Public Round Table

Open Science: Legal Framework and Practical Challenges in the Digital Age


Barbara Sanchez Solis, Head of Center for Research Data Management, Technical University of Vienna
Michael Strassnig, Deputy Managing Director of Vienna Science and Technology Fund GmbH (WWTF) & Programme Manager, research platform “Registerforschung”
Petra Schaper Rinkel, Professor of Science and Technology Studies of Digital Transformation, Director Idea Lab - The Interdisciplinary Digital Lab of the University of Graz
Ronald Maier, Vice-Rector for Digitalisation and Knowledge Transfer, University of Vienna

hosted by
Katja Mayer, Research Platform Governance of Digital Practices, University of Vienna
Žiga Škorjanc, Department of Innovation and Digitalisation in Law, University of Vienna

in cooperation with the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research

With the advent of AI and thus the ability of algorithms to learn independently, and the troubling amount of bias in such systems, new and robust forms of open knowledge production are important. Open Science and Open Data provide such opportunities for a transparent handling of knowledge and facts. Open Science aims to enhance the quality and transparency of research by promoting rigorous methodologies, accountability, and reproducibility. It is founded on the principles of inclusivity, fairness, equity, and sharing, and seeks to revolutionise research practices, participation, and evaluation. Therefore, the principles of Open Science have the potential to contribute to better law-making, particularly in the digital sphere.

Whereas Open Science provides a multitude of benefits for the scholarly system, it also presents a number of legal challenges. One key challenge that immediately comes to mind is balancing the desire for transparency and accessibility with the need to protect intellectual property and respect copyright law, especially in the highly competitive scholarly system. Besides these most obvious legal areas, there are many other - often marginalised - issues in regard to data protection, competition and contracts. Now that copyright and data legislative frameworks are being renegotiated internationally, is the window of opportunity to learn from experience and create effective solutions (see also ERA Policy Agenda). 

The public round table will bring together stakeholders to discuss legal challenges and opportunities for Open Science, including the creation of an ethical, legal, and secure environment for research. Participants will consider how the legal framework can provide legal certainty for researchers and promote trust in scientific output. They will also explore the role of digital technology as a transformative factor and a catalyst for Open Science. Through these discussions, the conference aims to foster awareness and promote Open Science in legal sciences, but also to contribute to tackling legal challenges of open digital scientific practices.