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EOSC activities update and UK engagement

Introduction

The European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) is a European Commission (EC) initiative to support the development of open science and the digital transformation of research in Europe and further afield. Now in its implementation phase, it aims to develop a “web” of FAIR data and services, providing a multi-disciplinary environment where researchers can publish, find and re-use data, tools and services. The EOSC is complementary to UK efforts to define and adopt open science policies and practices, and the UK contributes to development of the EOSC through participation in implementation projects and in the EOSC Association, a legal entity established to govern the European Open Science Cloud.
As part of its Tech 2 Tech series, Jisc held an EOSC webinar in March 2021 which helped to confirm strong interest in the EOSC across the UK research community. Another Jisc webinar about EOSC will be held on 15 December, for which details will be advertised shortly. This blog provides an update on the numerous activities which have been taking place as part of the ongoing development of the EOSC, and UK engagement with them.

EOSC portal

The EOSC already provides a portal containing catalogues of resources including services, datasets, software, tools and training resources. It aims to provide a trusted digital space for research – a gateway through which to discover and learn about resources. Benefits it intends to deliver include
– seamless access to content and services via common AAI (authentication and authorisation infrastructure)
– access to data from various sources which is FAIR and ideally open
– access to services for storage, computation, analysis, preservation and more
– adoption of standards so data and services can be combined
– helpdesk, training and support to improve use of EOSC.

Governance

The EOSC Association was established in July 2020 to govern the EOSC and is responsible for delivering on the EOSC’s objectives. It now has over 200 members and observers. The Association held its first General Assembly in December 2020 at which it appointed a Board of Directors. During the course of this year it has recruited a Secretary-General and several other staff members and is in the process of establishing its secretariat in Brussels. During the last few months, the EOSC European Co-programmed Partnership has also been established to provide a vehicle to guide the EOSC until 2030. The EC spent around €250m in the initial EOSC implementation phase 2018-2020 and has committed nearly €500m for 2021-2027 as part of the Partnership under which equal in-kind contributions are expected to bring total funding to €1billion. The EOSC Association represents the research community in the governance of the EOSC Partnership, along with the EU represented by the European Commission, and the participating countries represented in the EOSC Steering Board.

Further implementation

EOSC involves both data producers and service providers and has a wide range of stakeholders including research infrastructures, e-Infrastructures, research performing organisations, researchers and funders. It is very ambitious both in terms of its objectives and the timescale set for its initial implementation (by end of 2020). Implementation now continues through the Association and in Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe projects. The largest of these is the EOSC Future project which started in April 2021 and in which Jisc is active. It will deliver a platform to support the needs of researchers, including
– EOSC core – the set of enabling services needed to operate the EOSC
– EOSC exchange – resources and services from research infrastructures, other EOSC projects and science clusters to the EOSC, and their integration with the EOSC core functionalities
– the EOSC interoperability framework – guidelines for integrating services or data into EOSC.
EOSC Future is complemented by several other projects which will contribute services to the EOSC exchange. Of these, Jisc participates in the EGI-ACE project which is pooling the capacity of Europe’s largest research data centres in the EOSC Compute Platform, an integrated environment accessible across borders providing data, tools and compute and storage facilities. Also, several “regional” projects address preparation and alignment of countries with EOSC. Of these, Jisc participates in the EOSC Synergy project.
In addition to implementation projects, the EOSC Association has set up thirteen Task Forces to help steer key areas of EOSC, including implementation, metadata and data quality, research careers and curricula, technical challenges and sustaining EOSC. These were presented and discussed at the EOSC Symposium 2021, one of the numerous EOSC-related events which have taken place in recent months. Membership of the Task Forces was based on an open call which produced a very strong response from across the research community. The Task Forces are currently in the process of being established, electing chairpersons and adopting their charters. Jisc and other UK institutions are represented in most of the Task Forces.

UK engagement

With the EOSC, the EC aims to give the EU a global lead in research data management. The development of open science and research data management supports and encourages multidisciplinary international research collaboration. The UK may have left the EU but extensive research collaboration between the UK and the rest of Europe continues. An important example of this in which Jisc is involved is OPERAS, a research infrastructure which is coordinating and federating resources in Europe to address researchers’ scholarly communication needs in the Social Sciences and Humanities.
Jisc continues to be keen for the UK to engage with EOSC. Jisc is an observer in the EOSC Association and Jisc staff are active in many of the EOSC Association Task Forces and in implementation projects. Other UK-based organisations participating in the EOSC Association include Digital Science, European Social Survey (ESS-ERIC), European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) and Instruct Integrated Structural Biology Infrastructure in Europe (INSTRUCT-ERIC). In spite of continuing uncertainty around the ability of UK partners to take part in Horizon Europe projects due to the UK Association Agreement to Horizon Europe not having been signed, Jisc and other UK institutions are project partners in EOSC-related proposals submitted in September as part of the first tranche of Horizon Europe calls.

How you can get involved with EOSC

Contributing to the development of the EOSC, through involvement with its various implementation projects or through the EOSC Association, provides opportunities to advance the provision of open science tools, support open science practices, advance good research data management and encourage international interdisciplinary research collaboration.
• If you represent a research performing organisation or a research institute, you could consider joining the EOSC Association.
• If you are a research service provider, you could consider onboarding your service(s) so they can be found and accessed through the EOSC portal.
• If you are a researcher, you could investigate the resources available through the EOSC portal.
If you’d like to know more about the EOSC and keep in touch with its development, take a look at the recording of the Tech 2 Tech EOSC webinar. You can sign up to Jisc’s EOSC mailing list eosc@jiscmail.ac.uk by going to JISCMail, to stay informed about news and activities including the next Jisc webinar about EOSC on 15 December. You may also be interested in the UK Roadshow advancing the skills agenda for reproducibility, open and FAIR coming soon thanks to a collaboration between the FAIRsFAIR and EOSC Synergy EC research projects.

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