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White Paper — Open Science in a Digital Republic

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Scientific and Technical Information Department - CNRS

The future: open digital science

Personal testimonies recorded for the White Paper: Converging principles for an approach to Open Science

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1This section presents a set of proposals aimed at changing the law on scientific and technical information to take into account the needs and practices of the scientific community, secure the uses of public research, and rebalance the protection of the interests of those concerned, all in the higher interest of science.

2These proposals are made on the basis of:

3France must comply with the values and rules emerging in supranational and foreign bodies and legislation, otherwise French science could become marginalised.

4The necessary emergence of this new legal framework for Open Science is based on existing key concepts and legitimate interests that must be preserved.

5The adoption of Article 17 of the Digital Republic Bill resulting from a consensual position that emerged during the Gouv’Camp initiative and the confirmation of Article 18 bis (new) in favour of text and data mining would enable the world of public research to secure its practices. A proposal for the creation of a genuine positive and comprehensive law for Open Science is formulated.

6In order to ensure that the legal provisions can be applied flexibly, particularly in the light of the very different practices implemented by different scientific communities, it has been proposed that reference guidelines on use should be drawn up, together with a standard.

7Furthermore, as agreements for the transfer of rights between authors and publishers are one-sided standard contracts, a model contract for the transfer of copyright providing better protection for the legitimate interests of researchers and the scientific community could be made compulsory.

8Open Science also requires the definition of common ethical rules whose values could be extended internationally and whose application could be guaranteed by an Open Science Agency. Finally, the influence of French science around the world gives France the legitimacy necessary to propose an international convention for universal Open Science.

9Training initiatives will be necessary to support the legislative changes desired.

Personal testimonies recorded for the White Paper: Converging principles for an approach to Open Science

A shared value: Science, a “common good” of humanity

10Historically, science has always been considered a common good; the scientific method itself implies the collective accumulation of knowledge (work in partnership, exchange of information, peer review, etc.). The growing place of information technologies in science to facilitate research, sharing and collaboration has reactivated the notion of “common good” associated with science.

11A shared international position. “Scientific articles have a unique role as products for the common good.” This position was affirmed in a press release by the Conference of University Presidents, the Conférence des Grandes Écoles, the Conference of Directors of French Schools of Engineering and the Couperin Consortium.

  • 1 Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, 22 October 2003, htt (...)

12This universal dimension of scientific knowledge had already been upheld in the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities of 2003. Open access is defined as “a comprehensive source of human knowledge and cultural heritage that has been approved by the scientific community”.1

13The opinion piece entitled “Favorisons la libre diffusion de la culture et des savoirs” (Let’s all agree to facilitate the dissemination of culture and knowledge), published in Le Monde on 10 September 20152 and signed by nearly 1 820 people, reaffirmed that “common assets – or commons – have always benefited from the practices of exchanging and sharing on which scientific production and cultural creation depend”.

14In a motion approved on October 2015, the Conference of University Presidents states “that knowledge is a common good of humanity and that scientific data should be regarded as information of general interest”.3

15Open Science must be given the status of a “universal principle” to allow access to the commons that scientific data really are, for the good of humanity and scientific progress.

The recommendation of the CNRS Scientific Board
“Science is a common good of humanity which cannot be misappropriated by commercial interests.”

16Indeed, open access has a very real impact on progress in research and even in some cases on the protection of public health:

  • the team combating the Ebola virus in Liberia was unable to access certain articles because of their high cost, although this would have enabled them to identify the virus earlier and thus choose suitable measures of prevention and treatment more rapidly. In this case, the private retention of knowledge resulted in a number of deaths; free and immediate access to knowledge is a vital necessity in such cases;

  • The project to sequence the DNA of the entire human genome was possible thanks to large-scale collaboration between researchers from all over the world, and to immediate public dissemination of the research results. The Internet also acts as a catalyst that reduces the time necessary for a study of this magnitude. Open, free and immediate access to scientific results was an indispensable condition for this major scientific achievement.

17Moreover, this change to the existing economic and technological system is necessary in order to:

  • prevent the use of digital platforms centralising research results and data from being governed by commercial law alone;

  • avoid the waste of public money that occurs when research that has already been carried out is duplicated by other institutions;

  • avoid extra costs for research institutes, laboratories and universities.

18Everywhere in the world, positions in favour of science as a common good are being expressed:

  • in Quebec, where the association Science and the Common Good was set up in July 2011 to defend and promote a vision of the sciences as useful for the common good;

  • by the Open Science Federation, which campaigns for Open Science;

  • at the international level, with the Creative Commons organisation launching a project named Science Commons in 2005, which proposed to spread the principles of openness and sharing within the scientific community by establishing the notion of science as a common good and extending the use of Creative Commons licences to include scientific and technical research.4

Science: Driving the economy

19Open Science facilitates research and innovation by allowing the sharing of knowledge, the identification of new research subjects, the production of new knowledge and responses to economic, social and societal issues. It also creates opportunities in terms of the exploitation of new knowledge, with all that this entails for innovation, growth and employment.

20Its role in driving innovation has often been recognised:

  • by UNESCO: open access “promotes global knowledge flow for the benefit of scientific discovery, innovation and socio-economic development”;5

  • for the OECD, “[o]pen science has the potential to enhance the efficiency and quality of research by reducing the costs of data collection, by facilitating the exploitation of dormant or inaccessible data at low cost and by increasing the opportunities for collaboration in research as well as in innovation”. Open Science also helps reduce the divide affecting access to science and strengthen capacity in developing countries;

  • in its “Digital Strategy” document published on 18 June 2015, the French government stated: “The free movement of scientific knowledge and its free exploitation contributes to innovation, encourages collaboration, improves the quality of publications, avoids the duplication of effort, allows the exploitation of the results of previous research and promotes the participation of citizens and civil society.”

21In its contribution, the CNRS Scientific Board emphasises the advantages for researchers of having scientific data and publications in digital format, for easier sharing and searching:

Contribution of the CNRS Scientific Board
“The digitisation of data used by scientists and of their publications enables automated processing, fast transfer, the harmonisation of methods of access and descriptions; all these advantages help bring vast, rich and diverse resources within the reach of researchers, in much shorter time frames.”

  • 6 Self-referral by the COMETS, “The ethical issues of scientific data sharing”, by the Data Sharing G (...)

22The CNRS Ethics Committee has also stressed that:6

[f]acilitating access to and the reuse of these data has thus become a crucial issue for sharing and circulating research results more rapidly.” 

23During the hearings held in preparation for the drafting of this White Paper, the following needs were consistently expressed by the people interviewed:

  • open access to scientific data;

  • the need for peer-reviewing and for new assessment indicators;

  • publishing and the publisher’s embargo period;

  • ease of searching through data;

  • recognition of origin and visibility;

  • respect for legitimate interest (patents, confidentiality);

  • implementing an ethical charter for STI.

24Proposals for a complete change of paradigms have also emerged.

Priority for open access and the sharing of scientific data

25Everyone agrees that it is necessary to have free and massive access to scientific data, in the greater interest of research and its ability to address human, social and economic issues.

26This notion of scientific data includes not only research data but also the results of research, whether published by a scientific publisher or not at all.

INRIA hearing: Claude Kirchner, 15 October 2015
“All scientific data must remain under the control of scientists.”

The recommendation of the CNRS Scientific Board
“Any hindrance to open access to the results of scientific activity (publications, research data, metadata, value-added services) would compromise the development of science.”

27There is a consensus within the scientific communities on the need for open data, the opening up of research data, and open access to scientific publications protected by copyright.

28In addition, researchers mostly access data via platforms for which the technical and legal model is not secure.

29Scope of the data. In order to determine their needs in terms of free access, it is first necessary to define the scope of the data required by researchers as part of the scientific approach and when conducting their research.

30The Digital Republic Bill appears inadequate in this respect.

31The original draft version of the Digital Republic Bill of July 2015 employed the concept of “scientific contributions”. But there is no statutory definition of “contribution”, so it was imprecise and subject to different interpretations.

32The Digital Republic Bill preferred the notion of “Scientific Texts”, a term taken from Article L.112-2 of the French Intellectual Property Code to qualify creative work capable of being protected by copyright: “books, pamphlets and other literary, artistic and scientific works”.

33The text concerns only “Scientific Texts”, where such works can be protected by copyright. This interpretation is confirmed:

  • by reasserting the principle of copyright protection in scientific texts;

  • by a provision limiting the right of researchers to make their texts available in the “latest version of the manuscript accepted by the publisher, excluding the formatting, which is the publisher’s contribution”.

34The Bill limits the possibility of open access to scientific work in “post-prints”.

  • 7 A reminder of the definitions of the different versions, “author’s initial version”' (or pre-print) (...)

INRIA hearing: Claude Kirchner, 15 October 2015
“The ‘author’s accepted version’7 of a scientific article, entirely created by this author up to its transmission to the publisher for publication, must remain free of any restrictions and it should be possible to post it online in whatever form may be chosen by the author (or their institution), in particular in an open archive.
Any embargo period can apply only to the ‘publisher’s version’ in its final form, in order to retain its commercial potential. Such restrictions are acceptable only if the ‘author’s version’ can be freely distributed, and the duration of the embargo should then be set in compliance with international practices.”

35The needs. Researchers have expressed the need to be able to access all the scientific data and results of any research activity financed at least 50% by public funds.

36This need was reaffirmed by the Scientific Board in its recommendation attached to the White Paper.

  • 8 Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic an (...)

37The Communication of the European Commission of 17 July 20128 also states that “many of the publicly funded research results that exist in the form of data are not made widely available for others to verify or build upon, and this makes research investment highly inefficient”.

38It must be possible to put this “Lost Science” financed by public funds, and which has undeniable economic value, to good use and for it to be exploited by public research.

39In addition, the French Research Code defines the following among other missions of public research (Article L.112-1 of the Research Code):

  • sharing and disseminating scientific knowledge”;

  • open access to scientific data”.

+ To carry out their work, researchers need open and free access to all scientific data in digital form:
   - scientific results, including the results published by a scientific publisher;
   - research data in the sense of the data used to establish these results.

40Sharing data. The sharing of knowledge is the vital and historical basis of the scientific approach, and indispensable for research. The digital transition has disrupted the practice by giving access to a growing and comprehensive mass of data, instantaneously and anywhere in the world.

41More than 89% of researchers are ready to share digital resources with the personnel and scientists of other units.

PAP 2, question 25, results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015

PAP 2, question 25, results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015

42The sharing of scientific data extends the scope of knowledge.

+ Researchers have expressed the need to share scientific data.

  • 9 Results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015, page 5.

43Multi-purpose platforms. Scientific data can be accessed and shared from “innovative and user-friendly tools”9 that are simple to use, enabling broad access to knowledge.

44Online platforms such as HAL or ArXiv have been developed. The scientific communities would like to have better information on the services of submission platforms such as HAL, and 70% consider that other open access tools and services need to be developed.

PAP 2, question 30, results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015

PAP 2, question 30, results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015

PAP 2, question 31, results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015

PAP 2, question 31, results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015

45A 72% majority of researchers are in favour of consolidating the existing portals. Gathering data on a single portal helps limit the loss of knowledge and enables scientists to work from documents produced by different disciplines, thus facilitating transdisciplinary research from the corpora of different publishers.

PAP 1, question 4, results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015

PAP 1, question 4, results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015

Broad position in favour of mergers
INSMI and INSHS: a demand for specific resources
Facilitate interdisciplinarity

46In the same way, 91% of researchers are favourable to a Europe-wide or international network of repositories for open access communication.

PAP 2, question 37, results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015

PAP 2, question 37, results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015

47A majority of researchers expressed a technical need for digital tools such as online platforms, enabling access to and the sharing of data and results, at least at the national level.

+ The practice of depositing articles in archives or on platforms in specific fields should be generalised.

48Concerns about the rules governing the use of platforms were also expressed:

  • the need for a definition of what a platform actually is;

  • definition of the scope of the rights of researchers using these platforms;

  • format and interoperability of the data;

  • relevance of metadata.

+ Researchers have expressed the need for:
- a “one-stop shop” for scientific knowledge;
- legal regulation of the platforms.

The numerical assessment of peer-reviewed results and publication metrics

49The notion of assessment refers to two distinct procedures:

  • peer review, i.e. the reading and evaluation of a researcher’s work, usually by two or three experts, before publication in a scientific journal;

  • the procedure for assessing a researcher by a research unit for the purpose of internal promotion or during a recruitment procedure.

50Peer review. Researchers are strongly in favour of this system for the assessment of scientific work before publication in scientific journals. Peer reviewing is generally performed by researchers working in the same field as that of the proposed article. The peers are responsible for judging the scientific quality of the article, and the methodological validity of the demonstration described. Their opinion decides whether the article will then be accepted or rejected, with the final decision lying with the editorial board.

51However, the way this assessment is organised has been criticised, for example in the article Peer review : déontologie et fraudes chez les chercheurs scientifiques” (Peer review: Ethics and fraud among scientific researchers),10 published on 2 February 2014:

  • a preliminary shortlist is usually drawn up by the editorial board of articles to be submitted for peer review;

  • there is often only a single peer-reviewer, who performs the evaluation on a voluntary basis on behalf of the publisher;

  • this peer is often overwhelmed with many requests for assessment and must make a selection of the articles to assess;

  • the result is a significant loss of articles and scientific knowledge;

  • there are risks related to the spread of “article processing charges” for the publication of an author’s article, in particular in terms of quality.

52Assessment. Researchers from the CNRS must submit an activity report and a comprehensive list of their scientific output in view of their assessment by their section(s) and/or an interdisciplinary commission. This is a statutory obligation stipulated by Articles 10, 29 and 49 as amended by Decree No. 83-1260 of 30 December 1983 laying down the statutory provisions common to all officials of public institutions in science and technology.

53Publication is a criterion for the recruitment and promotion of researchers, and the financing of research projects.

  • 11 Opinion of the COMETS, “Ethical problems for the evolving occupations of public research”, 12/2/201 (...)

54However, this quantitative criterion of the number of publications has been criticised, and the CNRS Ethics Committee has issued the following recommendation: “Qualitative assessment by peers must remain the rule”,11 bearing the crucial implication for assessment that publications must actually be read.

55Posting data online and sharing data should be taken into account as part of the assessment of researchers. On this point, the CNRS Ethics Committee recommends that:

    • 12 Self-referral by the COMETS, “The ethical issues of scientific data sharing”, by the Data Sharing G (...)

    The contribution to the work of data sharing must be recognised in assessments and decisions concerning the promotion of researchers. To facilitate this recognition, the COMETS recommends that appropriate indicators be created and that a section on these activities be added in the activity report and the annual activity sheet concerning researchers.”12

+ New criteria for the evaluation of researchers will need to be introduced, and in any event publication in Open Science will need to be taken into account.

56Need for metrics. A need for changes in publication metrics has also been expressed:

    • 13 Results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015, page 5.

    most sections express the “demand for consolidation and a sharing of new data management practices by publishers, together with tools for analysing results, and for innovative publication metrics”.13

PAP 3, question 44, results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015

PAP 3, question 44, results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015

Referencing and the corresponding indicators are mainly useful for assessments
The strategic outlook aspect is mentioned only marginally

PAP 3, question 45, results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015

PAP 3, question 45, results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015

There is a demand from INEE and INC for strategic indicators
This strong overall demand for indicators must however be analysed institute by institute

  • 14 Results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015, page 39.

57It is therefore necessary to “create platforms equipped with tools to calculate publication, data and analysis metrics and develop networking approaches to link platforms and e-infrastructures”.14

Publication and embargo periods

58Open Science is not incompatible with the publication by a publisher of scientific articles – on the contrary, these two modes of dissemination are complementary, with publishers often providing services concerning the data.

59Publication. The publisher, in addition to the peer review, “curates” the article in terms of layout, insertion in a review, posting online and dissemination. The publisher’s work is therefore complementary to the work of posting the article online and the processing of the transdisciplinary and multi-corpus data.

60Furthermore, in countries and disciplines where open access has become an accepted part of the practices of publishers and researchers, there has been no decline in turnover of scientific publishers, which on the contrary gain visibility by providing their articles to scientific communities.

61Embargo periods. Research work involves reading articles, gathering knowledge, and comparing old and recent data. To do this, scientists need instant access to articles published by scientific publishers.

  • 15 Recommendation of the Scientific Board of 25/9/2015: “Scientists must be able to make these data an (...)

62During the hearings as well as in the recommendations of the Scientific Board and the Ethics Committee, researchers unanimously stated that, because science is a common good of humanity, no embargo period should apply.15

63Moreover, the principle of the distinction made in the Bill between “science, technology and medicine” and “human and social sciences” (HSS) for the embargo period has been challenged. A longer embargo period for HSS does not fit with the needs of researchers, as expressed particularly by Maya Bacache-Beauvallet, Françoise Benhamou and Marc Bourreau in a report by the French Institute of Political Studies No. 11 of July 2015.

64This report, entitled Les revues de sciences humaines et sociales en France : libre accès et audience (Human and social science journals in France: Free access and readership) concludes on page 5 that the results of the study “therefore point to the imposition of a relatively short embargo period, compared to the periods discussed in the public debate for HSS studies”.

Hearing at the University of Strasbourg: Paul-Antoine Hervieux, 10 July 2015
“The key factor in science is the immediacy of research. Each data item has a certain life cycle, but the fresher the better. For science to advance, the embargo period should not be an obstacle to the dissemination of results. However, depending on the scientific community concerned and for various reasons (e.g. competition, assessment process under way, etc.), an embargo period may be introduced.”

65However, in order to ensure the transition to Open Science and preserve the economic interests of publishers – especially French publishers – the scientific communities agree in granting publishers an embargo period.

  • 16 Report by the French National Assembly’s Working Group on Rights and Freedoms in the Digital Age, s (...)

66This period of exclusivity must be “long enough to enable digital journals to survive financially, and short enough to significantly broaden the readership able to access the article in its open-access version”.16 

ABES hearing: Jérôme Kalfon, 5 October 2015
“We are leaving behind wishful thinking and returning to reality.”

67The French Digital Council also stressed in its contribution the need for a “short embargo period to allow the publisher a degree of commercial activity”.

68The embargo periods accepted by researchers are the maximum deadlines provided for by the Recommendation of the European Commission (C(2012) 4890):

  • there should be open access to publications arising from publicly funded research as soon as possible, preferably immediately and in any case no later than six months after the date of publication, and twelve months for social sciences and humanities”.

69In any case, the embargo periods cannot be longer than those stipulated by the national legislation of our European neighbours:

  • in Germany: embargo period of 12 months with no distinction between disciplines;

  • in Spain: filing in an institutional archive as early as possible, without exceeding 12 months, with no distinction between disciplines.

70The French National Assembly’s Working Group on Rights and Freedoms in the Digital Age presented a report to Claude Bartolone, President of the National Assembly, on 8 October 2015 with recommendations in favour of open access, including:

  • [m]aking publicly funded scientific publications freely accessible” after “a period of exclusivity of 6 to 12 months”.

71In its revised version following that contribution, the Digital Republic Bill took these arguments into account and returned to reasonable embargo periods of 6 and 12 months.

+ Researchers need access to the latest state of knowledge. If an embargo period can be defined in the framework of a compromise with the publishers, it must not exceed the maximum time limits provided for in the Recommendation of the European Commission (C(2012) 4890) and the deadlines observed in other countries, as otherwise French research runs the risk of marginalisation and discrimination.
The principle of a distinction between the exact sciences and the human and social sciences has been challenged.

Analysis and exploration of corpora of data

72Historic right. Researchers have always analysed and explored data, as an essential part of the scientific approach. Only the tools for observation have changed, with digital tools making it possible to scan a greater volume of information in less time.

73Right of observation. Researchers are agreed that the freedom to explore data is a natural right of observation that must not be restricted. TDM enables the observation of scientific objects in the same way as a microscope does.

Hearing of Jean-Marie Pierrel and Grégory Colcanap, 24 September 2015
“TDM is a right of observation of scientific objects, indispensable for science.”
“IT is just a particular kind of tool for observing data.”

Contribution of the French Digital Council
“TDM is not in itself a new activity.
It just means reading and extracting information and meaning from documents. It is not really so different to gathering information manually, which has been the way research has proceeded since the birth of science.”

74In this framework, researchers need free and open access to digital tools for processing data:

    • 17 Results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015, page 5.

    [a] demand for the consolidation and sharing of new management practices for data and published material, together with tools for analysing results, and innovative tools for calculating publication metrics”;17

    • 18 Results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015, page 35.

    [m]ake tools and services available to facilitate the exploitation of research data”.18

Contribution of the CNRS Scientific Board
“This requirement to make data available extends to added-value services (massive processing such as Big Data, data mining, relationship with metadata, interoperability), which must also be public and open access to avoid any misappropriation.”

Hearing at Pierre and Marie Curie University: Jean Chambaz and Paul Indelicato, 9 June 2015
“Scientific data are constantly evolving, and although data science will never replace the scientific method, data and even more so the reuse of data are at the heart of this new approach.”

75Risks. While this right of observation seems theoretically to be an acquired right, it is currently being questioned:

  • by scientific publishers who sell access;

  • by the many questions and differences of opinion expressed on whether text- and data-mining practices are compatible with copyright and the rights of whoever produces the database.

76Risk of appropriation. The production of value by the use of these data-processing techniques, particularly today with TDM, must not be pre-empted by commercial publishers. However, this commercialisation is already happening through:

  • the way researchers are obliged to use the publisher’s own API to process that publisher’s data;

  • the way that, under the general terms and conditions of use of the API or the subscription contracts, the publisher reserves the right to distribute all the results from the use of TDM techniques, the “TDM output” or “user-generated content”, to third parties.

Hearing at the University of Strasbourg: Paul-Antoine Hervieux, 10 July 2015
“Publishers seek to protect themselves by controlling the possibility of TDM via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), under contractual clauses (Creative Commons licences, restricting the number of ‘searchable’ words).”1

77This appropriation prevents researchers from conducting transdisciplinary searches from the corpora of several publishers, and deprives science of fundamental knowledge and of scientific and added value created in user-generated content.

Hearing at Pierre and Marie Curie University: Jean Chambaz and Paul Indelicato, 9 June 2015
“It is essential that scientists should be able to carry out TDM on scientific data. If this possibility depends on publishers, researchers will be subject to strict controls with no apparent limits.”

  • 19 In 2001, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology presented data exploration as one of the 10 emer (...)

78What is at stake. The right to search and process data is a major issue for science, research and innovation in that it enables scientists to identify new research subjects, produce new knowledge and address economic, social and societal issues. Text and data mining is one of the technical applications of this right to explore data, on which much attention is focused today.19

Hearing at the University of Strasbourg: Paul-Antoine Hervieux, 10 July 2015
“The relationship with publishers is central to the concerns of researchers, particularly as regards TDM. TDM will be the ultimate research tool in the years to come.”

  • 20 Recommendation of the CNRS Scientific Board.

79Exploration rights thus open up enormous opportunities in terms of the exploitation of new knowledge and all that this implies regarding innovation, growth and employment, and there is no reason why economic forces in the sector should not also benefit. “Data mining and similar services play a considerable role in the scientific exploitation of open access data and texts”.20

80The scientific and economic issues are especially sensitive in that TDM is practised around the world and is governed by different standards in different countries, including within Europe (see “Open Science around the world”). If rules authorising TDM practices are not adopted, there is a significant risk that a two-tier research system could arise within the European Union, which would threaten certain research partnerships between France and England, for example.

+ The new Act must assert the right of observation of scientific data by the use of digital search techniques as a universal principle, if French research is not to be penalised.

Digital Intellectual Property and recognition of authorship

81Open Science does not mean that the author need renounce all moral rights to ownership. Researchers want to retain their right to authorship, which is particularly important as the number of citations is part of the assessment criteria for researchers.

82Good practice” for researchers using STI must include citing the name of the author and the article for quotations or in the bibliographies of study reports. Ethical rules could back up these good practices.

+ Authorship is an intangible aspect of an author’s moral rights. It must be strictly respected and strengthened by ethical rules.

The limits of exploitation and Open Science

83Open Science must not hamper the economic aspects of research.

84The provision of scientific data on Open Science platforms must not jeopardise:

  • the exploitation of data, in particular through patents;

  • respect for secrecy and specific provisions, such as restricted access areas;

  • respect for contractual rules of confidentiality.

85The way research data are made available must also be organised to take into account the different practices of different scientific communities.

+ Open Science must protect legitimate interests, including those related to the exploitation of innovations and to the protection of secrets, and adhere to the practices of the different scientific communities.

Towards an ethical charter for digital scientific and technical information (STI)

86The researchers expressed a need for regulation at different levels:

  • at the legal level, in order to make these practices secure;

    • 21 Results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015, page 59.

    at the ethical level, by drawing up a Charter of STI Ethics laying down “[e]thical principles designed to transcend instrumental considerations and affirm the goals of public research in a global context of Open Science”.21

87The Ethics Committee has also argued that “confronted by this dynamic movement of data encouraged by their supervisory authorities and by their community, researchers must:

    • 22 Sharing Publication-Related Data and Materials: Responsibilities of Authorship in the Life Science (...)

    be aware of their individual, deontological22 and ethical responsibilities, with respect to the community to which they belong;

  • abide by the international undertakings of the institutions to which they belong;

    • 23 Self-referral by the COMETS, “The ethical issues of scientific data sharing”, by the Data Sharing G (...)

    participate in the definition of ethical principles specific to their discipline in the field of data sharing and of Big Data in general”.23

Towards a radical change of paradigm?

88More radical proposals have also emerged. Considering that the existing economic model is changing before our eyes, some have proposed moving towards a thorough structural change.

89Model 1. The first proposal is to consider scientific publication as open in principle, devoid of economic rights, immediately accessible, with the author alone retaining authorship rights. Under this model, scientific publishers provide a “labelling” service (peer review), disseminate knowledge and develop other services, and are paid for this.

Hearing: Jérôme Kalfon, 5 October 2015
“Publishers must be paid for the work they perform, on a ‘jobbing’ basis.”
“Scientific knowledge is a special field, a factor of collective enrichment and development, and it must be possible to access it freely with no economic rights.”

90Model 2. The second proposal is based on two fundamental principles:

  • all scientific data must remain under the control of scientists;

  • the services around these data are open to competition.

91According to this model, the concept of data is very wide and covers any article (whether published or not), webpage, communication, blog, video, photo, research data including data measured by sensors, either automated or human numerical simulation, lab book, source code, query, etc.

92These data do not give rise to any property rights and must be freely accessible and freely reusable within the limits of scientific ethics.

93The services developed around data and especially search techniques can be developed by commercial publishers and open to competition, because the data generated by processing will be open access and will enable scientists to verify the results of the studies concerned on the basis of these data.

  • 24 h-index aims to quantify the scientific productivity and impact of a scientist on the basis of the (...)

94However, the requests made to a publisher today are biased by the search algorithm. For example, it is currently impossible to query h-index24 on Google Scholar. In addition to the principle of Internet neutrality, there is a need to assert a right to transparency concerning data.

INRIA hearing: Claude Kirchner, 15 October 2015
“A right to transparency must be affirmed and this right exists only if the researcher is able to check the data; this verification is an essential component of the scientific method.”
“This right to transparency in queries extends to all information covering all the questions raised by researchers (queries, discussions, etc.).”

In sum

95The following diagram summarises the needs of researchers for the use of STI as an analytical tool regarding existing technical, contractual and legal constraints.

Notes

1 Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, 22 October 2003, http://openaccess.inist.fr/?Declaration-de-Berlin-sur-le-Libre

2Favorisons la libre diffusion de la culture et des savoirs”, http://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2015/09/10/favorisons-la-libre-diffusion-de-la-culture-et-des-savoirs_4751847_3232.html

3 http://www.cpu.fr/actualite/les-donnees-de-la-science-un-bien-commun/

4 http://creativecommons.org/science

5 http://www.unesco.org/new/en/communication-and-information/access-to-knowledge/open-access-to-scientific-information/

6 Self-referral by the COMETS, “The ethical issues of scientific data sharing”, by the Data Sharing Group, 12/12/2014.

7 A reminder of the definitions of the different versions, “author’s initial version”' (or pre-print), “author’s accepted version”' (or post-print) and “publisher’s version”' is available in the glossary.

8 Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, A Reinforced European Research Area Partnership for Excellence and Growth, C(2012) 401 of 17 July 2012.

9 Results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015, page 5.

10 http://www.contrepoints.org/2014/02/02/155325-peer-review-deontologie-et-fraude-chez-les-chercheurs-scientifiques

11 Opinion of the COMETS, “Ethical problems for the evolving occupations of public research”, 12/2/2014.

12 Self-referral by the COMETS, “The ethical issues of scientific data sharing”, by the Data Sharing Group, 12/12/2014.

13 Results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015, page 5.

14 Results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015, page 39.

15 Recommendation of the Scientific Board of 25/9/2015: “Scientists must be able to make these data and results available for no fee, in digital form, a priori without any embargo period imposed by publishers.”

16 Report by the French National Assembly’s Working Group on Rights and Freedoms in the Digital Age, submitted on 8 October 2015, page 241.

17 Results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015, page 5.

18 Results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015, page 35.

19 In 2001, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology presented data exploration as one of the 10 emerging technologies that would “change the world in the 21st century”. (Stéphane Tuffery, Data mining et statistique décisionnelle – l’intelligence des données [Data mining and statistics for decision-making], Editions Technip, 2012).

20 Recommendation of the CNRS Scientific Board.

21 Results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015, page 59.

22 Sharing Publication-Related Data and Materials: Responsibilities of Authorship in the Life Sciences”, Committee on Responsibilities of Authorship in the Biological Sciences, National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences.

23 Self-referral by the COMETS, “The ethical issues of scientific data sharing”, by the Data Sharing Group, 12/12/2014.

24 h-index aims to quantify the scientific productivity and impact of a scientist on the basis of the number of citations of his/her publications. Source: Wikipedia.

Table des illustrations

URL http://books.openedition.org/oep/docannexe/image/1645/img-1.png
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Titre PAP 2, question 25, results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015
URL http://books.openedition.org/oep/docannexe/image/1645/img-2.png
Fichier image/png, 158k
Titre PAP 2, question 30, results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015
URL http://books.openedition.org/oep/docannexe/image/1645/img-3.png
Fichier image/png, 170k
Titre PAP 2, question 31, results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015
URL http://books.openedition.org/oep/docannexe/image/1645/img-4.png
Fichier image/png, 161k
Titre PAP 1, question 4, results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015
Légende Broad position in favour of mergersINSMI and INSHS: a demand for specific resourcesFacilitate interdisciplinarity
URL http://books.openedition.org/oep/docannexe/image/1645/img-5.png
Fichier image/png, 140k
Titre PAP 2, question 37, results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015
URL http://books.openedition.org/oep/docannexe/image/1645/img-6.png
Fichier image/png, 160k
Titre PAP 3, question 44, results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015
Légende Referencing and the corresponding indicators are mainly useful for assessmentsThe strategic outlook aspect is mentioned only marginally
URL http://books.openedition.org/oep/docannexe/image/1645/img-7.png
Fichier image/png, 159k
Titre PAP 3, question 45, results of the survey on the uses and needs of STI – CNRS – March 2015
Légende There is a demand from INEE and INC for strategic indicatorsThis strong overall demand for indicators must however be analysed institute by institute
URL http://books.openedition.org/oep/docannexe/image/1645/img-8.png
Fichier image/png, 133k
URL http://books.openedition.org/oep/docannexe/image/1645/img-9.png
Fichier image/png, 61k

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