Our Values

At EPFL, 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 their release. We want open science to happen because it is our mission to maximize the chance that the discoveries we make, and the technologies we develop, will have a positive impact on society.

Towards a faster and more inclusive dissemination of knowledge

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

Openness should not be pursued as a goal in itself

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.

This is why EPFL wants to provide support and guidelines to its research community, taking into account disciplinary differences. You can find more information on the page Open Science in Practice.

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.