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Open Science

The term open science describes a cultural change in science and science communication.

Image: Shutterstock/Jackie Niam

Computerized work and digital communication allow for a more effective and open exchange of information within science and promote the transfer of scientific results and methods to society, the economy, and politics. Limited by as few financial, technical, and legal obstacles as possible, open access to scientific publications, research data, and research software expands the transparency and the possibilities for quality assurance of scientific work. In addition, open science increases the efficacy of science through an improved supply of information and increases innovation based on scientific knowledge by facilitating the transfer of knowledge to society, the economy, and politics.

With this aim in mind, the Helmholtz Association was one of the initial signatories of the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities in 2003. In September 2022, we adopted the Helmholtz Open Science Policy. The policy foresees that scientific articles, research data and research software will be published openly. Open Science thus becomes the standard of publication practice. We establish guiding principles and set goals. The policy creates a common framework for Open Science at our research centers and integrates the previous steps towards Open Science.

The Helmholtz Open Science Policy thus replaces the Open Access Guideline, which has already been in place since 2016, and the Guideline for Recipients of Funds from the Helmholtz Association's Initiative and Networking Fund, which has been in place since 2013.

Furthermore also in 2016 a position paper on the management of research data in the Helmholtz Association was adopted by the Helmholtz Association's Assembly of Members: next to the access to research data, this position paper also raises topics such as the training of data specialists and the resourcing of information infrastructures including their organizational and financial safeguarding. Sustainability concerning research software is also a concern of the Helmholtz Association. 

The Helmholtz Open Science Office

The mission of the Helmholtz Open Science Office is to promote the cultural change towards open science. The office, established by the Helmholtz Association in 2005, sees itself as a service provider that supports the community in shaping the cultural change towards open science. The Helmholtz Open Science Office is a partner of all stakeholders involved in this process within Helmholtz.

Guided by the motto "Enabling open science practices in Helmholtz!" the Helmholtz Open Science Office works within the Association and promotes the visibility of Helmholtz on a national as well as international level within the context of Open Science in the spirit of the Helmholtz mission.

In order to promote open science in the Helmholtz Centers, the Helmholtz Open Science Office actively engages in dialogue with stakeholders in science, administration, and service facilities such as libraries, data and computer centers. Regularly occurring workshops, lectures, discussions, and frequent publications provide information about the opportunities and challenges of open science.

Information is specifically provided for those who interact with open science day-to-day within their activities; the focus lies on e.g., implementation strategies, technical aspects, business models, and legal issues. In addition to personal information exchanges, e.g., in the context of the regular Helmholtz Open Science online seminars, this dialogue is also maintained via the Helmholtz Open Science Office’s mailing list.

In addition, the Helmholtz Open Science Newsletter provides information on current developments in the field of open science, with a special focus on activities relevant to Helmholtz. The newsletter is aimed both at members of the Helmholtz Centers and external interested parties; it appears at least quarterly.

You can find more information, amongst others, on the advantages of open science and on current activities on the website of the Helmholtz Open Science Office:  http://os.helmholtz.de/

Participation of the Helmholtz Centers in the National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI)

Helmholtz Centres are involved in the following NFDI consortia as applicant or participating institutions:

In addition, the following centers are actively involved in the NFDI Association as members:

  • Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI)
  • CISPA – Helmholtz Center for Information Security
  • Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY
  • German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ)
  • German Aerospace Center (DLR)
  • German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE)
  • Forschungszentrum Jülich
  • GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel
  • Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI)
  • Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ
  • Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie
  • Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon
  • Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental Health (HMGU)
  • Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences
  • Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
  • Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC)

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