Open Access to Scientific Information

In the following section we aim to provide the answers to frequently asked questions concerning open access scientific research. Although the considerations relate mostly to questions asked by scientific researchers, they are also informative for research institutions and publishers wishing to enter the open access sphere. These questions mostly pertain to the open access on scientific information in general and could therefore be used as a template for those who wish to inform their end-users concerning open access policies.

What is Scientific Information?

In general, the term ‘scientific’ may refer to all academic disciplines, not only hard sciences. According to the European Commission, ‘scientific information’ in the context of research and innovation may fall under two broad categories:

  • Peer-reviewed scientific research articles (published in scholarly journals) or
  • Research data (data underlying publications, curated data and/or raw data).


What is “Research Data”?

Research data constitutes all data from an experiment, study or measurement, including the metadata and processing data. Under the EU Horizon 2020 track 'research data' refers to information, in particular facts or numbers, collected to be examined and considered and as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation. In a research context, examples of data include statistics, results of experiments, measurements, observations resulting from fieldwork, survey results, interview recordings and images. The focus is on research data that is available in digital form.

Source: Sarah Hugelier, "Publishing Open-Access Biomedical Data: Legal Challenges." Biomed Data J. 2015; 1(1): 43-51.