Statement from the International Science Council delegation to the UNESCO Special Committee meeting on Open Science, 6-12 May 2021

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Open Science and the UNESCO initiative

Scientific inquiry has long been a self-organized enterprise. Governments, funders and universities may all, from time to time, have prescribed priorities for scientific inquiry, but scientists themselves have largely determined how inquiries should be conducted. In the process they have created and stewarded their own organizations: learned societies, academies, and centres within the generally flexible framework of their universities.

Principles of self-organization have been sustained even as governments have increasingly recognized the value of science in promoting national agendas. Common implicit, and sometimes explicit, premisses have been that whilst governments may articulate their priorities and set research budgets, decisions on how resources are expended, and how research is organized are best left to researchers, and that giving scientists the freedom to follow their inspiration is the best way to maximize the return on society’s investment in research.

Thus, the social organization of the scientific effort in addressing increasingly complex, interdisciplinary problems or strategic research priorities has been largely left to researchers. This self-organization has developed in a way that maintains a creative tension between, on the one hand, competition for esteem and funding, and on the other hand, cooperation to achieve deeper more widely applicable understanding. It is a balance of drivers that has served the enterprise well, whether at the level of individuals, national science systems or international science collaborations, whilst also serving the interests of multiple stakeholders….

Read and Download the full statement here…