A working group on open science education and skills has published a report titled ‘Providing researchers with the skills and competencies they need to practice Open Science’, on which the FNR has collaborated. The working group, which is under the EU’s Steering Group on Human Resources and Mobility (SGHRM), was set up to give recommendations to the Open Science Policy Platform OSPP, with the report forming the basis for further discussion in the OSPP and other related groups developing the Open Science Agenda.
Open Science is transformative to the research landscape, allowing research to be carried out with a high degree of transparency, collegiality, and research integrity. For Open Science to become a reality, researchers need appropriate discipline-dependent skills training and professional development at all stages of their research careers. To facilitate this, the Steering Group on Human Resources and Mobility (SGHRM) Working Group (WG) on ‘Education & Skills’ worked with a specific mandate to propose recommendations to ensure that researchers in Europe have appropriate skills and competences to practice Open Science. The overarching goal is to ensure that OS skills become an integral and streamlined component of the standard education, training and career development paths of researchers, and if possible even at earlier career stages, in schools and universities.
Departing from the fact that there is already now a massive offer of new jobs in Europe and worldwide around open science and open access skills, including open access publishing, data management, data analytics and data stewardship in the public and private sectors, the working group conducted a survey between March and May 2017 to assess the current situation concerning Open Science skills among researchers.
A total of 1,277 answers were received by researchers across Europe.
A majority of researchers are unaware of the concept of Open Science. What is most known is open access publishing, and there is a very high interest in open access data management practices. Researchers indicate that training opportunities for open access and open data are not yet widely offered. 3 out of 4 researchers indicate that they have not yet participated in any open access or open data course but would like to. Although an even higher proportion of researchers deem data management relevant for their research, there is insufficient data archiving support and infrastructures at the institutional level.
Given this sharp discrepancy between the future skills needs and the current offer, the working group issued the following key recommendations:
- Include Open Science skills as an integral part of the next framework programme (FP9) with dedicated funding
- Include Open Science where relevant in the major European Guidelines and Frameworks concerning researchers’ skills and career development, i.e. the European Framework for Research Careers, the Human Resources Strategy for Researchers (HRS4R) and the Innovative Doctoral Training Principles (IDTP)
- Raise awareness of Open Science skills at policy level, enhancing their uptake in institutional and funding agency policies and guidelines
- Train Researchers for Open Science ensuring career stage appropriate accredited and modularised Open Science skills training and professional development regarding open access publishing, open data and data management, professional research conduct and broader citizen science skills
- Provide support for Open Science, including infrastructure, technical, legal, professional and implementational support from institutions (establishing dedicated services and staff)
- Include Open Science Skills as a criterion for career development, so that Open Science activities are recognised and rewarded by funders and institutions, i.e. for the recruitment and progression of researchers
The report quotes a variety of good practice examples to enhance open science skills useful for institutions and researchers.