The need for a coordinated, national, open science policy
29 September 2023
Open Access Australasia is grateful for the opportunity to respond to Australia’s draft National Science and Research Priorities.
The critical part that is missing from the science priorities as written is a policy infrastructure that has a national commitment to open science, including but not limited to open access to research outputs. We urge the government to consider the UNESCO Open Science Recommendation, which Australia is a signatory to, as a model for the development of such a policy.
The four pillars of the UNESCO Recommendation incorporate areas that only the government can meaningfully promote at a national level. These pillars are:
- Open scientific knowledge, including open access to research publications and data.
- Open science infrastructure, virtual or physical, including major scientific equipment and knowledge-based resources such as collections, journals, repositories and open access publication platforms.
- Open engagement of societal actors, including with citizen science.
- Open dialogue with other knowledge systems, especially in Australia with First Nations knowledges.
As noted in our submission to the first consultation, adoption of a national approach to open science, as advocated for by UNESCO, and underpinned by an incentive structure that rewards open science practices, would enable faster access and a more coordinated and collaborative approach to maximizing the availability and utility of publicly-funded research, as well as addressing other challenges in Australia’s science priorities. By developing mechanisms for supporting innovation and experimentation in open access and open science, Australia could be a world leader in new developments in open science, including for example incorporating approaches to artificial intelligence.
Taking action now to support a robust, diverse system of approaches to open access to research and open science would ensure:
- Visibility and interoperability of Australian research in the global publishing system, including Indigenous research.
- Australian-led and owned journals, publishers, and data platforms meeting Australian and international research priorities and reducing reliance on overseas infrastructure.
The Australian Open Science Network, which is co-convened by Open Access Australasia, ARDC and CAUL is well placed to advise on implementation of open science.
UNESCO has developed a guide for policy makers on developing open science policies which highlights national and international bodies that are already basing their policy framework on the UNESCO Recommendation, for example in Europe.
Finally, UNESCO is developing a set of metrics that signatory governments will shortly begin to be benchmarked against internationally. There is an opportunity now to ensure that Australia’s approach is in alignment with international best practice, but this can only come from a national approach.
Open Access Australasia is a membership organisation of 23 Australian university libraries, eight Aotearoa New Zealand university libraries through the Council of New Zealand University Librarians, Creative Commons Australia, Tohatoha Aotearoa Commons, Australian Library and Information Association, Australian Digital Alliance, Wikimedia Australia, the Australian Citizen Science Association and National and State Libraries Australasia. Its mission is to attain open access to research in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand through advocacy, collaboration, awareness, and capacity building across the Australian and New Zealand research sectors.
Contact: Dr Virginia Barbour, Director, Open Access Australasia email@example.com 0432 431 162