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Canada

Increase Openness of Federal Science Activities (Open Science) (CA0055)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Canada Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Environment and Climate Change Canada; Innovation, Science, and Economic Development

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, Environment and Climate, Fiscal Openness, Public Participation, Public Service Delivery, Publication of Budget/Fiscal Information, Science & Technology

IRM Review

IRM Report: Canada End-Term Report 2016-2018, Canada Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Outstanding Outstanding

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Increase Openness of Federal Science Activities (Open Science) Why do this: The Government of Canada undertakes a wide range of scientific activities, making significant investments in scientific research and knowledge creation that are essential for informing policy choices or decision making, providing services to Canadians, and ultimately supporting sustainable economic growth. At the same time, the Government highlighted its commitment to ensuring that government science is fully available to the public, consistent with its broader pledge for openness and transparency. How will it be done: Horizontal implementation of the federal open science initiative began in 2012. Under the new Plan, the Government of Canada wants to build on past work by taking bold steps to make government-funded science open and transparent to Canadians. Reflecting the importance of citizen engagement and collaboration, deliverables will focus on increasing the accessibility of government science, helping to ensure Canadians are informed of opportunities to engage in federal science and technology (S&T) activities, and exploring ways to enhance the impact of government data and information. Underscoring the government’s commitment to open science at the recent meeting of G7 Science and Technology Ministers, Canada supported a recommendation to establish an international working group on open science. This group would focus on sharing open science policies, exploring supportive incentive structures, and identifying good practices for promoting increased access to the results of publicly funded research, including scientific data and publications.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

14. Increase Openness of Federal Science Activities (Open Science)

Commitment Text:

The Government of Canada will take appropriate steps to make the science performed in support of Government of Canada programs and decision-making open and transparent to Canadians.

Milestones:

Science-based Departments and Agencies

14.1. Create a Chief Science Officer mandated to ensure that government science is fully available to the public, that scientists are able to speak freely about their work, and that scientific analyses are considered when the government makes decisions.

14.2. Increase the public availability of data and publications produced from federal Science and Technology (S&T) activities.

14.3. Increase engagement with Canadians on federal S&T activities, including, as appropriate:

Enhanced communication of scientific participation opportunities in support of federal S&T activities; and

Targeted consultations on best practices for increasing the impact of federal S&T activities.

14.4. Develop metrics to track collective federal progress on open science activities.

Granting Councils and Grants and Contributions

14.5. Develop and implement an open access policy for scientific research funded through grants and contributions.

14.6. Work toward the development of policies on digital data management for research funded through the Granting Councils.

Responsible institutions: Environment and Climate Change Canada; Innovation, Science, and Economic Development

Supporting institutions: Science-based departments and agencies

Start date: Not specified

End date: Not specified

Editorial Note: The text of the commitment was abridged for formatting reasons. For full commitment text, visit: http://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/Canada_AP3.pdf.

Context and Objectives

Under the previous government, there was widespread evidence of government scientists being 'muzzled' by a strict communications policy.[Note114: See: http://www.pipsc.ca/portal/page/portal/website/issues/science/bigchill and https://evidencefordemocracy.ca/sites/default/files/reports/Can%20Scientists%20Speak_.pdf.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

14. Increase Openness of Federal Science Activities (Open Science)

Commitment Text:

The Government of Canada will take appropriate steps to make the science performed in support of Government of Canada programs and decision-making open and transparent to Canadians.

Milestones:

Science-based Departments and Agencies

14.1. Create a Chief Science Officer mandated to ensure that government science is fully available to the public, that scientists are able to speak freely about their work, and that scientific analyses are considered when the government makes decisions.

14.2. Increase the public availability of data and publications produced from federal Science and Technology (S&T) activities.

14.3. Increase engagement with Canadians on federal S&T activities, including, as appropriate:

Enhanced communication of scientific participation opportunities in support of federal S&T activities; and

Targeted consultations on best practices for increasing the impact of federal S&T activities.

14.4. Develop metrics to track collective federal progress on open science activities.

Granting Councils and Grants and Contributions

14.5. Develop and implement an open access policy for scientific research funded through grants and contributions.

14.6. Work toward the development of policies on digital data management for research funded through the Granting Councils.

Responsible institutions: Environment and Climate Change Canada; Innovation, Science, and Economic Development

Supporting institutions:Science-based departments and agencies

Start Date: Not specified

End Date: Not specified

Editorial Note: The text of the commitment was abridged for formatting reasons. For full commitment text, visit http://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/Canada_AP3.pdf.

Commitment Aim

This commitment includes deliverables which are targeted toward increasing the accessibility of government science. Such accessibility will help to ensure Canadians are informed of opportunities to engage in federal science and technology (S&T) activities and can explore ways to enhance the impact of government data and information. The commitment specifically pledges to:

Create a chief science officer;

Increase the public availability of data and publications produced from federal S&T activities;

Increase engagement with Canadians on federal S&T activities;

Develop metrics to track collective federal progress on open science activities;

Develop and implement an open access policy for scientific research funded through grants and contributions; and

Work toward the development of policies on digital data management for research funded through the Granting Councils.

Status

Midterm: Substantial

The government completed the selection process for the chief science officer (Milestone 14.1) by June 2017. The process led to the appointment of Mona Nemer to the position shortly after the first year of implementation.[Note115: Ivan Semeniuk, 'Ottawa Researcher Mona Nemer Named Canada's New Science Advisor,' Globe and Mail, 26 September 2017, https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/mona-nemer-named-canadas-new-science-advisor/article36401427/.] Regarding Milestone 14.2, the government launched the Federal Science Library in March 2017. As of June 2017, the library hosted research and resources from seven departmental libraries.[Note116: Available at “Federal Science Library,” Government of Canada, http://science-libraries.canada.ca/eng/home/.] Under Milestone 14.3, Environment and Climate Change Canada carried out several engagement activities. These included the use of social media by the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Women in Science Network, a series of short articles published about agriculture,[Note117: “Discover Agriculture,” Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, last modified 14 September 2017, http://www.agr.gc.ca/eng/about-us/publications/discover-agriculture/?id=1411999466585.] a series of press briefings through the Science Media Centre,[Note118: See, for example, 'SMCC Webinar: Water in a Changing Climate,” Science Media Centre of Canada, 27 May 2017, sciencemediacentre.ca/site/?p=5441.] and a new website dedicated to citizen science.[Note119: 'Archived—Become a Citizen Scientist,' Government of Canada, 10 February 2017, https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/013.nsf/eng/00005.html.]

In efforts to complete Milestone 14.4, Kathleen Shearer developed a report on metrics for Environment and Climate Change Canada in January 2017.[Note120: This is not available online. A copy has been shared with the IRM reviewer.] Under Milestone 14.5, a scoping paper was developed for Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada in May 2017.[Note121: This is not available online. A copy has been shared with the IRM reviewer.] Under Milestone 14.6, consultations on the development of a tri-agency policy on research data management began in the spring of 2017.

End of term: Substantial

All of the milestones, apart from Milestone 14.5, were completed.

The government completed Milestone 14.1 Mona Nemer's appointment as chief science officer on 26 September 2017.[Note122: See “Dr. Mona Nemer,” Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, https://pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2017/09/26/dr-mona-nemer; and “Chief Science Advisor,” Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, https://pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2017/09/26/chief-science-advisor.] Given the relatively vague and open-ended nature of Milestone 14.2, it could be assessed as having been completed at the midterm. However, the end-of-term self-assessment cited a few additional activities to be done. These include updating the National Research Council's “Policy on Information Management.” The policy has yet to receive final approval but was shared, in draft form, with the IRM researcher. The assessment also cited participation by Environment and Climate Change Canada and Natural Resources Canada in the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat's Open by Default pilot project.[Note123: See “Open by Default Pilot,” Government of Canada, https://open.canada.ca/en/open-by-default-pilot.]

Milestone 14.3 is similarly difficult to assess. In this area, the self-assessment cited several activities designed to boost engagement across various departments. These activities include engaging First Nation populations in integrating traditional knowledge into fisheries science; participation in public-facing activities such as Doors Open Ottawa; and training on social media, plain language science, and general communications.[Note124: The government shared a course outline from the social media training sessions with the IRM researcher on 10 September 2018.]

Regarding Milestone 14.4, the metrics and indicators report was finalised in June 2018. It identified four core metrics and three supplementary metrics to track open science activities and assess their impacts and benefits.[Note125: Science-Based Departments and Agencies Open Science Metrics Working Group, Monitoring Open Science Implementation in Federal Science-Based Departments and Agencies: Metrics and Indicators, 27 June 2018, https://ecccdocs.techno-science.ca/documents/ECCC_STB_STSD_OpenScienceMetricsReportADMOvf-accessible.pdf.] The self-assessment states that, over the course of the action plan, it became clear that a single open access policy, of the sort envisioned by Milestone 14.5, was unfeasible. As a result, the government developed a draft Statement of Principles on Open Access to Publications Supported through Grants and Contributions.[Note126: See “Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications,” Government of Canada, http://www.science.gc.ca/eic/site/063.nsf/eng/h_F6765465.html?OpenDocument.] The Statement of Principles has been shared with the community of practice for feedback, but it has not yet been finalised or implemented.

Under Milestone 14.6, the self-assessment cites the continuation of consultations which began in the spring of 2017. In particular, the assessment points to the launch of an online public consultation in June 2018 to solicit feedback on the draft policy and its usefulness. Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada shared with the IRM researcher an extensive list of stakeholders who were consulted as part of this effort. The department also shared an agenda from one of these meetings. The government plans to launch the policy in 2019.

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Outstanding

Civic Participation: Major

This commitment marks an important shift away from the “muzzling” of Canadian scientists, which took place under the previous government,[Note127: See “Most Federal Scientists Feel They Can't Speak Out, Even if Public Health and Safety at Risk, Says New Survey,” Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, http://www.pipsc.ca/portal/page/portal/website/issues/science/bigchill; and Karen Magnuson-Ford and Katie Gibbs, Can Scientists Speak? (British Columbia: Simon Fraser University; and Ottawa, Ontario: Evidence for Democracy), https://evidencefordemocracy.ca/sites/default/files/reports/Can%20Scientists%20Speak_.pdf.
] toward more open access to government scientific research. Open science constitutes an important area of focus. Civil society stakeholders consulted in the preparation of this report expressed a similar sentiment, as did the 2015 IRM progress report.[Note128: Mary Francoli, Canada Progress Report 2014-2015 (Washington, DC: Open Government Partnership Independent Reporting Mechanism), https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/1.Canada14-15_English_Final_0_0.pdf.] This shift has clear implications for the expansion of access to research data. It also has implications for the promotion of civic engagement. It helps to re-establish a robust dialogue between nongovernmental organisations and government scientists, which had been severely chilled. The general language of Milestones 14.2 and 14.3 makes it difficult to assess whether and to what degree they have generated a net and sustainable improvement. However, the general consensus among civil society has been that the federal government is now far more open in terms of connecting scientists and researchers to the media and the public than during the previous action plan.[Note129: This was expressed by several stakeholders during consultations for the 2017 midterm assessment. Such stakeholders included Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and the Canadian Association of Journalists at the Toronto consultation on 15 September 2017.] The government took another important step with the appointment of a chief science officer.

On the whole, this commitment is coded as outstanding regarding access to information and as major regarding civic participation. The past two years' gains—and the processes which have commenced and which are being carried into the next action plan—will have a strong, positive effect on Canadians' access to and engagement with scientific results and resources. However, it is worth noting that Canada's self-assessment also points to important future challenges. Such challenges are particularly related to the disclosure of data that fulfils official language requirements, data fragmentation, de-identification of data to remove personal information, and the need for a culture change to address concerns about the popularisation of science. Nonetheless, the fact that these challenges have been identified constitutes a positive step, which bodes well for further progress.

Carried Forward?

Canada's fourth action plan lists open science as the fifth commitment. The commitment includes milestones to enhance access to publications from federal scientists (5.1) and to advance work on the metrics developed under 14.4 (5.4).


Commitments

Open Government Partnership