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White Paper — Open Science in a Digital Republic — Strategic Guide

Scientific and Technical Information Department - CNRS


Sharing and free analysis of scientific texts and data

Texte intégral

Strategic and operational guidelines …

1The objective of these Study Review and Proposals for implementation is to present all the scientific communities, parliamentarians, scientific publishers and the public in general with practical ways of implementing the new legal provisions introduced by the Digital Republic Act in the field of digital practices for science.

... following Articles 30 and 38 of the Digital Republic Act (the part known as the so-called Petite Loi, or minor bill, resulting from the first reading in the Senate1) …

2These Guidelines report the comments on and analysis of Articles 30 and 38 of the Digital Republic Act, which introduced into French law the legal basis for Open Science by creating:

  • the right for scientific publications to be made available after an embargo period (Article 30);

  • the right to explore and mine data for the purposes of public research via an exception to copyright and to the right of database producers (Article 38).

… following the White Paper Open Science in a Digital Republic …

3These Guidelines are a supplement to the White Paper Open Science in a Digital Republic published in March 2016 by the CNRS on behalf of the ISTEX project, which served as a guiding thread for preparatory debates leading to the passing of the Act.

4This White Paper gave an account of the practices and needs of researchers with regard to the use of scientific and technical information and digital tools. It also presented a comparative analysis of the texts relating to text and data mining (TDM) in other countries. These elements demonstrated the need for public research to introduce new rights into our legal framework.

5It was the result of:

  • a collective undertaking as part of ISTEX (ISTEX, the Excellence Initiative of Scientific and Technical Information, is a project for a digital multi-use platform to the highest international standards, accessible remotely by every scientific community and offering “all the currently available means of consultation and analysis in all scientific communities”2);

  • powerful testimonials from leading figures in the world of research: universities, the League of European Research Universities (LERU), the CNRS Scientific Board, the Bibliographic Agency for Higher Education (ABES), the Couperin Consortium and the University of Lorraine representing the Conference of University Presidents (CPU) as members of the Executive Committee of ISTEX, the Ethics Committee of the CNRS, and the National Digital Council;

  • legal expertise provided by the Cabinet Alain Bensoussan.

  • 3 White Paper Open Science in a Digital Republic, March 2016, p. 11.

6The White Paper called for the following Guidelines:3

Main orientations:

Create: Create a right to Open Science guaranteeing free access and free reuse of data from public research.
• Balance: Redefine the economic balance of the digital science ecosystem.
• Secure: Adopt Article 18b (new) of the Bill for a Digital Republic as suggested by the Joint Commission [new Article 38 of the Petite Loi] creating an exception to copyright and the right of database producers in favour of text and data mining for the results of public research (research articles and data), in order to secure automated data-processing practices and reduce the risk of misappropriation.
• Compete: Enable French public research to acquire legal and technical resources that are at least equivalent to those of its European and American counterparts, and in line with the international Open Science movement.
• Protect: Protect legitimate interests: exploitation, secrecy, patents, copyright, privacy and personal data.

7The Digital Republic Act has transposed into law the majority of the proposals contained in the White Paper, which is welcomed by all the signatories of the White Paper and of these Guidelines.

8To assist with the drafting of the implementing decrees provided for, in particular in Article 38 of the Digital Republic Act, these Guidelines propose a discussion of the notion of text and data mining and the issues it raises, as well as a comparative analysis of existing structures in France and abroad.

… proposing an analysis of the implications of free access to scientific publications …

9Although Article 30 of the Digital Republic Act establishing the principle of free access to scientific publications makes no reference to an implementing decree, there is no reason why details should not be added and a framework for implementation and ethical values affirmed.

… proposing an analysis of the notion of text and data mining and of the corresponding value chain …

10The concept of text and data mining itself covers a range of different real-life applications depending on the chosen analytical viewpoint, whether legal, technical or economic. While TDM implies a researcher, a research subject and tools for automated analysis, other actors are also involved in the value chain:

  • scientific publishers;

  • the authors of scientific publications;

  • researchers, laboratories and research institutes;

  • STI correspondents;

  • the publishers of digital analytical tools;

  • the publishers of submission platforms offering access to scientific data;

  • organisations that host data;

  • start-ups or other companies proposing innovative services.

11All these actors, as well as the new players who will emerge on the margins of TDM, form the complex ecosystem in which scientific data live and breathe. Moreover, the world of digital data analysis is today dominated by large American firms. The development and use of digital analytical tools are opportunities for French public research as it enters the new era of digital science.

… offering a benchmark of the effects of TDM in countries that have legalised the practice …

12These Guidelines provide a benchmark and a comparative analysis of the technical, legal and economic approaches to TDM in the countries that have already legalised the practice, as well as the issues raised by TDM and the levers for fostering it observed in these countries.

13Our approach was to observe foreign practices in order to propose, in the light of French needs and specificities, the ideal legal and organisational framework for implementation.

formulating proposals to provide a framework for implementing the legal provisions relating to Open Science

14These Guidelines formulate proposals to provide a framework for implementing the legal provisions of the Digital Republic Act:

  • a legal framework, by defining the boundaries of the notion of text and data mining and its scope of application;

  • a technical framework, by creating interoperable platforms, involving the definition of standards, allowing access to all scientific and technical information, as well as tools designed for text and data mining or which can be used for this purpose. The ISTEX Platform could pioneer this process;

  • a structural framework, by creating a network of certified “digital data curators”, whose mission would be to preserve the files produced on completion of research activities and to organise their availability;

  • an ethical framework, by defining good practices for the use of TDM in scientific research;

  • this legal, ethical, organisational and structural framework could be headed by a National Agency for Open Science responsible for the governance of STI and guaranteeing its efficiency.


1 Text of the Petite Loi for a Digital Republic:


3 White Paper Open Science in a Digital Republic, March 2016, p. 11.

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