NWO and ZonMw sign declaration to promote open research information

The Dutch Research Council (NWO) and ZonMw (the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research) are both signatories to the Barcelona Declaration on Open Research Information published April 16. This new initiative aims to promote the openness of research information and specifically, the openness of bibliographic metadata. This makes it part of the wider open science movement.

Research information - that is, data about research - plays a crucial role in research policy and analysis globally. These data include, for example, information about researchers, scientific outputs, their use and impact (but not research data). The problem is that much of this data is behind a paywall from commercial providers. Moreover, it is widely known that these databases are highly biased against non-English material, and publications from non-Western countries. 

There is no open science without open metadata. If we want to assess research in a transparent and responsible way, in line with open science principles, it is imperative that also this kind of bibliographic metadata should be openly available. We all believe publications should be open access; why not the metadata about these publications?
Hans de Jonge
Director of Open Science NL, part of NWO

Barcelona Declaration

The Barcelona Declaration calls on institutions to collaborate in making research information openly available through open infrastructure. By signing it, NWO and ZonMw and the other signatories commit to use open (meta)data in cases where they use these data for policy evaluation and assessment. Additionally where NWO and ZonMw are themselves producers of such data, they will share it as openly as possible. 

This is in line with steps NWO and ZonMw have already taken in the recent past, for example with the move to using open data for their open access monitor, in providing open data about funded projects via the NWO Open API and NWO's persistent identifier strategy. For a number of years NWO has supported international open science infrastructures such as Crossref, the Initiative for Open Citations, Public Knowledge Project and the Directory for Open Access Journals.

Open alternatives

The signing of the Barcelona Declaration has no consequences for the use of closed proprietary bibliographic databases by NWO- and ZonMw-funded researchers. In their assessment procedures, both research funders will also sometimes still have to rely on applications that use closed metadata, for example when checking conflicts of interest of referees. However, NWO and ZonMw - together with the other signatories - will investigate the use of open alternatives. In that context, NWO has also decided to enter a strategic collaboration with OpenAlex, one of the largest fully open bibliographic databases in the world.

NWO and OpenAlex explore collaborations

OpenAlex is the largest open, free-to-use, bibliographic database of scholarly literature in the world. OpenAlex contains metadata on 250 million publications, authors, institutions and topics. OpenAlex is provided by the nonprofit organisation Our Research, which is also the provider of Unpaywall, the main open data source for open access publications. In the coming period, NWO and Our Research will explore, among other things, how NWO-funded research can be made even more findable through OpenAlex. 

Open Science

Open science increases the impact of scientific research, but it also leads to more quality and reliability and with that to more trust and public support for science. This is why NWO and ZonMw have long been committed to making all research funded by NWO and ZonMw openly accessible. 

Portretfoto van Arfan Ikram
The signing of this declaration by ZonMw and NWO emphasizes the organisations' commitment to open science and their efforts to make research data accessible to a wider audience.
Arfan Ikram
Chairman of ZonMw's Board and member of NWO's Executive Board

More information about the Barcelona Declaration: https://barcelona-declaration.org/