Open Science can help people to become drivers of innovation and lead to increased returns on investments. The international push for Open Science has seen more nations providing access to its publications and data. 

The European Union (EU) has been a significant player in the Open Science movement. The EU’s Ambassador in South Africa, Dr Marcus Cornaro Ambassador today (30 November) addressed the start of a two day SA-EU Open Science Workshop taking place at the Birchwood Conference Centre.

The workshop is aimed at creating a platform for relevant stakeholders in the South African national system of innovation, including Government representatives, as well as EU role-players to share some of their experiences and lessons learnt in formalizing Open Science in the EU.

Open Science is a movement to make scientific research, data and dissemination accessible to all levels of an inquiring society, amateur or professional. It encompasses practices such as publishing open research, campaigning for open access, encouraging scientists to practice open notebook science, and generally making it easier to publish and communicate scientific knowledge.

The SA-EU Open Science Dialogue Project is funded by the SA-EU Strategic Partnership Dialogue Facility. Its purpose is to among others facilitate the implementation of priority aspects of the SA-EU Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement.

The Department’s Deputy Director- General: ICR Daan du Toit, said South Africa and the EU enjoy a strategic relationship premised on advancing science for development. He said this workshop presents another opportunity to strengthen relations.

Ambassador Cornora said the EU’s commitment to Open Science is similar to its commitment to Open Trade. He said there are no benefits to, ‘hidden science, and Open Science can lead to nations achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The Department of Science and Technology’s Deputy Director-General: Research, Development and Support, said as a country, “we are looking forward to gaining from the experience of the EU.” He said the Department is looking to developing a framework to promote open science.

Several of activities, and initiatives are currently in place across South Africa in order to stimulate an environment towards Open Science, which includes open access to scholarly publications, open data, and open and collaborative research and infrastructural investments.

Any Open Science initiatives in South Africa will need to be well coordinated as well as inclusive of all the relevant stakeholders. The particular policy on Open Science will also have to be developed in a way that enhances capacity and recognition at the level of individuals, institutions and national systems.