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EOSC in Austria: Austrian Open Science Policy

© This report is a result of the EOSC TF Upskilling Countries to Engage in EOSC.

Open Science Policy Austria
Open Science Policy Austria was adopted in February 2022. There, Austria committed itself to the Open Science movement and the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC). The vision of Open Science is to make scientific processes more open and effective and to use both scientific excellence and open innovative and applied research to address current challenges, which are very comprehensively presented in the Policies of the EU Commission and in the framework of the Global Sustainability Goals (UN SDGs).

According to the Open Science Policy Austria, open scholarly publishing must become the standard approach as soon as possible. To drive this momentum, research publications resulting from calls for projects that are publicly funded must be disseminated via open access platforms, be it in journals, books or via an open public repository. Austrian universities are encouraged to ensure that publications by researchers working there are also under open licenses. To maintain these practices over time, the evaluation system for researchers and research institutions needs to be updated to reflect the principles and practices of open science. Changes in the way researchers are evaluated aim to give more weight to quality over quantity, as outlined in the proposals of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) and the principles of the Leiden Manifesto. The scientific community must regain control over the publishing process in general, in accordance with the principles that govern open science and bibliodiversity are required. It must focus its efforts on those stakeholders who are working to develop a less concentrated publishing environment that is consistent with the principles.

Data and Services in Place
According to the Open Science Policy Austria, the aim is to ensure that data generated by publicly funded research in Austria have to comply with the FAIR principles (findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable), that they have to be preserved and, whenever possible, made openly accessible to the public.

The goal is also to implement a mandatory open-access dissemination mandate for all data that has already been made available as part of publicly funded projects. Certain exceptions to this obligation will be allowed in accordance with the law, e.g., if the data in question are professional secrets, statistical secrets, labor and trade secrets, personal data, or content subject to copyright, as well as if the data are considered sensitive due to national security, defense, or public safety and health.

Considering the European Data Strategy, several European legal provisions regulate the reuse of research data, in particular the European Commission Recommendation on Access to and Preservation of Scientific Information (revised 2018), the revised Directive on Open Data and the Reuse of Public Sector Information (Open Data and PSI RL 1024/2019), and the EU Copyright Directive, which applies to publicly funded research data and to which Austria subscribes. The aim is that research data can be re-used for commercial and non-commercial purposes, as long as it has been publicly funded and if it has been made publicly available by researchers, research institutions or research funding bodies via an institutional or thematic archive.

Furthermore, the European Data Strategy published in 2020 is intended to drive forward the creation of a single market for data. The aim is to increase the exchange and use of data within the EU and across sectors for the benefit of researchers, companies, and public administrations. This approach also forms the basis of the new European Research Area (ERA) to build a common science and technology space for the EU. Open Science and Open Data are essential tools for improving collaboration between researchers and innovators to enhance Austria’s attractiveness as a location for the world’s best talents.

Research Evaluation
According to the Open Science Policy Austria, new ways of evaluating research will be explored, especially to accommodate open science practices. Publish-or-perish environments will be broken up and avoided. Open peer review practices are to be implemented in order to make the evaluation of scientific output more transparent. Despite years of intense criticism of so-called journal-based metrics, the impact factor of prominent journals still plays a significant role in the scientific community, especially when it comes to career planning. Increased transparency of evaluation processes of researchers and their applications should be ensured.

Austria respects the goals of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), an international initiative that aims to establish metrics for evaluating scientific work. On the European level, the Leiden Manifesto should be mentioned in this context, which formulates similar intentions in the European context.

Open Learning
According to the Open Science Policy Austria, the aspect of how knowledge is taught is also inseparably linked to an open society and an open science. The dissemination of knowledge is closely linked to the concept of open data. Measurements:

  • Austria would like to make its contribution to making the learning materials created in Austria publicly accessible in open formats in whatever form, for example on the basis of established open data standards. In a first step, the relevant repositories will be linked and thus made publicly accessible. In this way, Austria would like to make learning content available to the scientific community on the one hand, and on the other hand make learning more flexible and adapt it to individual needs.
  • Universities and other extramural research institutions are therefore called upon both to create infrastructures to be able to deposit OER and to share them with others. Staff working at universities and universities of applied sciences should be encouraged to post and share their content in open formats where possible and appropriate.

The Forum New Media Austria (FNMA) has already prepared “Recommendations for the Integration of Open Educational Resources at Universities in Austria”. The currently running project “Open Education Austria Advanced”, in which several universities are involved, deals with the implementation of a corresponding infrastructure. Website: https://fnma.at/

Public Sector Information (PSI) initiative
The European Open Data and PSI Directive provides the legal basis for the re-use of public sector data and sets a minimum set of rules. Focus is on non-personal data that are made freely available in the public interest. The Austrian Open Data Portal is one of the servopen ices supporting this initiative: Open Data Österreich – https://www.data.gv.at/

Open Science policies by funding organizations
The largest national funding agency for basic research, the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), is committed to support open and FAIR science through its open access policy to publications and to research data (https://www.fwf.ac.at/en/research-funding/open-access-policy/). 89% of all publications resulting from FWF projects are openly accessible. Since 2019, the FWF requires a data management plan (DMP) supplemental to all approved grant proposals. The FWF has defined a minimum set of questions that comprise the DMP and that are to be addressed in the DMP template. The FWF DMP is in line with Science Europe’s “Core Requirements for Data Management Plans”.

The Vienna Science and Technology Fund (WWTF) also released an Open Science Policy in March 2022: https://wwtf.at/funding/our-principles/downloads/open-access-and-openscience-policy

Research data management policies in Austrian universities
Nine universities in Austria have policies for research data management in place, encouraging in these policies open science practices and the adoption of the FAIR principles:

  • Medical University Graz
  • Medical University Vienna
  • Graz University of Technology
  • TU Wien
  • University of Graz
  • University of Innsbruck
  • University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna
  • University of Vienna
  • WU (Vienna University of Economies and Business)

source: This report is a result of the EOSC TF Upskilling Countries to Engage in EOSC. It summarizes the presentations and discussions given there.