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Open Science at Utrecht University

Lead-up to the programme

Towards an Open Science Programme for Utrecht University

University ambition

Utrecht University wants to promote open science as part of its promise to make science more open and even more reliable, efficient and relevant to society. To follow up on the ambition formulated in the strategic plan,the rector commissioned a task force, supported by a university library work group, to draft an Open Science Programme for the period 2018-2021.

The most recent version 1.0 (PDF) of the programme is publicly available.

Results of the consultation

An initial draft version (0.5) of this programme was discussed by members of the task force and the open science working group in 45 meetings (often 1:1, sometimes in groups) with researchers ranging from PhD’s to full professors, policy/management and research support people. The consultation round included representatives from all faculties, Information and Technology Services (ITS) and the Centre for Science Communication and Culture (CWC). In addition, we also received feedback online and by email.

The formal consultation period has ended but your feedback remains welcome.

All feedback from the formal consultation round has been assembled, summarized, discussed and as much as possible incorporated in Utrecht-University-Open-Science-programme-draft-ver.-0.9.pdf (PDF) of the programme. The 0.9 version has been sent to the rector and university board. (Edit: Meanwhile, after approval by the university board, the most recent 1.0 version of the programme has become available.)
In this latest version, alongside many minor changes the task force also addressed some major issues, in response to the feedback.
We have given national and international developments a bit more attention but should not frame open science by rules and policy. Intrinsic motivation is science itself, not policy or guidelines. Open science is an inevitable result of ongoing developments in technology and society as a whole and in science specifically. Open science is a way of being better accountable (replicability, integrity, openness, etc). This document should not be something policymakers ask for, but something researchers ask for.

Although rewards/incentives are crucial to the rest of the programme, we have decided to keep the order of the text and to make more clear in the introduction that changes in the field of rewards and incentives are prerequisite for the chapters of open science elements that follow. Two routes in this area can be identified: direct rewards and incentives, like mini grants, and indirect (dependent on national and international developments) which may take much longer. In the long run initiatives on open science should give researchers more acknowledgement for their results.
The Open Science Programme should not be a top-down exercise. We think that it should be made clear what is expected of researchers on group-level (not individual level) and leave room for differentiating in pacing and in prioritizing what OS elements to start with. An important suggestion is to stay away of thinking along organizational lines (eg. Faculties). Instead focus on how research is organized in strategic themes, interdisciplinary research projects, knowledge hubs etc.

The governance of the program tries to make sure that results are delivered and money is well spent. Ideally people from the primary processes (policy committee) should steer on the results and progress of the program.The Program steering committee is seen as too much focused on policy and strategy. We suggest to investigate the possibility of working with only a Policy committee and a program team or at least make sure that the steering committee includes researchers from project teams that are actually implementing the policies or implementing open science practices. The governance of TAUU might be a good example.