• Projection: What is Open Science?

    Open Access: free knowledge for everyone

Research results quickly and easily accessible online: The Open Access movement is campaigning for a paradigm shift in the field of publications and is receiving ever greater support from politics and science worldwide. The Brain City Berlin plays a pioneering role in this. In 2015, the Berlin Senate adopted an Open Access strategy. The overall vision is called Open Science: a science in which everyone in the world can participate.

“Open Science allows people to take part in it, not just in being able to read the scientific results but also in actually taking part in science and shaping science,” states Dr. Luiza Bengtsson, research assistant in the communications department at the Max Delbrück Centre for Molecular Medicine (MDC) in Berlin. “This is really important, because in our current world we have to work together to solve the challenges of today, such as climate change or global health.” For her colleague Dr. Emma Anne Harris, Training Developer for the European ORION Open Science Project at the MDC, Open Science means above all the accessibility of knowledge. “For me Open Science is accessibility, so that the public can have access to researches done by scientists but also that the scientific community can have access to the research done by other scientists.” 

The Berlin Open Access Strategy

For several years Berlin has been working on the implementation of this so-called Open Access, a prerequisite for Open Science. And with increasing success. In October 2015, the Berlin House of Representatives adopted an Open Access Strategy for the capital. This defines the term Open Access as free, digital access to scientific publications. It is about the comprehensive usability of research results, metadata, source material and digital visual, graphic and multimedia material that were created with public funds. This also includes digital cultural heritage.

The objective of the Open Access strategy of the Berlin Senate: By 2020, around two thirds of the research results of all scientific institutions in Berlin should be accessible online. By 2017, 38.5 percent of scientific journals in Berlin had already been published in Open Access. The trend is increasing, according to a Result report of the working group Open Access Strategy Berlin from last year. Nationally, the rate is around 40 percent, according to a study by the European Commission

Development is still in its beginning. To drive the venture forward, the Open Access Office Berlin was launched, which started work in 2016 and is unique in its form. It acts as a networker of the Berlin institutions and imparts important Open Access expertise for the establishment of cooperation partnerships and underlying structures. This is done primarily through workshops and working groups, in which those responsible at the various universities exchange ideas and come together. As an example, the working group of Berlin's Open Access Representatives, brings together those responsible from 14 Berlin universities.

Fresh impetus for Berlin

The advantages of Open Access can be clearly seen: When knowledge becomes free for everyone, the quality of science also benefits. The structures become more open, interdisciplinarity is promoted. And the transfer of knowledge between research institutions and the public is also simplified. New research approaches emerge, and new opportunities open up for the population to participate in the scientific process. This gives research and development fresh impetus. In the Brain City Berlin this can already be observed in many places. Dr. Luiza Bengtsson also confirms this. “There is definitely a very active and extremely diverse Open Science scene in Berlin. In addition to major events and workshops such as the Open Science Campus, which took place in the Berlin Science Week at the Berlin Natural History Museum in 2019, there are also many grassroots initiatives and for example the Open Science meet-up,” Luiza Bengtsson said.

The largest event in Berlin, on the subject of Open Science, is the seventh international Open Science Conference of the Leibniz Research Alliance Open Science, which will take place from 11 to 12 March 2020. It offers a unique forum for researchers, decision-makers from politics and science as well as other important interest groups to inform themselves about current and future developments in the field and to exchange ideas. The associated Barcamp Open Science will be held on 10 March 2020.

In comparison to Open Access, Open Science is still a topic of the future. However, it could soon become a reality as Dr. Maike Weisspflug, research assistant at the Berlin Natural History Museum states: “The vision is that Open Science will be one aspect, or a normal part of doing science so that we learn to really open up, share our data, work with citizens as a kind of normality. Actually, Berlin is very active, vivid and a great place to work in Open Science.” (vdo)

Open Access: What is it about?

The basic idea of Open Access is clear: Scientific publications and digitised cultural heritage should be freely accessible to the public on the Internet: free of charge and as free as possible from technical and legal barriers. It is also about creating the best possible attention for the results of scientific research, an increase in the speed of publication and access and therefore the opportunities for further use of knowledge. Transparency and quality assurance are further issues. The Berlin Declaration of Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities from 2003 is considered a milestone in the Open Access movement. In the meantime, more than 600 institutions from around the world have signed the declaration.

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