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

Scientific and Technical Information Department - CNRS

Proposals for applying the act

Roadmap for the implementing decree for Article 38

Texte intégral

Statement of the principles of Open Science

1The Research Code lays down an institutional framework for the organisations that participate in scientific research in France, but there is no text defining the principles or values of the scientific community.

2A specific body of law for science, established by consensus among scientists on public research, would involve incorporating the values of the scientific communities such as:

  • knowledge sharing;

  • open access to scientific data;

  • open processing of scientific data.

3A text establishing the principles for Open Science would enable France to be a pioneer in this field.

4This implementing decree could state these values in its Article 1 and propose definitions in Article 2 of the core terms used in the sector, including concepts such as:

  • text and data exploration and mining;

  • which versions of manuscripts may be subject to an embargo period;

  • the scope of the notion of “text and data included in or associated with scientific texts”.

The creation of “networked science”

5The decree could establish the principle of a network architecture connecting digital data curation entities within each scientific discipline.

6These digital data curation entities could be subject to an accreditation procedure.

7They would be responsible for collecting, curating and providing access to scientific data, for ensuring the security of their information systems, and for ensuring compliance with the standards and interoperability framework necessary for network communications.

A model contract for the transfer of copyright between authors and publishers

8In order to guarantee the rights of researchers regarding their published material and to mitigate the risks of contractual asymmetry, the implementing decree could lay down a model contract for transferring copyright for use in public research.

9This contract would lay down the rules governing the relationship between the parties and protect researchers in their relationship with publishers. It would in particular ensure that there was no exclusive transfer, and guarantee the rights of researchers to:

  • authorise the immediate depositing and reproduction in open archives of the publication in the author’s version, and in the publisher’s version after expiry of an embargo period;

  • allow the immediate exploration of the content of the article using digital data-processing tools;

  • prevent all forms of private retention or appropriation of ownership concerning the content of the article.

10This contract could be promulgated by decree and thus have a regulatory status that could be imposed on publishers for any scientific publication resulting from public research.

Creating an interoperability framework and standards

11The implementing decree could state the principle of an interoperability framework specific to scientific data.

12To set up networks between digital data curation entities within scientific disciplines requires communication between their information systems and compliance with data formats and standards.

An Ethics Charter for digital science

13The CNRS Ethics Committee, supported by the CNRS Scientific Board, is in favour of the introduction of an Ethics Charter for digital science. This charter would define the values associated with accessing and sharing scientific data, as well as good practice for researchers, such as:

  • depositing scientific data on Open Science platforms;

  • ensuring that authorship is clearly mentioned.

14An ethics committee would guarantee that this charter is respected, in particular by:

  • ensuring that its content is disseminated and understood;

    • 1 Opinion issued by COMETS, “The ethical issues of scientific data sharing”, 7 June 2015.

    ensuring that researchers are aware of the importance of ethics: “Researchers and all personnel involved in research must be trained to understand the ethical dimensions of data management, in particular in respect of privacy, intellectual property, and the quality and integrity of data. They must be informed as to the current status and evolution of the legal rules concerning responsible sharing of data used;”1

  • issuing opinions with recommendations to clarify the good practice guidelines laid down in the charter.

Creation of a national agency for Open Science

15The decree could provide for the creation of a national agency for Open Science, as a forum for different points of view, with responsibility for securing and monitoring practices, and expressing the opinions of the actors of Open Science.

16Among its principal roles it would:

  • enforce compliance with the principles and values of Open Science;

  • ensure observance of the ethical rules defined in the Ethics Charter;

  • administer the network of digital data curation entities;

  • create an interoperability framework for data, setting standards and data formats;

  • establish the accreditation procedure for digital data curation entities;

  • draft a good practice guide;

  • maintain a catalogue of data;

  • monitor the training of researchers;

  • track technical developments and changing practices, and also manage the good practice guidelines;

  • play an advisory role;

  • propose changes to the existing legal framework in the light of the evolution of practices and needs.

17The agency could also be responsible for writing a report on the impact of the principle of free access to scientific data on the scientific publishing market and on the circulation of ideas and scientific data.

18France could very well propose an international convention for universal Open Science.

Creation of a European agency for Open Science

19A European agency for Open Science could be created in line with the spirit of Article 3 of the proposed Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market introducing an exception to copyright and to the right of database producers.

20The French agency could serve as a model for a European version, and France could be at the origin of this initiative.

21After all, the problems facing Open Science are universal and call for a harmonised approach to the values of sharing and access to knowledge, at least at EU level.

22Such a European agency could also be the vehicle of a discourse addressed to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), for example.


1 Opinion issued by COMETS, “The ethical issues of scientific data sharing”, 7 June 2015.

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