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Science for All

The University of Freiburg publishes its Open Science policy

Freiburg, May 02, 2024

“The open science transformation fundamentally changes the entire cycle of scholarly work (…). It is not an end in itself but rather must be measured by its ability to reshape the communication and publication culture as well as research infrastructures for the benefit of science, humanities and society.” (Open Science policy, University of Freiburg)

This transformation is the goal of the University of Freiburg’s Open Science policy, which came into effect on 1 February 2024 with the resolution of the Senate at the University of Freiburg and is now binding. The policy is designed for all members and associates of the university and will in future offer guidelines and recommendations for all research and publication activities.

Open Science – an important contribution to scientific freedom

Open Science is the concept of making academic research, its methods and results openly accessible to all and legally usable, thereby enabling greater participation. UNESCO has named two primary objectives for Open Science: more equitable access to science worldwide and thereby also better contributions to enabling the resolution of worldwide problems as well as improving efficiency, transparency and scrutiny. In this way, Open Science makes an important contribution to realising the human right to participate in academic progress and scientific freedom.

The University of Freiburg also wants to contribute to this cultural change. “We view Open Science as a core element of our academic culture and as an essential part of good research practice,” declares Professor Stefan Rensing, Vice Rector for Research and Innovation at the University of Freiburg. “So we are taking a significant and groundbreaking step for the university with publication of this Open Science policy.”

The Open Science policy was largely developed by the ‘Digitalisierung und Open Science’ work group. It is not however entirely new: the University of Freiburg has already had an Open Access Resolution for several years, and this has now been incorporated in the extended Open Science policy. The Open Science policy is based on UNESCO’s recommendations and the guidelines of the German Research Foundation (DFG) for Safeguarding Good Research Practice.

Publications, data, teaching materials – Open Science promotes scientific exchange of knowledge

The Open Science policy envisages that all scientific work undertaken by researchers at the University of Freiburg should be made freely accessible and reusable to anyone worldwide, without financial, legal or technical barriers, as long as there are no plausible arguments against this. This includes, for instance, publications (Open Access), research data (Open Data), teaching materials (Open Educational Resources), metadata, workflows, software codes and construction plans (Open Source Software & Hardware). Data and metadata which have resulted in a publication should accordingly also be published to enable reuse.

Another element of Open Science is open research infrastructures, which promote cooperation and the exchange of information. Open file formats, for example, can enable processing data independent of specific software and hardware. Open Science also opens up the processes of knowledge creation, teaching and evaluation to more than just the traditional academic community, and interacts with other systems of generating knowledge outside the academic community, such as Citizen Science.

As open as possible, as closed as necessary

The central idea of the Open Science policy is always: “As open as possible, as closed as necessary”. For researchers this means that their research and publication activities should, wherever possible, be open. However, where it is important to protect potential for commercialisation, ‘closed’ publication is still possible. So while openness is the basic ‘modus operandi’, restriction is permitted with due consideration, bearing in mind that it must be possible to justify this on the basis of the specific research project.

Transparency, participation, sustainability – values in the entire scientific process

Open Science makes it easier for researchers to exchange scientific findings. As a result, it encourages innovation. Academic knowledge can, when it is freely available, be examined and reproduced more easily. Redundant research work can be avoided more effectively. Last but not least, Open Science opens up research to the public and promotes public involvement by means of diverse forms of communication and participation models.

The role of the researcher

The University of Freiburg is committed to publications by its scientists appearing through Open Access. “We expressly appeal to members and associates to help to shape the Open Science transformation and to follow the principles of Open Science,” emphasises Rensing. Researchers can do so by deliberately choosing publication strategies and licences according to Open Science aspects. Open Science practices are expected to have a positive effect on scientists’ individual career development. In order to be able to record and track their Open Science practices, it is important that all researchers at the University of Freiburg record an Open Researcher and Contributor Identity (ORCID). You can find more information about this here.

Support from the University of Freiburg

The university itself has the duty of creating the organisational and technical conditions necessary for Open Science. For instance, the University Library has a range of master agreements, which allow university members to publish their articles in Open Access free of charge or at a discount. The university’s publication fund can also cover separate fees for Open Access publications for members/associates of the University of Freiburg (pro rata). In addition, the University Library provides researchers with Diamond Open Access publication platforms: ’Diamond Open Access’ is the term for Open Access publication models operated by public and/or non-commercial bodies which can therefore waive publication fees for authors. By developing a university press (Freiburg University Publishing) the existing publishing portfolio of the University Library is at the same time being expanded. Finally, the university also enables its researchers to publish and store research data and metadata over the long term on FreiDok plus and FreiData as well as encouraging them to use external specialists or infrastructure such as the German National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI).

You can see the Open Science policy of the University of Freiburg here. There is more information on Open Science here.



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