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Universal access to scientific knowledge: UNESCO outlines the scope of its Recommendation on Open Science

Open science aims to uphold rigorous scientific practices, improve access to knowledge, and maximise engagement and participation in the scientific process for the greater common good. Following the 40th session of its General Conference, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was tasked with preparing a Recommendation on Open Science to provide its member states with an international framework for open science policy and practice. The first draft of the Recommendation has recently been developed with the goal of enabling “universal access to scientific knowledge, regardless of geography, gender, political boundaries, ethnicity or economic or technological barriers”.

The Recommendation aims to enable universal access to scientific knowledge.

The Recommendation defines the following fundamental elements that should be included in open science policy:

  • open access: free and full access to scientific outputs including publications, data, and software
  • open data: free use, re-use, and redistribution of data
  • open source software and open hardware: computer software and hardware licensed in a way that allows it to be freely studied, modified, expanded upon, and distributed
  • open science infrastructures: permanent and unrestricted access to the digital infrastructures (eg repositories) needed to support open science
  • open evaluation: highly transparent and participatory assessment of research
  • open educational resources: no-cost access to learning, teaching, and research materials
  • open engagement of societal actors: extending scientific collaboration to societal actors beyond those in the scientific community
  • openness to diversity of knowledge: promoting openness to indigenous knowledge systems and to all scholarly knowledge and inquiry.

Driven by the core values of collective benefit, equity, fairness, quality, integrity, diversity, and inclusiveness, the draft was developed with input from member states and in consultation with open science actors. UNESCO aim for the Recommendation to be adopted by member states in November 2021 – we look forward to seeing how this progresses.


What do you think – will the UNESCO open science policies help to improve access to knowledge and participation in science?


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