Building peace in the minds of men and women

Open Access to scientific information

UNESCO promotes Open Access (OA) to scholarly information emanating from publicly funded research. This includes journal articles, conference papers, research algorithms and codes, as well as research datasets of various kinds. Scholarly information is both a researcher’s greatest output and technological innovation’s most important resource. UNESCO promotes and supports Open Access—the online availability of scholarly information to everyone, free of most licensing and copyright barriers—for the benefit of global knowledge flow, innovation and socio-economic development. UNESCO supports non-commercialization of access to knowledge.

UNESCO’s work on Open Access is guided by the Strategy on Open Access to Scientific Information and Research approved by the Member States on its 36th Session of the General Conference. The strategy consists of three pillars: providing policy advice and building partnerships; enhancing capacities; and informing the global Open Access debate.  UNESCO is also supporting the adoption of an international standard-setting instrument on Open Science, to democratize access to scientific knowledge.  

In order to base policy advice on ongoing initiatives and building partnerships, UNESCO cooperated with the Redalyc Network of Scientific Journals, the Indian Statistical Institute and AmeliCA to develop and maintain a Global Open Access Portal (GOAP).  Launched in 2011, it presents an expert, informative online hub to inform open access stakeholders from across the globe about the latest news, regional initiatives and partnership opportunities. It also enhances capacities through its learning channels, an Open Access journal workflow, and dedicated Open Access harvesting tools for COVID-19, Artificial Intelligence and big data.

UNESCO’s Open Access initiatives are built around the need for scientific research to address the needs of society and responses to current and future sustainability challenges. UNESCO’s Open Access programme pays particular attention to Africa and developing countries where, notwithstanding important gains in ICT availability, Open Access prevalence, both in terms of output and usage, remains low. UNESCO is also working with its partners to reevaluate contexts and new narratives of research evaluation and  peer review processes. 

Open data 

UNESCO’s actions in open data aim to help Member States maximize the potential of emerging technologies and their societal benefits.  UNESCO’s work on Open data focuses on the openness of research data, openness of government data, labelling of data and openness of big data for Artificial Intelligence.   

As Open data is  the foundation for research and provides fuel for training automated systems, UNESCO supports open data initiatives that contribute to development and improvement in quality of life through capacity building and policy advice. UNESCO supports the AI4D dataset challenge, whose objective is the creation, curation and collation of quality African language datasets for specific natural language processing tasks. These datasets of minority and indigenous languages can feed into artificial intelligence applications that facilitate translation of online learning resources in minority languages, increasing the resources available to minority-language speakers. 

UNESCO is also a founding member of the Open for Good Alliance, which is an initiative to leverage synergies with international, regional and national organizations that are working to stimulate the use of localized data in artificial intelligence systems to address local problems.

Within these spheres,  UNESCO is supporting development of open data repositories, address policy problems and enhance capacities to foster conditions for free and unrestricted availability of Open data. UNESCO advocates that data must be open, publicly available for anyone to access, use and share, and adhere to the FAIR Principles: Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability, and Reusability. Advocacy work is also carried out so that open data resources adhere to the highest standards of privacy and non-bias to prioritizes the protection of  subjects’ right to privacy.