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Fiocruz advances in the management, sharing and opening of data for research


Flávia Lobato (VPEIC/Fiocruz)


Science formulated with collaboration and transparency. On March 17th, the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) presented the advances in the implantation of the Institutional Data Repository for Research - Arca Dados, an important element to implement the Policy for Management, Sharing and Opening of Data for Research. The document (approved in September 2020 by the Deliberative Council of Fiocruz and whose Ordinance came into term in December) is now available in a publication in Portuguese and English: you can access both versions here.

By printing its principles and guidelines, the Foundation shares its values and commitments with the whole society, expanding and democratizing access to the processes of exchange and generation of scientific knowledge in the institution. In a practical way, Fiocruz is reaffirming its commitment to Open Science practices, by encouraging the availability of data and information at each stage of the process. With the Policy, professionals, partners, and the whole society can follow the initiatives in progress: the development of structures — such as the Data Repository, which is already in pilot operation —, professional training and support for researchers.

The Vice President of Education, Information and Communication, Cristiani Vieira Machado, says the result stems from debates to mature the subject. “Open Science is a complex subject. As a strategic institution in health science and technology, Fiocruz is responsible for assessing the potential and risks of this movement. For this reason, once again we had respected our democratic and participatory tradition: the Policy is the result of several internal discussions, considering evaluations carried out with different actors in the scientific field”.

She also comments: “there are many benefits of collaborative practices, but, on the other hand, it is necessary to consider huge asymmetries between different actors (inside and outside the institution, such as among organizations, partners and countries), which demand some protective measures. Thus, we are progressing, in a planned and gradual way, in the institutionalization of our strategies”.

A new stage of implementation of the Policy for Management, Sharing and Opening of Data for Research

The process of debate and construction of the text of the Policy lasted two years, remembers the coordinator of Information and Communication, Vanessa Jorge, celebrating the conclusion of this stage. “This is another significant moment for us: we are reaffirming commitments and assuming new challenges. Now, our work will be focused on implementing practices and tools to facilitate the management, sharing and data opening; to develop capacities; and also to guarantee the sustainability of our actions - always respecting the public interest and the regulatory frameworks”, she says.

Fiocruz already has a course (which is part of a complete training on Open Science (on e-learning basis), prepares a transversal discipline for all of its Stricto sensu postgraduate courses and organizes thematic workshops. At the same time, governance is being established, tests are being carried out on tools involving the Data Management Plan and the Institutional Data Repository - Arca Dados. The Spanish version of the Policy is already foreseen too. “We know we have a lot of work ahead, and we are committed to it, contributing to the responsible advancement of the Open Science topic in our institution”, states Vanessa.

Open Science and Citizenship

The efforts are well evaluated by Sarita Albagli. She is the coordinator of the Open Science and Citizen Innovation Research Program of the Brazilian Institute of Information in Science and Technology (Ibict) and comments on some benefits of such initiatives. “The Covid-19 pandemic made even more evident that Open Science cannot be an emergency Science, but it must integrate the science, technology and innovation policies of the 21st century. Considering the global implications and the need to respond quickly to society, it is essential to expand the possibilities of access, exchange and reuse of data. Fiocruz's Policy indicates the necessary conditions and strategies in this direction”.

Researcher and teacher in the Graduate Program in Information Science at Ibict linked to the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Albagli affirms: “The process is fundamental. It results from several studies of the agendas about the management, sharing and opening of research data. Above all, it mobilized the institution, recognizing the diversity of points of view. A formal document is useless, without engaging people, obtaining adhesions and also the necessary commitments at the various institutional levels”.

Milestones in the process of elaborating the Management Policy, Sharing and Opening of Data for Research

2014: Fiocruz implements its Open Knowledge Access Policy.

2017: The Foundation creates the Open Science Working Group in order to discuss, and define strategies and also actions to structure more collaborative and transparent scientific processes. Still this year, the Working Group launches the first product of this work: The Green Book - Open science and open data: mapping and analysis of policies, infrastructures and strategies from a national and international perspective. Fiocruz hosts the 8th Portuguese-Brazilian Open Access Conference (Confoa).

2018: The Working Group launches the study National legal frameworks in view of the opening of data for health research: personal, sensitive or confidential data and intellectual property and the Term of Reference: management and opening of data for research at Fiocruz. The institution promotes a process of internal listening, raising awareness and calls its professionals to the debate.

2019: An internal public consultation is carried out, in which contributions and suggestions for improvement to the text of the Policy are considered and recorded.

2020: The Covid-19 pandemic breaks out, intensifying the debate about Open Science: the topic is not restricted to the scientific community and is widely discussed by society. After the text reformulation, the Deliberative Council approves the Policy for Management, Sharing and Opening of Data for Research (September 24th). The Ordinance is published (December 7th).

2021: The Policy is made more widely available, in the format of publication in Portuguese and in English: you can access both versions here.

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