28 Mar 2019   |   Network update from University of Pisa
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Reflections on frontier research and open science at the University of Pisa


Is there a good way to open science? On 19 March leading representatives of Italian and international research institutions and scientific publishers met in Pisa in an event organized by the University of Pisa in collaboration with Science|Business and ERC=Science², an EU-funded campaign aiming to promote the research funded by the European Research Council (ERC).

Open Science is an extraordinarily important issue. Thanks to a group of national research funding organisations, with the support of the European Commission and the ERC, from the 1 January 2020 the European Commission will ask grant holders to publish their research only in journals that offer immediate open access, and under a licence that enables anyone to freely reuse and distribute the material the scientific publications and research data to be immediately available, free of charge and indefinitely reusable.

The event has gathered reflections on how frontier research could benefit from an open approach, looking at opportunities and risks. The ERC Vice President Fabio Zwirner has opened the floor with a keynote speech, presenting the ERC’s views on open science. “ERC is a model for improvements of national research systems, both in their approach to scientific funding and to Open Access policies”. In fact, some national systems have implemented similar approaches for funding (based on scientific independence, no thematic priorities) and ERC has supported OA since 2006 until the support to the ongoing initiative PlanS, also having a dedicated Working Group on Open Access. The Vice Rector for European and International Research of the University of Pisa Lisandro Benedetti-Cecchi has recall some researchers’ scepticism towards Plan S, not for the principles it sets, but because of its timeline and the possible lack of quality of published papers. “It should be of utmost importance to avoid a long transition phase. It is also essential that the new Open model does not undermine the rigour in the process of evaluating the publication of the results of science. Publishing a scientific article is not the same as publishing thoughts on a blog. The credibility of science itself depends on clear criteria that allow demarcating myths from reality”.

Representatives of Open Access publishers Michael Markie (F1000) and Frederick Fenter (Frontiers) have stressed the prominent role and responsibility of research organisation and publisher to accelerate the shift to Open Science. “To speed up science making it reusable will move us to more innovative research. Datasets behind the article are a key part of the publication, publisher should push towards it”. Claudio Colaiacomo (Elsevier) has underlined that “Elsevier is the biggest open access publisher, with over 200 fully open access journals and over 2,000 with open access options. To the question Open access vs. subscription model? He replied “Yes, they exclude each other. Nobody knows how the future will look like, as for now we need to stay alive in the capitalistic system”.

Thus, to Open or not open? This is not the question. The way forward is quite clear for all stakeholders, while the implementation timeline comes with uncertainties.

This release was first published 28 March 2019 by the University of Pisa. 

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