Open Science - Opportunities, Challenges, and Fields of Action

Self-Conception of the Open Science Working Group of the Helmholtz Association

(26 February 2015)


[auf Deutsch]

The term open science denotes a cultural shift in the scholarly way of working and communication. Computer supported working and digital communication enable a more effective and more open exchange of information within academia and foster the transfer of the results into society.

The open - meaning impeded by as little financial, technical, and legal obstacles as possible - access to scientific results such as publications, research data, and research software expands transparency in academia, improves quality assurance procedures, and through improved supply of information increases the productivity of academia. Open science thus always also serves the improvement of good scientific practice. Furthermore, open science fosters knowledge transfer into society, economy, and politics.

For the Open Science Working Group intelligent openness is at the heart of all open science procedures. This means that, in accordance with the programmatic text ‘Science as an open enterprise’¹, scientific results should be made accessible, assessable, comprehensible, and reusable. Concerning the implementation it is necessary to weigh up the opportunities and the challenges and to keep a sense of proportion in dealing with openness. Intelligent openness also includes recognising legitimate reasons for restricting public access. This recognition creates leeway for negotiations of the actors affected by these processes of change.

The development of open science in the research areas of the Helmholtz Association is at different stages, depending on the discipline and publication culture. It is the concern of the Open Science Working Group, in close cooperation with the Helmholtz Open Science Coordination Office², to support researchers in developing lines of orientation. The Helmholtz Association is called upon to help shaping the ongoing cultural shift from closed to open in accordance with academia.

The Open Science Working Group makes the following fields of action the focus of its work:

  • Open access - access to and reuse of textual publications
  • Open research data - access to and reuse of research data
  • Open research software - access to and reuse of research software
  • National and international networking on open science

Considering the dynamic developments of this topic area and its framework conditions, adjustments of these fields of action will be necessary in the future and are to be expected.  

¹ Boulton, G. et al. 2012: Science as an open enterprise. London: Royal Society.