CERN-NASA Open Science Summit 2023


CERN and NASA join forces to commit to a research future that is open and accessible for all

This year, 2023, has been declared the Year of Open Science. This is why, for the first time, over 100 open science practitioners and policy-makers gathered at CERN’s Globe of Science and Innovation from 10 to 14 July. Co-organised by CERN, Europe’s leading particle physics laboratory, and NASA, the USA’s largest scientific agency, it brought together experts to discuss and learn how scientific bodies can promote and accelerate the adoption of open science. Over 70 different institutes were represented from five different continents.

Open science is when institutes make their research freely available to other scientists and collaborators and, to some extent, the public. This encompasses sharing data from experiments, open-source hardware, open-source software and open infrastructure. It also involves a commitment to education and outreach. These should all be made available according to FAIR – findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable – practices, leading to ease of collaboration, reproducibility of scientific results and efficient advancement of science.

In the context of the global challenges we face, it has never been a more appropriate time to push for a way of doing science that is more open and collaborative. “In late 2022, a small group got together and started thinking: CERN and NASA both have open science policies. What can we do to push open science forward and make a difference?” explains Chelle Gentemann, leader of NASA’s Transform to Open Science mission and conference co-chair. While NASA and CERN are both large scientific organisations with already-developed open science policies, many attendees of the conference came from institutes that are just beginning to bring these values to the forefront of their organisations. However, the summit offered an opportunity for all to learn from each other and harmonise open science practices across borders.

The conference itself consisted of daily talks, each focused on a different aspect of open science. Those plenary talks and panel discussions were broadcasted to 200 registered remote participants. Crucially, the afternoons were reserved for more hands-on workshops and for opportunities for representatives from different institutions to dive into how open science works in action, according to their own specific laws, limitations and sensitivities.

“We’re having conversations that many people here have not necessarily had before, and addressing issues that may not yet have been addressed,” says Kamran Naim, Head of Open Science at CERN and conference co-chair. “As an organisation, we believe we have an obligation to share what we have learned and our technologies like Zenodo across the scientific community, not because it’s the politically right thing to do for CERN, but because it’s the right thing to do for science.”

While the concept of open science is relatively new, the same values of openness and collaboration have been enshrined in the CERN Convention since its creation in 1953. “CERN is an example of the power of collaboration,” says Charlotte Warakaulle, CERN Director for International Relations. “We need to work together to promote open science. We hope this summit will serve to foster new links and new collaborations in support of open science.”

While it is the first of its kind, this summit marks the beginning of a work in progress: a new era where open, FAIR, efficient and collaborative science can be practised in the same way across borders and disciplines. The team hope to follow up with the participants in six months’ time to see how open science has been implemented in their institutes. “We hope that this conference offers the opportunity to engage and develop links in open science across diverse groups,” says Kevin Murphy, Chief Science Data Officer at NASA. “We need everyone to be able to transform to an open, equitable and transformative scientific future.”