Further to the adoption of the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science in November 2021, UNESCO launched a Global Call for Best Practices in Open Science. This call aims to collect best practices in open science at the individual, institutional, national, regional, and international levels with a particular focus on the seven priority areas of action highlighted in the Recommendation. One of these areas particularly relevant for Invest in Open Infrastructure’s (IOI) work is “investing in open science infrastructures”.

In June, we collaborated with the Turing Way, the Tools, Practices & Systems (TPS) Programme at the Alan Turing Institute, and Open Life Science to host a series of community workshops to gather input for a community response to this Global Call.

During the workshop, we used the 1-2-4-all format from Liberating Structures to guide participants in reflecting on their experiences, sharing them with others, and identifying best practices for supporting, adopting, using, and contributing to open infrastructure. The key points and notes from the workshop were used to produce the community response we submitted to the UNESCO call.

Below, we share the main part of the response — a description of the best practices. You can also find a full version of our submission and a summary of the community discussion at this link.

We would like to sincerely thank everyone who participated in the workshop and contributed to the drafting and reviewing of the response.

An excerpt of the community response

As stated in the [UNESCO] recommendations, open science infrastructure and services should be owned and governed by the community. This requires investments in community engagement and building, and includes efforts focused on: building contributor pathways; providing attributions, support and rewards for contributors; and cultivating a sense of co-ownership. It is vital that technical, social, and economic barriers to contributions are lowered — this includes welcoming non-technical knowledge.

We’ve also seen success where funders and institutions invest in the maintenance of open infrastructure, capacity building, and the creation of long-term paid positions specifically dedicated to open science and infrastructure. The sustainability and empowerment of existing communities should be prioritized, allowing them time to make permanent and more profound changes.

Sustainable investment in open infrastructure requires partnerships between public and private sectors. These partnerships are often challenging to build as they require an alignment of funders’, policymakers’, technocrats’, and institutions' visions and needs. In engaging with diverse partners, stakeholders should modify language accordingly, in order to be as welcoming and inclusive as possible towards affected populations. Strategic commercial partnerships should be encouraged, as long as specific standards and rules around open market bidding, open-source development, common interest, data ethics, and interoperable tools are provided. Instead of cutting ties with commercial partners, we should influence them towards improved transparency.

Open infrastructure thrives when there’s a broader cultural change towards openness. It is therefore crucial for individuals to invest in this change, by recognizing their powers within communities and how this power can be used for change.

Posted by Emmy Tsang