The Open and Universal Science project- MCAA Magazine February 2023

How can open science practices be valued and rewarded in the evaluation of research and researchers? The EU-funded Open and Universal Science aims to address this central question and develop a series of policies and recommendations for Research Performing Organisations and Research Funding Organisations.

open universal science project
Brian Cahill
Brian Cahill

‘Open Science’ includes all practices that provide open access to research outputs, early and open sharing of research, participation in open peer-review, measures to ensure reproducibility of results, and involving all stakeholders in co-creation. Although the emergence of an open science culture in research was embraced enthusiastically by many early-career researchers, progress towards full open access to research outputs was quite slow. In 2018, a group of research funders launched Plan S, an initiative that aimed to accelerate the transformation of academic publishing by making substantial demands on publishers, researchers and research organisations to ensure full and immediate open access to scientific publications.

As a response, the MCAA, Eurodoc and the Young Academy of Europe issued a Joint Statement on Implementation Guidance for Plan S that offered a general welcome to Plan S and the associated Coalition S framework. Nevertheless, the associations representing early-career researchers expressed concern that “institutions and funders should modernise their researcher evaluation”. The primary objective of the Open and Universal Science (OPUS) project aims to respond to this concern by working on the development and implementation of strategies and policies that reward the practice of open science in the evaluation of research and researchers. The project will recommend best practices to Research Performing Organisations (RPOs) and Research Funding Organisations (RFOs) and other stakeholders. This project is very pertinent at a time when many stakeholders throughout Europe are joining together as part of the Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment (CoARA) to implement assessment primarily on qualitative judgement that avoids irresponsible use of journal- and citation-based metrics.

Developing realistic indicators and metrics

The MCAA is one of 18 partners in the OPUS project that will develop coordination and support measures to reform the assessment of research and researchers towards a system that incentivises and rewards researchers to take up Open Science practices. The 36-month project, with a budget of almost 2 million euros is funded by the Horizon Europe framework and coordinated by the Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands (PLOCAN). As a strong supporter of open science which actively promotes it among its members, researchers and the wider society, the MCAA contributed to the development of the successful proposal.

The project’s focus

OPUS has a specific focus on reforming the research(er) assessment system to incentivise and reward researchers to take up these practices. The project employs a three-tiered approach to ensure representation and consensus building of key stakeholder groups in the Open Science ecosystem:

- The large project consortium consists of researcher organisations, RPOs, RFOs, industry organisations, and experts in project management, public relations, and open science

- A series of stakeholder engagement sessions will be held with the broader community to gather input and validate key project deliverables

- An advisory board of key representatives will ensure expert oversight and links to the community.

The project’s objectives.

The OPUS project has six objectives, namely to:

- Conduct a comprehensive state-of-the-art on existing literature and initiatives for open science

- Develop a comprehensive set of tools to implement open science at RPOs and RFOs

- Develop realistic indicators and metrics to monitor and drive open science at RPOs and RFOs

- Test the interventions and indicators and metrics via action plans in pilots at RPOs and RFOs

- Utilise a stakeholder-driven feedback loop to develop, monitor, refine, and validate actions

- Synthesise outcomes into policy briefs and a revised Open Science Career Assessment Matrix for research(er) career assessment

MCAA’s role

The MCAA will collaborate on assessing the state of the art on open science incentives, metrics, and indicators, as well as in drafting and disseminating policy recommendations. The project has 7 work packages of which the MCAA is taking part in 6. In this project, the MCAA will contribute to drafting and disseminating a revised Open Science Career Assessment Matrix for research(er) career assessment that aims to provide the benchmark process for reforming career assessment of researchers. The project will provide a way for MCAA members to give feedback on researcher career assessment and this is likely to be part of the MCAA Annual Conferences in coming years.

Brian Cahill
MCAA member
TWITTER @b_p_cahill
ORCID 0000-0002-7325-5114

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