Regieorgaan SIA responds to open consultation National Programme Open Science

The National Programme Open Science brings together national stakeholders in the Netherlands. The aim of the NPOS is to coordinate the transition to Open Science and to disseminate its importance. In 2021 NPOS organised an online Open Consultation to give all Netherlands stakeholders the opportunity to reflect on the NPOS2030 Ambition Document, which forms the first chapters of the new NPOS2030 Programme Description.

Regieorgaan SIA strongly supports both the development of a National Programme Open Science and the open development process. We were very happy to respond to the open consultation. It was our pleasure to discuss the draft programme with colleagues and stakeholders in the field, and to formulate our response. This is a summary of our analysis and suggestions.

1. We wholeheartedly support the objectives and guiding principles

The shared objective of Open Science is to advance science, innovation and knowledge through a practice of openness, sharing, collaboration and co-creation. The NPOS Programme will facilitate all national stakeholders to collaborate in realising Open Science.

The mandate of the Taskforce for Applied Research SIA, or Regieorgaan SIA for short, is to improve the quality and widen the impact of the applied research done by universities of applied sciences (hogescholen) in the Netherlands. We do this by funding research and facilitating collaboration between universities of applied sciences, industry and public bodies. Knowledge circulation and co-creation is at the heart of this practice oriented research.

As such, the shared objective of Open Science is very much at the core of the work of SIA and of universities of applied science. We wholeheartedly support both this objective and the objective of the NPOS stated above. We strongly support the spirit of Open Science and the UNESCO definition as included in the NPOS 2030 Ambition Document:

Open Science is defined by UNESCO (2021) as an inclusive construct that combines various movements and practices aiming:

  • to make multilingual scientific knowledge openly available, accessible and reusable for everyone;
  • to increase scientific collaborations and sharing of information for the benefits of science and society;
  • and to open the processes of scientific knowledge creation, evaluation and communication to societal actors beyond the traditional scientific community.

2. We stand fully behind the vision for the future, but think both the assessment of the current situation and the collection of programme lines could be more complete

The programme document states that co-creation with partners in society is an unfamiliar practice that needs to be developed. However, in large parts of the Dutch science sector (universities of applied science, TO2 institutions) this is standing practice.

Where the document outlines knowledge products and scholarly, it would benefit from being more comprehensive, in order to provide a more complete fundament for subsequent actions. Outputs being produced by the Dutch science field include instruction manuals, prototypes, software, media publications, in company presentations, contributions to public debate, commission and network memberships and much more.

The programme lines chapter would benefit from extra programme lines centered around recognition and rewards/researcher support; around openness of the research process before data (FAIR) and results (OA) are produced; around sustainability, both in the broader sense of the SDGs and in the narrower sense of guaranteed long term accessibility of knowledge and information; around inclusion both within and without the science sector.

3. The described programme lines and activities should cover more ground

We wholeheartedly support the objective to establish a sustainable, innovative open publishing-infrastructure for all scholarly data. This infrastructure should cover a broad collection of knowledge products.

Open science, however, is also about openness of the science process, as well as the products. Citizen science covers only a small and specific subset of the ways stakeholders can and are already participating in science. Collaborative agenda-setting, co-creation, continuous formative evaluation are but a few of the ways in which science can and is already open to societal stakeholders, like companies and non-profit knowledge intensive organisations. The programme should expand beyond citizen science.

Open access is not the end point for accessibility of knowledge. The actions described are mainly geared towards opening up knowledge within the realm of the ‘traditional scientific community,’ using channels and platforms belonging to and used by that community. As is, this is at odds with the ambition of inclusiveness and engagement of stakeholders outside that community. This document would benefit from the inclusion of actions to bring that ambition within closer reach.

To conclude

The Dutch research ecosystem is strong and at the forefront of the international movement towards more open science. This open consultation itself is an excellent illustration of why that is so. Open science in the Netherlands will strongly benefit from an open exchange of ideas and the collaboration of all national stakeholders. We have no doubt this consultation process will result in a National Programme Open Science both of high quality and with broad support, and we are committed to help make it so.

More information

For more information about our viewpoint on Open Science please contact Alex Verkade.