Our values for Open Science

We believe knowledge produced with the support of public funding should be freely available to anyone, provided there are no legal or ethical reasons that should prevent or delay the release of scientific information.

What is Open Science ?

Open science is more than just open access to scientific publication. It is a holistic approach to scientific research, education and innovation that aims to make the process and outcome of scientific inquiry more transparent, inclusive, and impactful.

This approach seeks to foster greater crosstalk and engagement between scientists, educators, innovators and society, by breaking down barriers to participation, collaboration, and knowledge dissemination. This way, open science aims to enhance the quality and relevance of scientific research, education and innovation, and enable the creation of scientific commons that contribute to the empowerment of the open communities they belong to. It is also crucial to find faster solutions to society’s most pressing challenges.

As a public institution, we believe it is our responsibility to embrace open science and prioritize the public good over our own interests.

For more details on what Open Science entails, check the UNESCO recommendation for Open Science

Our Vision

At EPFL, we engage in providing an environment that fosters collaboration and enables our community to engage and benefit from Open Science, through various ways.

The institution is a partner and supporter of every researcher’s engagement in Open Science, regardless of its maturity, scale or ambition. It aims to do so by providing support to the visionaries, leaders, drivers and activists of Open Science and creating the conditions to make Open Science practices accessible to everyone, without unecessary barriers or burdens.

The institution envisions to also adequately reward researchers who take part in Open Science, and take a fair share responsibility of the risk it may create in their career.

Ultimately, EPFL is conscious that Open Science practices are diverse and discipline-specific, and values the dynamism of open communities before and above compliance.

In practice

Research outputs can take various shapes: publications, data collected and analyzed, the associated metadata, software and code, hardware and instrumentation, experimental setups and methods, multimedia files, and many more.

While intellectual property (IP) has to be protected in some cases in order to stimulate innovation, lead to commercialisation and allow return on investment, open science initiatives aim at lowering or erasing the technical, social, and cultural barriers that prevent scientists from sharing outputs that does not call for IP protection with other researchers, and ultimately with anyone.

The barrier-free availability of research results is the basis for more transparency and efficiency in science, allowing anyone to:

  • scrutinise, verify, reproduce, re-analyse and improve upon existing information
  • avoid duplication and therefore effectively use resources
  • open new paths for discovery and collaboration

There is limited value in openness as an afterthought of a research project. It needs to be embedded in the process so that every aspect can be captured and carefully documented throughout the explorative phase, and then released with the results at the time of publication.

There are challenges that will need to be overcome: some are related to the costs and complexity of the necessary infrastructure, but the main barriers remains cultural. We need to rethink incentives, communicate change and develop training.

We also encourage our researchers to explore how their daily practice will evolve in the future, participate to this evolution within their community, and start by taking the steps they feel comfortable taking.