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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. This commitment towards open access was then formally approved by its Assembly of Members in 2004 with the decision on the implementation of the Berlin Declaration.

Since 2016, an Open Access Policy offers a clear and predictable framework for the transformation towards open access. According to this policy, all publications by scientists in the Helmholtz Association will be made freely available within at most 6 months (12 months for publications in the social sciences and humanities). Since 2013, a corresponding regulation is ensuring that beneficiaries of the Helmholtz Initiative and Networking Fund make their publications freely available to the public on the internet. 

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.

If you would like to know more

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/

Helmholtz is a key actor of the German Reproducibility Network

In February 2021, the German Reproducibility Network was founded. This peer-led cross-disciplinary consortium in Germany aims to increase trustworthiness and transparency of scientific research. Both the Helmholtz AI and the Helmholtz Open Science Office are founding members.

The network focuses on the following activities:

  • Support researchers in educating themselves about open science practices, and founding local open science communities;
  • connecting local or topic-centered Reproducibility Initiatives to a national network, and foster connections between them;
  • advise institutions on how to embed open science practices in their work;
  • represent the open science community toward other stakeholders in the wider scientific landscape.

The founding members are the following eight Open Science actors in Germany:

  • Berlin University Alliance
  • QUEST Center of the Berlin Institute of Health at Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin
  • German Psychological Society (DGPs)
  • Helmholtz AI, with Heidi Seibold (HMGU) as representative
  • Helmholtz Open Science Office, with Bernadette Fritzsch (AWI) as representative
  • LMU Open Science Center
  • NOSI (Network of Open Science Initiatives)
  • ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics

Further information

Website of the German Reproducibility Network

Helmholtz AI

Helmholtz Open Science Office

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