SA-EU Open Science Dialogue Report available

22 Jan 2019 - 12:00

(the following excerpt is taken from the Executive Summary of the Dialogue Report)

The nature of science is changing from a closed system to an open and sharing one. It affects virtually all components of doing science and research and shifts in particular the focus from publishing as fast as possible to sharing knowledge as early as possible.

Open science is good for: (i) science itself: it improves efficiency and the verifiability of sci­ence, it brings transparency, and it allows in­ter-disciplinarity; (ii) the economy: with wider access to, and increased re-use of scientific in­formation by all, and in particular, by industry and innovative companies; and (iii) society: it brings broader, faster, transparent and equal access for citizens, and contributes to increased societal impact of science and research.

The raison d'etre for developing an Open Sci­ence Framework for South Africa is the rec­ognition by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) that Open Science is a game changer for South Africa insofar as it seeks to create an ecosystem in which scientific re­search is more cumulative, better supported by data, more transparent with faster and more universal access to results, and under­pinned by a greater focus on scientific integ­rity and the public’s trust in science.

However, a key challenge facing Open Sci­ence in South Africa is the issue of fragmen­tation, and absence of a common sense of direction. Hence, the decision to develop an overarching national framework on Open Sci­ence. The Open Science Framework for South Africa articulates a set of guidelines and princi­ples for publicly funded open science and open data for the South African context. The Open Science Framework also includes action points for key stakeholders such as relevant govern­ment departments, universities, science coun­cils, civil society and industry. Mainstreaming science that is open to all and that is integrat­ed across disciplines will enable South Africa to take advantage of the benefits of collaborative, transdisciplinary approaches to knowledge de­velopment and sharing.

The three pillars of Open Science - open ac­cess to scientific information, open data and open engagement with society (including firms) - all require changes to traditional sci­entific processes and behaviours that need to be supported by policy mandates and ap­propriate incentive, monitoring and reward systems.

In South Africa, Open Science also has tre­mendous potential for creating a more inclu­sive society. An important aspect of Open Sci­ence relates to how the public is taking a more active role in science – what is referred to in the literature as ‘citizen science’. Open Science can create unprecedented connections be­tween researchers and the public, allowing for a vibrant citizen science movement, poised to have transformative effects on how research is executed.

Open Science holds great promise in strength­ening the competitiveness of the overall South African science and research system. It has the potential to speed up knowledge transfer among scientists and scientific disciplines, to foster the growth of new types of scientific coop­eration and to stimulate collaborative research.

In this document, an Open Science Frame­work is presented. The intention of the frame­work is to support the DST in the formulation of an Open Science policy and more broadly, to assist all actors involved in the R&D process with the adoption of Open Science practic­es and principles. The document covers the process which was followed in developing the framework, the proposed rationale for Open Science in South Africa, the policy and tech­nology context, the objectives for its adoption, normative principles and guidelines and finally a set of policy recommendations.

Download the full report here

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