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European Research Executive Agency

Open science

Q&A on what you should comply with when applying for funding and implementing your project

Open science in Horizon Europe

Did you know that open science is a legal obligation under Horizon Europe? Its purpose is to foster greater transparency and trust for the benefit of scientific research and for the benefit of EU citizens.

Confused or unsure about how to comply with open science principles when applying for EU funding and when implementing your project? 

Fear not! REA has prepared an information package and series of Q&As below. This may help you to successfully implement open science practices in your proposals and during your project if your proposal is selected for funding. 

What is open science? Open science is an approach to research based on open cooperative work that emphasizes the sharing of knowledge, results and tools as early and widely as possible. It is mandatory under Horizon Europe, and it operates on the principle of being ‘as open as possible, as closed as necessary’.

What does “as open as possible, as closed as necessary” mean? Results and data may be kept closed if making them public in open access is against the researcher’s legitimate interests. Examples include to commercially exploit their research results, or if it is against any obligations mentioned in the Grant Agreement (e.g. personal data protection). 

What is open access? Open access is the practice of providing online access to scientific information that is free of charge and reusable to the user. This includes both peer-reviewed publications and data underlying publications, or other datasets. Under Horizon Europe, researchers are not obliged to publish their results in publications, however if they choose to do so, it should be in open access.

What is open access to research data? Research data is the information (facts or numbers) collected to be examined and considered, and to serve as a basis for reasoning, discussion or calculation. Open access to research data is the right to access and reuse digital research data under the terms and conditions set out in the Grant Agreement. The research data of EU-funded projects must be FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Re-usable).

 What are the benefits of open science? Open Science encourages collaboration across academia, industry, public authorities, and citizen groups. When these groups are invited to participate in the research and innovation process, creativity and trust in science increases. This engagement process leads to greater transparency in the research process, greater potential impact of research, more efficient research processes and opportunities for global scientific collaboration.  

What are the open science practices under Horizon Europe? There are two mandatory practices: Open access to publications and open access to research data based on the principle of ‘as open as possible, as closed as necessary’. Additionally, there are several recommended practices to consider when appropriate. Examples include involving all relevant knowledge actors (including citizens), early open sharing of research and research outputs beyond publications, sharing research data and open peer-reviews. These practices are outlined in the Horizon Europe Standard Application Form and the Programme Guide

What is citizen science? Citizen science can be described as the voluntary participation of non-professional scientists in research and innovation at different stages of the process and at different levels of engagement, from shaping research agendas and policies, to gathering, processing and analysing data, and assessing the outcomes of research.

How can you get support to comply with open science practices? offers guidance for including open science practices in your Horizon Europe proposal. 

Open science and the proposal application

In the methodology section of the proposal, it is important to clearly demonstrate how the project will comply with the mandatory open science practices. This refers to open access to publications and open access to FAIR data, according to the principle ‘as open as possible, as closed as necessary’. Additionally, it is recommended to address how recommended open science practices will be integrated into the project methodology and workflow, as this will result in a higher evaluation score.

How will the quality of your open science practices be evaluated in Horizon Europe proposals? The evaluators will assess the following aspects

  • Researcher’s profile: You should include the persistent identifiers (e.g., DOI, Handle) for each listed output, if available, when completing the "Outputs/Achievements" section of Part A of the Standard Application Form.  
  • In Part A, you should also list up to five relevant publications, widely used datasets, or other achievements of consortium members. Open access is expected for publication, in particular journal articles, while datasets are expected to be FAIR and as 'open as possible, as closed as necessary'.
  • Scientific excellence: In the ‘excellence criterion’, explain how you will apply open science practices in your project, paying attention to both mandatory and recommended practices. Do not forget to outline your future Data Management Plan (DPM).  
  • Quality and efficiency of implementation: In this section, the project partners must show their contribution to the consortium's capacity, highlighting their previous experience and expertise in open science.  
  • Citizen, civil society, and end-user engagement: you should provide succinct information on how this engagement will be implemented in your project, where/if appropriate. This may include co-design activities (workshops or focus groups), co-creation activities (citizen science or user-led creation) and co-assessment activities (assisting monitoring, feedback, and evaluation of the governance of projects).

Open science and project implementation

During the implementation of the project, beneficiaries must disseminate their results ‘as soon as possible’, following the obligations from the Annotated Grant Agreement. Beneficiaries must create and update two different plans: the Data Management Plan and the Communication, Dissemination and Exploitation Plan.  

What are the requirements for scientific publications? Peer-reviewed publications must be open access by depositing the final version or peer-reviewed manuscripts in a trusted repository. For journal articles, choose a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) or equivalent open license. For publishing long-texts, Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial/Non-Derivatives licenses are also allowed. In addition, you should deposit in a trusted repository the research outputs, tools, or instruments necessary to validate the publications’ conclusions.  

How to know if a scientific journal is compliant with open access? To find out if a scientific journal complies with open access, check on the Directory of Open Access Journals or the Journal Checker tool. 

What are the requirements for metadata of peer-reviewed publications? Metadata should be in line with the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable data) principles.  Metadata should be machine-actionable (machine readable and automatic so that computer processing can extract information from the metadata attributes ensuring a cross-linking between different research outputs) and follow a standardized format in line with community standards. It should provide rich information, such as the publication/data, author(s), publication title, date of publication and publication venue. It should also include Horizon Europe or Euratom funding, Grant Project Name Acronym and number and licensing terms. Additionally, metadata must be open access under the Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0) or equivalent, ensuring its reusability. 

What type of publications can be reimbursed? The publication venue is the choice of the beneficiary, but the publication fees are reimbursable only if the publishing venue is fully open access (publication fees in hybrid venues are not reimbursed). Any printing fees (for monographs / other books or articles) are not eligible.  

What does Open Research Europe offer to beneficiaries willing to publish? Open Research Europe is the open access publishing platform developed by the European Commission in which beneficiaries have the possibility to publish at no cost.  

What are the requirements for the Data Management Plan (DMP)? As a mandatory practice, beneficiaries must create and keep an updated Data Management Plan (DMP) for the research data the project generates or collects. The DMP is a key element of good data management. It describes the data management life cycle for the data to be collected, processed and/or generated by a Horizon 2020 project. It is important to deposit your data in a trusted repository as ‘soon as possible’ and within the timeline you set in your DMP. Check the Funding and Tenders Portal for a DMP reporting template

What trusted repository should you use to deposit your scientific outputs? Under Horizon Europe, a repository is an online archive where researchers deposit and share research publications, research data and other scientific outputs. The initial step in this process is to determine if your organization has a repository, or if there is a thematic/disciplinary repository that would align with your research. You may consult with your academic library for assistance or explore the available options at the Directory of Open Access Repositories or Re3Data. Should you be unable to identify a suitable repository, Zenodo is a centralized repository that is supported by the European Commission and helps beneficiaries in meeting their Open Access requirements.

Open science and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

Are there any exceptions to open science under Horizon Europe?  

Open access to data is required under the principle ‘as open as possible, as closed as necessary’. Those may be kept closed if providing open access is against the beneficiaries’ legitimate interests, including commercial exploitation; or if it is contrary to data protection rules, privacy, confidentiality, trade secrets, Union competitive interests, security rules, intellectual property rights or any other obligations mentioned in the Grant Agreement. It is important to remember that if you choose to restrict access to some or all of your research data, that you must clearly explain the reasoning for this in your DMP. 

What are the requirements for scientific publications to comply with IPR? Beneficiaries must retain sufficient IPR to comply with the open access requirements for publications. This means that if a publisher asks you to sign a publication agreement that contradicts the terms of the Grant Agreement, it is not advisable to sign it. 

Are the requirements for open science and exploitation of results (e.g. patenting) conflicting in Horizon Europe? Which one goes first? The exploitation of research results commercially, such as through patenting, is not in contradiction with open science requirements.  The decision to publish through open access should follow the decision to publish directly or file a patent application. This means that any invention that beneficiaries file for patent protection, must not have been made public anywhere before filing the application with a patent office. Open access is the default for research data, but exceptions can be made for legitimate interests or other constraints, such as data protection, privacy, and confidentiality. The justification for access restriction must be provided in the DMP.