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Resolution of the Council of Ministers

The Programme of the XXI Constitutional Government proclaims knowledge as a determining condition for the promotion of development and well-being, considering access to its fruition as an inalienable right of Portuguese citizens.

Scientific knowledge constitutes a good of greater magnitude, a public good, which belongs to everyone and should benefit and be made available to all. As a common good, its promotion is crucial and it should have a central role in public policies.

Knowledge belongs to all and is for all and public policies in this domain must be oriented by this guiding principle.

This guiding principle transforms open access sharing of all produced knowledge in an imperative. Above all else, knowledge production which has been funded with public resources should be possible to reuse in agreement with the principles internationally recognised.

Making science more open and accessible to all represents a collective political, cultural, economic and social challenge.

Promotion and uphold of a generalized Open Science practice means the adoption of a scientific policy compromised with a knowledge sharing paradigm, closing the gap between science and society, engaging its diverse components in the formulation of research agendas, as well as in collaborative and participative research processes and in the search for joint answers to the challenges and problems ahead. The creation of conditions and effective knowledge access and sharing mechanisms democratizes knowledge itself and contributes to equality in training and scientific capacitation, making knowledge transfer possible and stimulating social appropriation of science.

Implementation of Open Science involves the incorporation of methodologies, tools and practices of a collaborative nature. It also requires the compromise of the diverse agents involved in production, dissemination and knowledge use.

This reinforces transparency, integrity and reproducibility of science, thus promoting a more efficient and sustainable scientific practice, namely at the level of rationale of publication, dissemination and communication. Open Science means more than the selective sharing of data and publications, represents the opening of the scientific process as a whole, reinforcing the concept of social scientific responsibility.

Amplifying scientific knowledge transfer to society and companies, making it accessible in an adequate way, will stimulate innovation processes, reinforce the social impact of research and contribute to its valorisation and recognition, putting science back in its natural context: society.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN General Assembly, on the 10th December 1948, elevated the right of participation in scientific progress to the level of human right. As written in its article 27 «Everyone has the right to freely participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits».

At the supranational level, institutions such as European Union, Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development and UNESCO have been assuming leadership in the definition and promotion of Open Science, also as spaces of cooperation and coordination of the diverse national initiatives that have been developed.

Within the scope of the European Union this vision has been reflected in the elaboration of juridical instruments with impact in the incentive to making available scientific research results through, for example, the European Commission Recommendation about access to scientific information and its preservation (2012/417/EU) as well as most recently the Directive 2013/37/EU, from the European Parliament and Council (26th June 2013) concerning public sector information reuse.

On its turn, the Lisbon Treaty presents its own juridical basis for the creation of a European Research Area, strongly reinforcing European Union action in the domain of research and technological development. In matters of research and development policy (R&D), the Treaty of Functioning of the European Union states that «The Union shall have the objective of strengthening its scientific and technological bases by achieving a European research area in which researchers, scientific knowledge and technology circulate freely (…)», the so-called “European Union fifth freedom».

At the international level, diverse initiatives have been launched that seek to promote the transition to Open Science. Countries such as Finland, Denmark, Holland, Germany, Austria, United States and Japan, among others, have developed efforts towards the creation of open access national strategies, coordinated at ministry level or even engaging different ministries, with a strong investment in the training and infrastructure components.

These actions of systemic character are of vital importance, emphasizing the need to define the norms and the legal structure for the promotion and monitoring of Open Science. They also promote articulation of efforts at the level of the investment in infrastructures and development of transversal competences, namely in what concerns matters related with the digital agenda.

International experiences show a clear policy coordination around institutional open access policy definition in what concerns research results financed by public funds.

Access to knowledge and to information, as well as access to training and the right to its creation and fruition, are specifically outlined in the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic, be it in the dispositions that integrate rights, freedoms and guarantees (articles 37.º, 42.º and 43.º), or in the economic, social and cultural rights and duties (articles 73.º and 78.º). Still at the national level, the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, I. P. (FCT I. P.) (the national research council), has had a fundamental role, assuming a substantive part of the scientific community costs of access the most read scientific publications, introducing, however, the compulsory deposit of publications resulting from projects financed with public funds in the Portuguese Open Access Scientific Repository, encouraging open access dissemination of scientific data funded by FCT I.P.

However, as it happens in other national contexts, financial pressure is increasing by a smaller and smaller number of editors holding the credits of scientific publication. To this trend, one should add models of scientific evaluation that privilege publication in this restricted number of scientific journals, often to the detriment of other more adequate evaluation criteria in diverse scientific domains.

From the legislative point of view, the biggest impact in matters of open access results from the Law nº 115/2013, 7th August, which expects PhD theses, research works which have already been published in journals with selection committees of recognized international merit, works or developments with innovative character and master degree dissertations are subject to compulsory deposit of a digital copy in a repository that integrates the network of the Portuguese Open Access Scientific Repository, operated by FCT I.P. This law was then strengthened with the entry into force of the Technical Regulation of the Thesis Deposit and PhD works and dissertations and master’s degree works, through the ministerial order nº 285/2015, 15th September 2015.

Also in the Specific Regulation within the Domain of Competitiveness and Internationalization, within the scope of Portugal 2020, it is mentioned the need to «ensure, in conditions to be defined, open and free access to all scientific publications (peer-reviewed) developed by R&D projects» (articles 75.º and 120.º).

To all this when can add the relevance of scientific production in Portuguese language, the interest of providing the widest possible valorization and dissemination internationally and, in particular, between countries that have Portuguese as the official language, promoting dialogue and common sharing between digital knowledge repositories of Official Portuguese Language Speaking Countries.

The promotion of Open Science is also a national identity expression and affirmation, a powerful way of contributing to the valorization and recognition of Portuguese science and a stimulus to its constant amplification and renovation, as well as a privileged means of scientific and cultural external policy.

Access to science and knowledge is essential to a better informed society and more conscious of the world which inhabits, contributing to make it more humane, fair and more democratic and where welfare can be shared by all.

In this way:

In the terms of point g) of article 199.º of the Constitution, the Council of Ministers decided to:

  1. Approve, as guiding principles for the implementation of an Open Science National Policy, that the State and other collective public entities which integrate its indirect administration, take up, in the development of their attributions:

  • Open access to publications resulting from research financed by public funds;

  • Open access to scientific data resulting from research financed by public funds;

  • The guarantee of preservation of publications and scientific data as a way of allowing the reuse and continued access.

  1. Establish that a dissemination and public discussion effort be developed, over the objectives and priorities to be considered on the configuration of an Open Science National Policy, from which a in Portugal should be produced;

  2. To mandate the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education to create an Interministerial Working Group, having as a mission to present, until the end of 2016, a a proposal for a Strategic Plan for the implementation of a National Policy of Open Science and that should have as main objectives:

  • Elaborate a diagnostic about the current state of Open Science practices in Portugal;

  • Promote public debate around the main issues associated with Open Science;

  • Identify best practices around Open Science and develop awareness programs;

  • Define indicators with the goal to promote a monitored and transparent transition to Open Science.


Presidency of the Council of Ministers, 24th March 2016




The Prime-Minister

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