implementation of domain-specific standards and tools, fostering international alignment and collaboration.
  3. Netherlands eScience Center: The center can apply to appoint up to 1 FTE community management capacity per year to establish a national network of software trainers. This program will include train-the-trainer activities and collaboration on open training material development.

This funding opportunity, although non-competitive, is subject to quality assessment and spans a four-year period. Eligible parties have been invited to submit proposals, marking a significant step forward in advancing open science initiatives and fostering digital competence in research communities.

Find more information here.

MSCA Financial Guide Published
MSCA Financial Guide Published 680 680 Open and Universal Science (OPUS) Project

The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) stand as a beacon of opportunity for researchers across Europe, offering avenues for training, innovation, and collaboration. With its varied programs tailored to different career stages, MSCA has become instrumental in fostering a vibrant research landscape. In this guide, we delve into the intricacies of MSCA grants, shedding light on their implementation and the roles of various participants.

1. Introduction: MSCA Grants

MSCA encompasses four main types of actions, each designed to cater to specific objectives:

  • Doctoral Networks (DN): Multi-beneficiary actions aimed at nurturing innovative doctoral candidates and enhancing doctoral training excellence in Europe.
  • Postdoctoral Fellowships (PF): Mono-beneficiary actions focused on empowering researchers with PhDs to acquire advanced skills through international and interdisciplinary mobility.
  • Staff Exchanges (SE): Multi-beneficiary initiatives fostering international collaboration and knowledge exchange across research and innovation domains.
  • COFUND: Mono-beneficiary actions facilitating the co-financing of doctoral and postdoctoral programs at various levels to promote best practices in research training and mobility.

Managed by the European Research Executive Agency (REA), these actions operate under the Horizon Europe Unit Grants Model Grant Agreement (HE Unit MGA), streamlining funding mechanisms to prioritize research outputs and minimize administrative burdens.

2. Categories of Participants

MSCA projects engage diverse entities, each contributing uniquely to project implementation:

  • Beneficiaries: Responsible for project execution, including recruitment, supervision of researchers, and program management.
  • Associated Partners: Collaborators involved in project implementation without signing the grant agreement, contributing to tasks outlined in project proposals.
  • Implementing Partners (specific to COFUND): Organizations receiving financial support from COFUND beneficiaries to execute doctoral or postdoctoral programs.
  • Researchers/Staff: Individuals driving research activities, spanning all career stages and research domains.

3. Recruitment of Researchers and Secondment of Staff

MSCA actions prioritize researcher training, mobility, and career development, with specific guidelines tailored to each action:

  • MSCA Doctoral Networks: Emphasize objective recruitment procedures and fair working conditions for researchers, with requirements for full-time employment contracts or equivalent arrangements.
  • Part-time employment: Permitted under specific circumstances, such as personal or family reasons, subject to prior approval.

Building Bridges

The MSCA grants pave the way for groundbreaking research, fostering a dynamic ecosystem of collaboration, innovation, and knowledge exchange. By understanding the intricacies of these grants and the roles of different participants, researchers can unlock a world of opportunities to propel their careers and contribute to the advancement of science and society.

More info can be found here.

CoARA Webinar on Action Plans
CoARA Webinar on Action Plans 680 680 Open and Universal Science (OPUS) Project

In July 2022, the Agreement on Reforming Research Assessment (ARRA) was unveiled, establishing a unified framework and principles aimed at revolutionizing the evaluation of research, researchers, and research organizations. As dedicated advocates for transformative change in the landscape of research assessment, signatories of ARRA have pledged not only to champion this cause but also to actively spearhead the implementation of ARRA’s core commitments within their respective institutions.

Following the signing of ARRA, signatories are tasked with crafting Action Plans, delineating specific milestones that detail the strategies for reviewing and advancing their assessment criteria, tools, and processes. These Action Plans are pivotal in ensuring the effective execution of ARRA’s objectives within the stipulated timeframe.

To guide signatories through this crucial phase and to facilitate a robust exchange of insights and best practices, CoARA is delighted to extend an invitation to all signatories and prospective signatories to join us for an enlightening webinar.

Event Details:

  • Date: Monday, April 29th
  • Time: 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM (CEST)
  • Platform: Zoom

During this webinar, participants will have the opportunity to:

  1. Gain insights into the intricacies of designing Action Plans tailored to their institution’s mission and aligned with the commitments of ARRA.
  2. Explore real-life examples and reflections from early adopters to glean inspiration and best practices.
  3. Engage in interactive sessions aimed at fostering dialogue, sharing experiences, and addressing pertinent questions.


  1. Welcome: Dr. Erzsebet Toth-Czifra, CoARA Secretariat
  2. Action Plans: A Roadmap for Signatories to Implement the Agreement – Dr. Karen Stroobants, CoARA Vice Chair
  3. Showcasing Action Plans and Lessons Learnt: University of Rijeka – Prof. Saša Zelenika
  4. Showcasing Action Plans and Lessons Learnt: University of Strathclyde – Dr. Grace Murkett
  5. Reflections on the First Wave of Action Plans: Dr. Erzsebet Toth-Czifra, CoARA Secretariat / Dr. Laurence El Khouri, CNRS
  6. Question and Answer Session

We cordially invite you to register for this webinar by clicking here.

Join to embark on this transformative journey towards reshaping research assessment practices for a more equitable and impactful future.

The British Library Hack is a Warning for All Academic Libraries
The British Library Hack is a Warning for All Academic Libraries 1024 496 Open and Universal Science (OPUS) Project

In a recent cyber incident report released by the British Library, the organization sheds light on the vulnerabilities that led to a devastating ransomware attack by the notorious group Rhysida. Simon Bowie, an expert in the field, argues that this breach underscores the consequences of under-resourced technical teams and the widespread outsourcing of critical infrastructure.

The attack, orchestrated by Rhysida, resulted in significant downtime for many of the British Library’s essential systems, with some remaining inaccessible for months. Additionally, personal data belonging to employees was auctioned off on Rhysida’s dark web platform, exacerbating the fallout from the breach. Despite ongoing efforts to recover, the incident has prompted reflections on the management failures and the undervaluation of technical expertise within the library’s operations—a narrative that resonates across higher education institutions in the UK.

The British Library’s cyber incident review paper identifies several underlying issues that contributed to the breach. Outdated legacy systems, lacking adequate security measures, and an overly complex technological landscape left the institution vulnerable to attack. Furthermore, the absence of multi-factor authentication compounded these vulnerabilities, revealing systemic management deficiencies.

Notably, the report hints at a broader management problem—a shortage of investment in internal technical capabilities. The strain on the IT department, exacerbated by staff shortages and the loss of expertise due to employee turnover, suggests a reliance on outsourcing as a stopgap measure. While the paper does not explicitly state this, it implies that the library’s decision to outsource critical technology functions left it susceptible to exploitation.

The trend of outsourcing is not unique to the British Library but reflects a broader pattern within UK higher education institutions. As budgets dwindle and managerial priorities shift, libraries have increasingly turned to third-party vendors to manage their systems and infrastructure. This divestment in internal expertise, coupled with a pursuit of transient technological trends, has left libraries vulnerable to cyber threats.

Marshall Breeding’s Library Technology Guides corroborates this trend, illustrating how the majority of UK higher education providers outsource their library systems to corporate vendors. The dominance of companies like Ex Libris highlights the financial and strategic implications of this approach, often at the expense of fostering internal technical capabilities.

Bowie argues that this institutional devaluation of technical skills not only consolidates the power of corporate suppliers but also reflects a broader trend of generic management prioritized over specialized domain knowledge. The consequences of this approach were evident in the British Library’s reliance on cloud-based administrative systems, neglecting critical library management functions vulnerable to attack.

The aftermath of the 2023 British Library cyber-attack serves as a cautionary tale for cultural and heritage organizations nationwide. Instead of perpetuating the cycle of outsourcing and dependency on external vendors, Bowie advocates for a renewed focus on investing in internal expertise. By prioritizing the development of resilient IT infrastructures and bolstering library systems with dedicated technical teams, higher education institutions can mitigate the risks posed by cyber threats and safeguard their invaluable resources for generations to come.

Source: LSE Blog

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