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The UOC reaffirms its commitment to open knowledge

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Review of the first 24 months of the Open Knowledge Action Plan as part of International Open Access Week

The University launches an internal participatory process to define a new open knowledge policy

The Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) currently shares over 8,500 final projects, over 2,000 scientific articles and over 150 doctoral theses in open access

The UOC's institutional repository, the O2, provides free access to over 2,000 scientific papers, over 150 doctoral theses, more than 80 books, in excess of 1,600 learning resources and more than 8,500 final projects produced by the University's students. These figures demonstrate the institution's firm commitment to sharing the knowledge generated at the University, a reality it has been working towards since 2018 with the implementation of its Open Knowledge Action Plan. This Plan is aimed at turning the University into an open, global knowledge hub and helping to find solutions to the global challenges faced by society.

As Pastora Martnez Samper, Vice President for Globalization and Cooperation, explained when the Plan was launched: "Our aim is to transform the UOC into an open hub that projects knowledge and is enriched by connecting with external contributions." She went on to underline the institution's desire to become a truly "global and social university, one that is more porous and participatory and contributes to overcoming international sustainability challenges, such as those identified in the UN's 2030 Agenda."

A plan consisting of nine core areas of activity

The UOC's Open Knowledge Action Plan is structured into six core areas for the promotion of open publications, open research data, open learning, open innovation, a university open to society and new research assessment models, in addition to a further three universal branches of work focused on training, communication and awareness raising in this area; open infrastructure development; and participation in leading forums with regard to this reality.

Nadja Gmelch, director of Open Knowledge Projects, has been working on the implementation of the Action Plan, jointly coordinated by Globalization and Cooperation and Library and Learning Resources, since its launch. According to Ms Gmelch, "the Plan asserts the University's commitment to a model that promotes scientific knowledge as a public good and emphasizes the visibility and relevance of the UOC's research and learning programmes." To that end, the University has signed the San Francisco Declaration (DORA), an international movement to promote a new system for the assessment of research based on scientific quality. "We have begun to apply this criterion in our internal calls for research activity funding applications," Gmelch added. With regard to scientific projects, the University also requires its research data to be generated in line with the FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable) data principles, resulting in the development of six open access datasets related to its research, for which the institution has now set up a FAIR Research Data Management Support Service. "The aim is that, by 2030, all the data produced as part of the UOC's research projects will adhere to these principles," explained Library and Learning Resources manager and recent recruit to the Action Plan coordination team, Gema Santos.

Other examples of initiatives that have been implemented include the EU-funded project CIRCLET, which promotes the co-creation of knowledge between university faculties to address social issues, and the promotion of participatory final bachelor's and master's degree projects as an opportunity for students to carry out applied research and propose solutions and recommendations that address specific problems within our society. Various series of informative lectures were organized in partnership with Barcelona's Sala Beckett theatre (Memento mori; Res no s mentida (Nothing is a Lie); Terrors de la ciutat. Escenaris de conflicte i de por (City Terrors. Scenes of Conflict and Fear); and  Les condicions del cervell (Conditions of the Brain)), as well as for the Phenomena film season, the Biennials of Thought and Science debates in Barcelona, ​​and festivals, such as Ars Electronica, in order to increase the University's presence in other non-academic spaces within the community.

The UOC's commitment to open innovation has also been reflected, with the consolidation of the Hubbik virtual incubator to support entrepreneurship, with its community of more than 120 entrepreneurs, and its Invergy investment vehicle for funding start-ups aligned with the values supported by the institution. Another initiative related to this area was the creation of the Gabriel Ferrat Challenge – named in honour of the UOC's founding president – in conjunction with the Universitat Politcnica de Catalunya (UPC) to promote the development of solutions to address social challenges. The first of these challenges was focused on how technology can be used to help people who are suffering from loneliness.

In order to raise awareness and provide training on the different issues related to open knowledge, the UOC organized two courses on Responsible Research and Innovation for Researchers, in which more than 30 people from the University participated, as well as numerous initiatives implemented over the course of previous International Open Access Weeks. The importance of the University's focus on open knowledge is also included as a key part of its Communication Plan for research and innovation.

 

Leading the way in open science

In line with the development of the Open Knowledge Action Plan, the UOC has also established itself as a leading force in Europe with regard to the promotion of open science. This is demonstrated by the Vice President for Globalization and Cooperation's participation in the European University Association (EUA) Expert Group on Open Science, as a representative of Crue Universidades Espaolas, as well as her involvement with the Open Science Group in Catalonia and the Open Science Commission (COS) of both the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation and the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT). The UOC also reaffirms its commitment to open science with the aim of making all its scientific publications open access by 2030. "Currently more than 52% of our University's scientific papers are published as open-access," Gema Santos confirmed.

 

Open knowledge in times of pandemic

The University's commitment to open knowledge did not stop with the onset of the current pandemic. In fact, as a result of the impact of COVID-19 on areas such as education, the UOC decided to organize a series of webinars to support remote emergency teaching, which were attended by close to 10,000 people, as well as developing the  Connectad@s, la universidad en casa educational portal, with the Ministry of Universities and Crue Universidades Espaolas, to support the transition from traditional classroom to online teaching.

The institution has also been supporting the Desafios Comunes (Common Challenges) initiative launched by the Frena la Curva organization, a citizen platform that calls on people to pool their efforts to combat the current coronavirus pandemic.

 

New policy

To mark this year's International Open Access Week (19-25 October), the UOC is planning to launch an internal, transparent and collaborative participatory process to define, implement and disseminate a new open knowledge policy involving the participation of its teaching and research staff. The aim is to adapt the current policy, drawn up in 2010, to the advances made in the fields of open access and open science in recent years. Thus, the new policy will correspond to the current Open Knowledge Action Plan, which, as those responsible for its coordination pointed out, "goes beyond providing open access to scientific publications, incorporating a broad definition of what making the UOC into an open university means."

The University is keen to capitalize on this internal process as an opportunity to increase awareness among members of its community, particularly those on the academic side, about this issue and about the institution's commitment to open knowledge. As the coordination team went on to explain, the UOC is thereby hoping to, "promote acceptance and subsequent compliance with the new policy by involving key people in the participatory process and put the basic values of the Open Knowledge Action Plan into practice."

 

UOC R&I 

The UOC’s research and innovation (R&I) contribute to solving the challenges facing the global societies of the 21st century by studying ICTs’ interactions with human activity, with a specific focus on e-learning and e-health. Over 400 researchers and 50 research groups work among the University's seven faculties and three research centres: the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3), the eLearn Center (eLC) and the eHealth Center (eHC).

The United Nations 2030 Agenda's Sustainable Development Goals and open knowledge provide strategic pillars on which the UOC's teaching, research and innovation are built. More information: research.uoc.edu.

#UOCexperts

Nadja Gmelch

Director of Open Knowledge Projects

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Gema Santos

Specialist at the Library and Learning Resources

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