Open Science in a Pandemic: Some Learning Shared at ESOF2020

Open science, and in particular data sharing to improve research, has long been a theme of the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF). Most recently, a session at ESOF2020 discussed some learning from experience in the current Covid-19 pandemic. A link to the recording of the session ‘Open science in time of pandemics: the experience of the Research Data Alliance WG on COVID-19’ is provided below*.

Starting in March 2020, over a 3-month period several working groups were formed and many people were brought together to address the challenges of data sharing in the pandemic. It was an advantage that the Research Data Alliance (RDA) already existed (since 2013). There was also some collaboration between the RDA and the EOSC group (European Open Science Cloud – an infrastructure currently being developed). It was an intense 3-month period resulting in the release of a document produced to record and share the learning so that others can be more prepared in future. Key steps that were identified include the listing of data that can be trusted and the setting of standards for describing and defining data. An important consideration is that undue influence by any one particular jurisdiction should be avoided because the pandemic is affecting everyone and in many different ways.

The ESOF session included discussion of the kinds of collaboration needed. Cross-disciplinary interaction is very important in a pandemic because of the need to look at many different aspects. International aspects also need to be taken into account. Tools need to be able to quickly find out what is of use in such times of emergency. We may need better systems and infrastructure to handle pandemics in the future. Global problems have the challenges of harmonisation, and this might be facilitated by the development of appropriate frameworks.

The session also aimed to increase awareness of the existence of the document ‘RDA COVID-19 Recommendations and Guidelines on Data Sharing’ (reference below**)

A message for the future: Data sharing is possible and there are ways to do it; progress has been made because of this pandemic.

by Dr Julie Charlesworth 23/11/20

Sources and further reading:

ESOF2020 Press Conference September 2020

*ESOF2020 session ‘Open science in time of pandemics: the experience of the Research Data Alliance WG on COVID-19’

**RDA COVID-19 Working Group. Recommendations and Guidelines
on data sharing. Research Data Alliance. 2020. DOI: