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Barcelona Declaration: important step for VU towards open research information

16 April 2024
On April 16, 2024, more than 40 institutions from various countries have signed the so-called Barcelona Declaration on Open Research Information. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam was one of the organisations that laid the foundation for this declaration in November 2023. Together with the other signatories, VU Amsterdam states that open research information should become the norm to evaluate research in a more responsible way and promote open science. The institutions involved are taking the lead in transforming the landscape of research information.

In its work, VU Amsterdam makes extensive use of metadata about researchers, publications, research software, research data, knowledge institutions and research support organisations. To handle this research information responsibly and honestly, it is important to work towards open and transparent research information. As an institution, VU Amsterdam has already embarked on this path, including by making standard use of open alternatives such as OpenAlex and OpenAire in analyses of the impact of research. It is also in line with the objectives of the international Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment (CoARA), to which VU Amsterdam also belongs.

Four principles
VU Amsterdam is now taking the next step by collaborating as a co-author of the Barcelona Declaration with a group of institutions that also want to work from open principles to improve open research information.

We do this by committing to the four principles of the declaration:

  1. open research information becomes the norm
  2. (collaborate with) services and systems that support and enable open research information
  3. support sustainable infrastructures for open research information
  4. collaborate on the transition from closed to open research information

Joining this coalition of institutions fits into VU Amsterdam's vision, in which knowledge equity is important and diversity is a spearhead. Jeroen Geurts, Rector Magnificus of VU Amsterdam: "Signing the Barcelona Declaration is a logical step from the core values of VU Amsterdam: responsible, open and personal. By paying more attention to open research information, we break down the barriers that commercial parties erect for research institutes with few financial resources, mostly outside the Western world. VU Amsterdam thus takes its responsibility to ensure a level playing field in which research information is accessible to all."

Closed information
At this point, much of the existing research information is still managed by commercial parties and only by paying can VU Amsterdam make full use of this data. Only based on this closed information, the university can assess researchers and research organisations well. An additional disadvantage is that the research information collected by these commercial parties gives a one-sided picture of the scientific world, e.g. by insufficiently considering information in languages other than those usual for science or information from less privileged regions of the world.

The Barcelona Declaration was drafted by 25 experts in research information at a workshop in the Spanish city in November 2023. VU Amsterdam was involved from that first phase, together with Leiden University, among others. Later, more signatories from the Netherlands joined, including Rijksuniversiteit Groningen and research funders Dutch Research Council (NWO) and ZonMw.

Would you like to know more about the Barcelona Declaration on Open Research Information?

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This is a picture of Joeri Both. He is member of the management team of the University Library, and Head of Research Support.