Open Data, Open Access and Open Science

Open Data, Open Access and Open Science
by Trinity College Dublin

By the end of this section, you should be able to…

  • Understand and explain what is meant by Open Data, Open Access and Open Science
  • Understand the arguments both in favour and against Open Data, Open Access and Open Science in the humanities
  • Understand and explain how different projects have taken these concepts on board

How to Define Open Science?

This is actually not a simple question to answer: for some it is a set of values, others a set of activities.  For some, it is located in one or more specific mandates (such as open access); for others it represents a broader set of changes.  Perhaps this scenario, featured in the European Commission’s official publication on the topic (Open Innovation Open Science Open to the World – a vision for Europe, 2016) highlights the vision best;

“The year is 2030. Open Science has become a reality and is offering a whole range of new, unlimited opportunities for research and discovery worldwide. Scientists, citizens, publishers, research institutions, public and private research funders, students and education professionals as well as companies from around the globe are sharing an open, virtual environment, called The Lab. Open source communities and scientists, publishing companies and the high-tech industry have pushed the EU and UNESCO to develop common open research standards, establishing a virtual learning gateway, offering free public access to all scientific data as well as to all publicly funded research. The OECD as well as many countries from Africa, Asia, and Latin America have adopted these new standards, allowing users to share a common platform to exchange knowledge at a global scale. High-tech start-ups and small public-private partnerships have spread across the globe to become the service providers of the new digital science learning network, empowering researchers, citizens, educators, innovators and students worldwide to share knowledge by using the best available technology. Free and open, high quality and crowd-sourced science, focusing on the grand societal challenges of our time, shapes the daily life of a new generation of researchers.”


Sara Di Giorgio explains Open Access and Open Data (20 mins)

The transcript from this video is available in:

Component Features of Open Science

In spite of the mobility of the definition of Open Science, it is clear that certain activities and communities are very much implicated in its delivery.

  • Open Access to Research Publications:  This is perhaps the Open Science issue researchers will have heard the most about, with the ‘green,’ ‘gold’ and ‘hybrid’ models for making scholarship freely available the most well-known.  But these terms largely refer to management of particular forms of scholarship with their roots in the affordances and constraints of earlier eras.  Open Science looks to go beyond these forms and the players invested in their continuation, to explore new business models and modes for scholarly communications.
  • Open Research Data and the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC):  Knowledge creation can be more fluid and efficient if we can share not only our results, but the underlying data we used to draw our conclusions.  Broadening the pool of researchers committed to FAIR open research data (see the first section of this module for a discussion of the FAIR principles) will progress this goal on a cultural level.  The EOSC will be a key common infrastructural development to enable this.
  • Skills and Rewards for Open Science: Researchers must come to see openness as a scholarly value on a par with the development of new knowledge and the communication of same.  For this, early career and senior researchers will need both the tools and the incentives to change their practices.
  • Alternative Metrics:  New practices cannot necessarily be evaluated using the same criteria as were most applicable to their predecessors.  Exploring alternative metrics and approaches to the evaluation of science quality is therefore a key enabler for Open Science.
  • Citizen Science: Once science is open, then new actors will be able to enter the system and share their knowledge.  Industry is a key audience here, but also citizens, who may engage with scientific materials or indeed with active research groups to satisfy their curiosity and build their skills.
  • Research Integrity:  In a new scholarly communications system based on sharing and openness, what issues need to be reconsidered regarding the protection and assignment of intellectual property, the prevention of plagiarism or the management of potentially predatory publishing practices?

Open Science and the Humanities

For a number of reasons, the arts and humanities have been relatively slow to take on the challenges of Open Science.  There are good reasons for this: the policies and processes that have so quickly become mainstreamed seem at times antithetical to the values, conditions and methods of the humanities.  Gold open access depends upon a level of funding the humanities by and large do not have access to.   Open access to books is only just becoming a part of the discussion, complicated by the partial access to so many scientific publications facilitated by Google.  The lack of licenses or patents as a way of protecting valuable knowledge makes the early release of key results seem risky, in particular in communities where the most prestigious publishers offer no viable open access option.  And of course, the hybrid nature of humanities sources, and the long tradition of sharing ownership of them between cultural heritage institutions researchers, makes the idea of openly sharing research data problematic.

That said, there are strong incentives.  Finding ways to release knowledge more widely and faster stands to bring great benefit also to the humanities.  It will allow new perspectives to arise in a more informed landscape, eliminating potential duplication of research topics.  Furthermore, it will allow knowledge to be better broadcasted to and integrated with that of scholars around the world, enabling broader research impacts broader research impacts on society at large.  It will allow the humanities to take advantage of (rather than be subject to) the emerging norms of publication and dissemination of scholarship, in which new standards are emerging for the granularity and form of verifiable new knowledge, from blog posts to pre prints to data sets.  Increasing the impact and visibility of humanities research work, at an individual level and collectively, builds our digital sovereignty as scholars, and is one of the key potential benefits of embedding open access in the humanities.

Should these arguments not be compelling enough, we must also be aware of directives, such as the Public Sector Information re-use directive or the emerging EC policy on open access to research data, that may drive us toward open science, whether we want to go there or not.  Ensuring that processes and resources for openness that are attuned to humanities methodologies and values is therefore a key challenge of the current moment.



What is open culture? Interview with Jill Cousins from Europeana on Vimeo.

Case Studies

How “Lexicon Philosophicum” became an Open Source journal

International Journal for the History of Texts and Ideas,, is an international Open Access electronic journal published by the Istituto per il Lessico Intellettuale Europeo e Storia delle Idee (ILIESI-CNR). The journal is the outgrowth of a previous traditional journal published on paper: since 1985 the ILIESI has published twelve volumes in the form of ‘Cahier’ under the same name Lexicon Philosophicum, appearing in the series “Lessico Intellettuale Europeo” published in Florence by Olschki.

The current Lexicon Philosophicum is an annual, open peer-reviewed, open access journal, with an interdisciplinary character. The journal provides open access to original, unpublished high quality contributions: critical essays, research articles, short texts editions, and critical bibliographic reviews on the history of philosophy, the history of science, and the history of ideas, with a special attention to textual and lexical data.

The new journal has been created within the activities of the European project Agora Scholarly Open Access Research in European Philosophy (2011- 2014). The journal has been part of an evaluation experiment (see below) for which the goal was to determine and enhance standards in the field of open collaborative peer review in the Humanities and Social Sciences

The journal articles can be interlinked with a large collection of primary sources of Ancient and Early Modern Philosophy available in the portal Daphnet ( and with the selected contributions contained in the Daphnet Digital Library platform ( ILIESI always ask permissions for online publications in these platforms: a) in case of explicit authorization CC-BY-NC-SA is used; b) if the authorization for reuse is not present, “all rights reserved” is applied; c) if authorization is difficult to ask for, CC-BY-NC-SA (silence means consent) is used.

Adopting the Open Journal System (OJS), the journal adheres to the open access protocols to improve the quality and the dissemination of scholarly publishing in the field of philosophy. OJS is a journal management and publishing system that has been developed by the Public Knowledge Project. Its main features are:

1) It is installed and controlled locally.
2) Editors configure the requirements, sections, review process, etcetera.
3) There is online submission and management of all content.
4) A subscription module with delayed open access options.
5) Comprehensive indexing of content part of global system.
6) Reading Tools for content, based on field and editors’ choice.
7) Email notification and commenting ability for readers.
8) LOCKSS system to create a distributed archiving system among participating libraries and which permits those libraries to create permanent archives of the journal for purposes of preservation and restoration.

Lexicon Philosophicum uses DOI to guarantee the URL stability of its documents. Lexicon Philosophicum provides immediate open access to its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge. The contributions published in the journal are made available in Open Access under the Creative Commons General Public Licence Attribution, Non Commercial, Share-Alike version 3.0 (CCPL BY-NC-SA). Such a licence, while granting the paternity and integrity to the original author(s), permits public and unrestricted access to the works, their use, copy, reproduction, and redistribution, provided that such uses are not commercial. It also allows the creation of derivative works (such as translations and adaptations), provided that the derivative works are distributed under the same licence as the original works.

Open peer review experiment: Lexicon Philosophicum and Nordic Wittgenstein Review (NWR; took part in an Open Review experiment, in which double-blind peer review was supplemented with a session of Open Review or Preview online of the submitted articles accepted for publication for one month during which registered users were asked to comment on and discuss the accepted papers. Discussions were moderated by the editors and editor-in-chief.

One of the key tasks of the CENDARI project ( was to federate a large corpus of highly heterogeneous data and metadata from a range of over 1,200 institutions. For some of these institutions, data could be accessed via an aggregator, such as Europeana, which offers an open API for data sharing. In other cases, individual institutional data was either delivered via a file transfer or had to be created or curated by hand by the project researchers.

This landscape of partners, formats and datatypes resulted in an exceptionally complex IPR situation with many different licence types and restrictions already governing the data coming in which had to be preserved going out. In addition, there were often competing voices and positions among the many communities and institutions the project was dealing with.

The approach taken by CENDARI was to work within the standard and recognised Creative Commons licensing system, which was applied as follows: a CC-BY licence was applied by default to all data in the system. This was in step with the Archives Portal Europe, a key partner in recruiting data, as well as with the DARIAH ERIC, the project’s umbrella infrastructure. Data coming from Europeana, however, had to be flagged as reusable under the same licence it was acquired under, in most cases CC-0. Individual institutions contributing under CC-BY were also given the option to use CC-0, in particular for metadata that did not appear in the Europeana ecosystem, to facilitate its later presentation there. This exemption enabled sharing between CENDARI and Europeana in two directions, to the benefit of smaller partner institutions.

Finally, in some cases, specific licences were requested by institutions, such as the addition of an NC-SA clause for one particular US-based institution. This flexibility allowed the project to recruit data that might not have been available if a narrower approach to rights management had been applied. This did create additional system complexity, however, as metadata outlining the rights under which a specific dataset had been acquired and could be reused had to be applied at a far finer level of granularity.

Implementing CCO licence on data
Both government and the scientific community increasingly emphasise the importance of open access to publicly funded data. The European Science Foundation and other leading European research funders have declared their support for the “Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities”.

As an early adopter of open access and open data, DANS is implementing this policy in practice. DANS has decided to no longer require registration for users as a standard. The registration of users is considered as an obstacle to this “open access”. Furthermore, computer applications (such as linked data apps, text and data mining) encounter barriers with registration and are not able to query archived data or edit them. By removing this registration requirement, the licence ‘Open access for registered users’ will change to an open licence, for which DANS uses CC0 Waiver of Creative Commons as the standard. The standard limits the legal and technical barriers for the reuse of data by waiving copyright and neighbouring rights, to the extent permitted by the law. DANS will continue to draw users’ attention to the fact that, in accordance with the VSNU/KNAW Code of Conduct for Academic Practice, proper citation of research remains imperative.

The strategic decision was made to make the default setting Open access for everyone in EASY the online archiving system of DANS. The more practical phase of implementing this new standard required the following steps to:
– Update the DANS Licence agreement by including CC0.
– Update the guidelines on data depositing.
– Update the help texts in the archiving system EASY: the dataset files are accessible to all users of EASY and ‘CC0 Waiver – No Rights Reserved’ applies. For more information please visit

In this category, all possible rights (such as copyrights and database rights) on the dataset files have been waived. Other actions undertaken by DANS are:
– Communication and disseminating activities by promoting them in DataLink, the newsletter of DANS, on the DANS website and in mailings.
– Contacting researchers who deposited their data in previous years to enquire if they objected to transforming their data to a CCO licence. If depositors didn’t agree they could opt out by choosing a more restricted category. At the start, 405 (non- archaeological) depositors of one or more datasets were willing to change their data into CC0. This was followed by a number of archaeological organisations which agreed to change a collection of thousands of archaeological datasets into Open Access.

Implementing this change by software developers in the archiving system EASY by transferring thousands of datasets towards the status ‘Open for Everyone’ is still in progress. Not only the change of category but also the update of the old licence related to the archived data is needed.

The open access movement is an ongoing process and DANS likes to share its experiences on this. A related document is the IPR report comparing licences and access at Europeana and DANS (Heiko Tjalsma) which was presented at the PARTHENOS Workshop in Rome in November 2016.

Online Resources


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Your progress through the "Manage, Improve and Open Up Your Research Data" module