Funders in Europe and Incentivising Open Science

Europe has seen an extensive growth in OA policy and commitment by high-level stakeholders in recent years to better ensure open access to publications and research data. 2016 saw the commitment to full OA to scientific publications by 2020 by all European heads of States in the Competitiveness Council, national policies have been established in various countries across Europe in the Netherlands, Norway and France for example. Over 500 institutional OA policies now also exist across Europe.

Funders are also exerting significant influence on Open Scholarship and OA practice amongst researchers when requiring OA from its grantees since researchers depend on these research funding flows. Funders such as the Wellcome Trust or the EC with its Horizon 2020 programme were amongst the first to require grantees to publish OA. Since Sept 2018, a coalition of international and national funders – cOAlition S – have committed to a Plan S with10 principles to accelerate the move to full OA with 20 signatories to date. Over 400 funders, charities, academies and foundations exist in Europe, and there is significant potential to increase open access to public research in Europe once a greater understanding of funder commitments to OA policies, rewards and incentives has been gained.

This presentation will describe the results of a research study called the RIF Project that gleans insights into the various patterns of rewards and incentives being employed by European research funders to encourage open access to publications and research data and openness in research assessment for the research they fund. Funders across Europe are using scholarly communications to increase the impact of their grant results, thereby incentivizing researchers to share their research more openly. More than 60 funders responded to a survey that was conducted in early Spring 2019 coming from key international funding bodies, national funding agencies, major charities and foundations, and national academies and from over 25 countries. The study is being led by SPARC Europe in consultation with Science Europe, ALLEA and the EFC. The survey is the first of its kind, also to include academies, foundations and charities in Europe.

What kinds of policy choices have funders made to influence how grantees increase open access to their research results with as few restrictions as possible? How can funders contribute to changing the research evaluation system by exploring ways to evaluate the intrinsic value of research beyond the impact factor for example; promoting, and considering a wider range of types of research when evaluating grants. What internal evaluation processes come with that? Can funders stimulate grantees to disseminate a wide range of research more broadly, also for re-use, and encourage its discoverability? How are funders contributing to the investment in open, be it through financing open access journal articles and other material, and supporting infrastructure?

The presentation will provide answers to these questions by sharing some of the survey’s high level results, firstly reporting on types of Open Access and Open Science policies amongst a range of funders to frame the other incentives. We will then go into how funders are currently funding Open Access publications, as well as Open Access and research data development, services or infrastructure. Furthermore, we will outline what grant evaluation criteria are used when evaluating the research funders fund or wish to fund and for indications for innovation in this process, e.g. asking how far they endorse initiatives such as the Leiden Manifesto or DORA and where Open Science is and is not included in that process. The project will end by delving into areas of the study that inform on certain principles of Plan S.

This research will help raise awareness of the range of opportunities to funders with Open Science to help them and their grantees increase access, visibility and impact of their research results on health, industry and society. For libraries, more rewards and incentives amongst funders in Europe clearly endorses the Open Science work we have been leading on for many years. More development in this area also promises to have positive consequences on helping libraries achieve more open access to research results as seen with the REF in the UK or with Horizon 2020. Note that Plan S, established in Sept 2018, is a key engine for funders to provide more immediate OA to research. Plan S can go hand in hand with studies like the RIF Project that can contribute to showing trends, gaps and good practices to inform and motivate more funders to embrace Open Science in policy and practice on various levels. We hope to tell you how.

  • Vanessa ProudmanVanessa ProudmanSPARC Europe

    Vanessa Proudman is Director of SPARC Europe; she is working to make Open the default in Europe. Vanessa has 20 years’ international… More →