Published July 10, 2024 | Version v1
Presentation Open

Small streams make big rivers: monitoring open science locally

  • 1. ROR icon Université de Lorraine


In many countries, national open science initiatives have been developed in order to provide political guidance as well as to encourage global action amongst research organizations. In France, the first National Open Science Plan in 2018 gave birth to an Open Science Monitor, whose purpose was to steer the progress of open access to publications through multiple dimensions: by year, publisher, type of publication, scientific field. This Monitor, produced by the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research, relied on an open methodology, open data and open source code.

These indicators were the first of their kind in France. Indeed, even if some tools, such as the Web of Science or Scopus, already provided some figures on open access, they were not accurate enough and, more importantly, the methodology used to create these figures was not open.

Openness leads to interest, exchange, reuse. The University of Lorraine was the first institution to reuse the national Monitor’s data, in order to create from scratch its own local Monitor. It was developed by the university libraries and made openly available. As a result, dozens of other universities and research organizations decided to reuse this work and create their own local Monitors, using the same methodology.

This community growing by the day, the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research and the University of Lorraine, who is steering the extension of the national Monitor to datasets and software, created a user’s club for the Monitor in 2022. Now this club gathers 220 individuals from very different structures (libraries, research units, research and evaluation departments…), thus creating an open community around the monitoring of open science in France.

As of today, 46 institutions have publicly released their local Monitor:

And nearly 200 French institutions reached out to the Ministry to have their indicators generated from the data they provided, even if their results are not made available openly.

In this paper I would like to address the following topics from the perspective of the first French university library that developed a local Monitor:

  • What is the role of university libraries in the development of open science indicators? As long-time supporters of open access and as creators of bibliometrics, libraries have legitimacy over these subjects, but they have to lead the way towards the use of open data versus proprietary databases.
  • What effects do local Monitors have on research support activities? As reliable indicators, they allow libraries to have a better understanding of the open science practices amongst scientific communities and to provide tailor-made support.
  • How should libraries communicate with research communities on these indicators without appearing to evaluate research units? To support cultural change, libraries should move with pedagogy and diplomacy. What is at stake here is a new approach of the necessary dialogue between librarians and researchers.
  • Lastly, how can we build a national network of local Monitors without fostering competition between universities? One of the answers would be to avoid building an open science ranking as harmful as some current rankings.



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