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LEARN – an international partnership rising to global challenges

By Sophie Vinter, on 19 July 2016

Written by Dr Paul Ayris

Open Science – the global context

“… [W]e are facing the biggest challenge for RTDI [Research, Technology Development and Innovation] policy makers since the advent of the modern organization of science,” claimed a recent report on Open Digital Science. Is this true? Is the world of research experiencing a paradigm shift? What does Open Science mean? Should we examine old positions on the dissemination of research outputs and have the courage to rise to the challenge which Open Science brings?

During its EU Presidency  (January  – June 2016) the Netherlands worked towards a common EU approach to Open Science, including open access to scientific publications and the best possible re-use of research data. The EU wants:

  • Full open access for all publicly funded scientific publications by 2020
  • Open data – the sharing and re-use of data – as the standard for all publicly funded research.

Experts have estimated a 4300% increase in annual data generation by 2020. However, research institutes and universities around the world often have no standard policy for researchers on how to store their data, which could limit its accessibility to others as well as impact on future funding opportunities.

The UCL-led project LEARN is working with partners in Europe and South America to raise awareness of research data management and policy issues, ensuring the work of academics from all fields can have the greatest impact in addressing global challenges.

LEARN – Leaders Activating Research Networks

Delegates attend the LEARN workshop in HelsinkiLEARN is an EU-funded project under the Horizon 2020 funding programme.

Its aim is to identify the level of preparation in research organisations for research data management, and to make recommendations to all stakeholders – governments, researchers, research funders, support bodies such as IT and Library specialists, and universities/research organisations.

LEARN is building on the earlier LERU Roadmap for Research Data to raise awareness of the importance of research data management across the globe. Outputs will include a model research data management policy, advocacy materials and a toolkit of best practice case studies.

LEARN partnership

Fundamental to the successful delivery of LEARN is its web of partnerships with other research organisations.

LEARN is led by UCL, but is working with the Universities of Vienna and Barcelona, LIBER (Association of European Research Libraries) and the UN’s ECLAC (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean).

LEARN is holding a series of international workshops (pictured here) to engage with all stakeholders, to LEARN from each other and to identify solutions. It is incredibly important that all stakeholders work together to identify issues and agree a way forward.

The invention of moveable type printing in the West in the fifteenth century revolutionised European society. During the Reformation, the printed word was key to spreading ideas. Open Science presents the same challenges and opportunities in a digital environment in the 21st century.

Dr Paul Ayris is Director of UCL Library Services, UCL Copyright Officer and the CEO of UCL Press. He is chair of the Chief Information Officer Community for LERU (League of European Research Universities), and advises the LIBER Board (Association of European Research Libraries) on EU matters and Horizon2020.

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