Open Science in Horizon Europe – What’s new?

Open science is a policy priority and a method to improve the quality and efficiency of research for the European Commission. Horizon Europe, the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation 2021-2027, raises the level of ambition from its predecessor Horizon 2020 and moves beyond open access to integrate a more holistic approach to open science – from the proposal stage to project reporting.

When planning a Horizon Europe proposal, you will notice that open science practices are reflected in the proposal template and considered in the evaluation of proposals, under two sections: ‘Excellence’ and the ‘Quality and efficiency of implementation’. In addition, in part A online administrative forms you are asked to list up to five relevant publications, widely used datasets or other achievements of consortium members that you consider significant for the action proposed. These are expected to adhere to open science principles.

Horizon Europe distinguishes between mandatory and recommended open science practices, both of which are necessary to consider if you want to score high in the evaluation. How to do this? We asked two University of Oulu experts, Miki Kallio and Egle Gedrimiene, to walk us through the fundamentals of Open Science.

What does Open Science mean?

This is quite a tricky question. Open Science is an umbrella term that covers many recommendations for responsible changes in research practices, management, assessment, and publishing with the aim to increase accessibility and transparency of research. The term “open” is somewhat misleading, because the movement is more about good and responsible practices in science. It doesn’t only mean open access to scientific publications, but also transparency in experimental methodology, observations, data collection and e.g. public availability and reusability of research data, code, educational resources and, even hardware.

Why is Open Science more emphasized in Horizon Europe than in its predecessor H2020?

In Horizon 2020, open science meant practically the same as open access publishing. Although Horizon Europe is a continuation of its predecessor, its vision on open science is more comprehensive. Open science is now a policy priority for the European Commission as it improves the quality, efficiency and responsiveness of research.

Worldwide crises and disasters highlight the need for and importance of free information sharing and collaborative effort to overcome global challenges. Sharing of knowledge and data as early as possible in the research process helps to disseminate the latest knowledge. And if partners from across academia, industry, public authorities, and citizens are involved in the research process, creativity and trust in science will increase. That is why EC requires beneficiaries of research and innovation funding to make their publications available in open access but also manage their data and other research outputs in line with FAIR principles. In addition, HE recognizes and rewards the engagement of citizens and society, preregistration, open peer-review etc.

What is the difference between mandatory and recommended open science practices?

It is true that Horizon Europe distinguishes between mandatory and recommended open science practices. However, it is important to notice that the integration of not only mandatory but also recommended practices will be necessary to obtain a good evaluation score.

There are currently three mandatory Open Science practices, which must be addressed in Horizon Europe funding applications and implemented in a course of a funded project. These are responsible management of research data in line with FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) principles, open access of research outputs (including publications, data, software or other important outputs), and reproducibility of research outputs (includes information about the outputs, contexts and instruments needed to validate research results, or to re-use data). Proposers should provide concrete information on how to comply with the mandatory open science practices. If this isn’t addressed adequately, the score will be lower. Then there are also recommended practices, such as involving citizens, early and open sharing of research, output management beyond research data, open peer-review etc. This is a non-exhaustive list of practices that are expected to be adopted when possible and appropriate for the project. A clear explanation of these will result in a higher evaluation score.

It is also good to notice that some open science practices are mandatory per specific work programmes or call conditions, which may include additional obligations to adhere to open science practices.

What has changed in how you should address open science practices in your proposal from H2020 to Horizon Europe?

A great many things have changed.

Providing immediate open access, under an open license (e.g., CC BY), to peer-reviewed publications and related research data (at the latest at the time of publication) are mandatory in Horizon Europe, as well as the information about the research outputs, tools and instruments needed to validate the conclusions of scientific publications or to validate/re-use research data. These were not included in H2020. Unlike in H2020 trusted repositories assume a central role in Horizon Europe for the deposition of and access to publications and research data.

As mentioned in the question before, HE has some mandatory practices which were part of the H2020 Data Pilot: Access to research data under the principle "as open as possible, as closed as necessary", Management of research data and metadata of all research outputs in line with FAIR principles, and Data management plan (DMP).

In addition, the immediate access to all research outputs in the cases of public emergency, if requested by the granting authority is now mandatory.

New recommended practices are: Early and open sharing of research, including preregistration, registered reports, pre-prints, crowd-sourcing, etc., Participation in open peer-review, and Involving all relevant knowledge actors including citizens, civil society and end users in the co-creation of R&I agendas and contents (such as citizen science).

There is also a change related to the publication fees. In H2020 all open access publication fees were reimbursable, but in HE the publication fees are reimbursable only if the publishing venue offers full open access (i.e. publication fees in hybrids are not reimbursed).

What help is available for a University of Oulu researcher struggling to integrate open science principles into the different sections of the research proposal? Or researcher whose project has been funded and should now make a data management plan (DMP) and ensure that the project meets the contractual requirements with regards open science?

There are several lines of support available at the University of Oulu. Researchers can always get guidance from data management specialists working in the faculties. Data management specialist can provide comments and suggestions to data management plans during the application rounds and after project has been funded. In addition, we have a service address, which was originally created as a support service for Horizon Europe calls. Through it, researchers can ask help with open science questions in the application process.

Does the University of Oulu have a policy for Open Science? What does it mean in practice?

Yes, we have, but we have quite many other relevant policies too. At the top level is the Declaration on responsible science that sets out the values associated with responsible science at our university. In addition, we have 6 policies related to open and responsible science. It may be hard to believe, but they are really meant to support day-to-day research practices. Adherence to the policies supports the researchers in doing science responsibly, and, on the other hand, policies describe how the university is committed to supporting the researchers. The policies also create a good basis for funding applications as they comply with the requirements of the largest funders.

Some useful information for those who wish to familiarize more with Open Sciences ideas and practices can be found here: What is Open Science? Introduction | FOSTER (

Experts interviewed:
Dr. Miki Kallio
works as Special adviser at the Unit for Strategy and Science Policy. He has extensive experience in the field of open and responsible science.

Egle Gedrimiene provides support on research data management and data privacy for researchers in the Faculty of Education. She is fascinated by the idea of open science and enthusiastic to help researchers moving towards more open research practices.

Blog editors:
Kirsi Ojutkangas works as Research Funding Specialist at the University of Oulu. She is passionate about research impact and currently diving deep into the new Horizon Europe funding programme.

Janika Luukinen is a Research Funding Specialist at the Research and Project Services. She is an EU enthusiast dedicated to making brilliant research ideas meet the EU's expectations.