31 October 2017

Personalised Medicine and Health


Prof. dr. Frank Miedema
Frank Miedema

This year open science was a much-discussed topic amongst researchers, policy makers and politicians. It’s a new research paradigm, facing many challenges. By increasing the openness, integrity and reproducibility of scientific research, the advocates of open science aim to bring science further. The Netherlands is one of the countries that plays an active role in the transition phase and much awareness has already been created. But it’s a long and bumpy road.

Common roadmap

Frank Miedema, Dean and Vice-President of the Executive Board UMC Utrecht, strongly emphasises the importance of open science. He likes to discuss how science is organized, the way knowledge is shared and the way tools and services are embedded for data storage. As a member of consortiums such as the League of European Research Universities (LERU) and Health RI, Miedema teams up to develop a common roadmap for a new Research Infrastructure in The Netherlands and the EU.


“We are brought up with the idea that the data you have obtained is yours. But in reality we want to share it, to take science a step further”, explains Miedema. “The different issues that arise when we talk about sharing data with others, obviously gives friction. Who will get the credits and will you still be able to move on at your own pace, are justified questions. But in the end we all know things need to be organised differently, to take the necessary big step. And all this takes time. Before we have an infrastructure that everyone supports, we are so ten or fifteen years on."

We are brought up with the idea that the data you have obtained is yours. But in reality we want to share it, to take science a step further


Miedema also discusses how data storage is organised. “A lot of data is not stored properly or gets lost, mainly because we have not set up a good common system. It is important to develop a system for data storage that improves the reproducibility of data and accessibility of data for everyone. This means we have to make agreements about how we store our data, how others in Europe can use it and who will pay for it.”

Have your say

In the Netherlands they are talking about how to organize this at various levels, clarifies Miedema. "For instance, Dutch politicians indicated open science is a big theme. At governmental level, they know that we have to do this."

But also here in Utrecht we are ambitious. Utrecht University (UU) has drafted a plan on open science for the coming years. The UU wants to promote open science as part of its promise to make science more open and even more reliable, efficient and relevant to society. To follow up on the ambition formulated in the strategic plan, the rector commissioned a task force, supported by a university library work group, to draft a first version of an intended Open Science Programme for the period 2018-2020. This draft is now open for consultation.  Utrecht researchers are invited to discuss and comment.

On December 14, the Utrecht Young Academy already organised the Open science public consultation meeting. During this meeting, members of the UU open science team presented the current plan, and opened the floor for feedback. If you didn't attend and want to help draft the plan, you can also go to open-science.sites.uu.nl and comment on the draft. Please do so before the end of the year, since the plan is set to be discussed and sent to the University Board for approval at the beginning of 2018.