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European Science System

Greater transparency and understanding of Europe's science system can improve the relationship between science and society. This means greater effort is required to strengthen specific aspects of the system's own economy, regulations and habits. In this respect, activities under the Science in Society (SIS) Programme have focused on three key areas of interest: open access, scientific advice and risk management, and integrity of research.

Open access

'Open access' refers to the practice of granting free access over the Internet to research articles. As all research and innovation builds on earlier achievements, an efficient system for broad dissemination of (and access to) research publications and data can accelerate scientific progress.

Scientific advice and risk management

Expertise, and more specifically scientific expertise, is increasingly becoming fundamental to the design, implementation and assessment of public policies.

Under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), the European Commission provided further support to the SINAPSE (Scientific Information for Policy Support in Europe) e-Network. This web-based communication platform offers a set of tools to promote and encourage the effective exchange of information between all stakeholders concerned with the use of science in European governance.

The European Commission has also supported specific projects favouring a common reflection at European level on scientific advice. For example, the projects SAFMAMS (Scientific Advice for Fisheries Management on Multiple Scales, funded under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6)) and GAP1 (Bridging the Gap between Science and Stakeholders: Phase I Common Ground, funded under FP7) have brought together diverse stakeholders and drawn lessons directly impacting the governance of future fisheries activities in Europe.

Similarly, other FP6 projects have explored the ways in which risks potentially associated to science and technological progress and innovation were communicated, and inclusively assessed and managed. These projects include STARC, (Stakeholders in Risk Communications), MIDIR (Multidimensional Integrated Risk Governance) and RISKBRIDGE (Building Robust, Integrative Interdisciplinary, Governance Models for Emerging and Existing Risks).

Integrity of research

Scientific integrity is generally looked at in a holistic way, encompassing the ideals of what constitutes 'good science' and a 'good scientist'. It encompasses aspects of both governance (e.g. peer review, authorship, whistle blowing, and code of conduct) and ethics (e.g. honesty, fraud, conflict of interest, and professional responsibility).

To date, scientific integrity is mostly addressed at the level of institutions and scientific societies (i.e. self regulation). There are, nevertheless, notable examples of national regulations and institutions that have a policing role (e.g. UK Research Integrity Office). This report ( 168KB) outlines the main reflections of the experts that were invited to provide guidance on the key issues with regard to integrity in research.

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