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Advancing Open Science through Horizon Europe: mandatory and recommended practices

25th October 2023 at 11:35 am

The European Commission defines Open Science as “an approach to research that emphasises the early sharing of knowledge, results and tools.” While within the Horizon 2020 framework, Open Science mostly referred to ensuring open access to a project’s publications in peer-reviewed journals and, in some instances, to open data, the EU Open Science policy has enlarged its scope and ambition within the Horizon Europe framework. Today, Open Science encompasses a set of mandatory and recommended practices – shown in the figure below – that follow the principle of being ‘as open as possible, as closed as necessary.’

Visualisation of the mandatory and recommended Open Science practices in Horizon Europe

Yet, how do you approach Open Science in practice? In the following paragraphs, we will analyse how to implement Open Science both in proposal writing and in the implementation phase of your project. Given the extensive focus of Horizon 2020 on open access and open data, the project implementation section of this article will focus exclusively on newer aspects of the Open Science policy within Horizon Europe.

Open Science in Horizon Europe projects: proposal writing

It is important already in the early stages of proposal writing to start thinking about Open Science practices. Within the methodology section of Part B of your proposal, a crucial objective is to distinctly showcase the project’s alignment with the obligatory Open Science practices. As a proposal writer, you need to prove to the reviewers that you – as a consortium – have a sound understanding of Open Science as envisioned by the European Commission and a solid plan on how to implement mandatory and recommended practices, where applicable. Within the methodology, it is also recommended that you provide an outline of your plan to generate, manage and process your data throughout the project’s lifetime.

Additionally, when describing impact-maximisation measures, your outline must be closely tied to Open Science principles. As an example, if you are engaging in Citizen Science, you are expected to provide information on how this engagement will be implemented, e.g., via co-design workshops, focus groups, co-creation activities, etc.

Equally important, as you outline the consortium’s capacity and contribution, emphasising the partners’ expertise in Open Science remains a key aspect. Here, for example, if a partner has wide experience in organising co-creation workshops, you should explain how their knowledge and know-how will contribute to the successful implementation of your activity, as well as to Open Science as a whole.  

Lastly, in instances where Open Science practices might not be directly applicable to your project, whether mandatory or non-mandatory practices, it is highly important to invest effort in providing substantial explanations for why this is the case within your project.

Open Science in Horizon Europe projects: project implementation

During the project implementation, beneficiaries are required to promptly disseminate their outcomes ‘as soon as possible’. But how? In general, you must ensure that if your proposal encompasses any recommended Open Science practices, these are mirrored during the implementation phase. As an example, if you planned to engage in Citizen Science, throughout the Plan for Dissemination and Exploitation including Communication Activities, you are expected to provide a detailed explanation of how your activities will engage with relevant stakeholders and how these will contribute to the outcome of your research. Similarly, when engaging in open peer review, it is good practice to outline the platforms where you intend to submit your publication for open peer review in the abovementioned plan. Today, numerous platforms facilitate the transparent review of your publications. For instance, Open Research Europe serves as the European Commission’s dedicated platform for Horizon Europe and Horizon 2020 projects. When submitting an article, expert reviewers are chosen and invited to contribute; their reviews and names are subsequently published alongside the article, together with the authors’ responses and comments from registered users.

Additionally, besides complying with the open access and open data rules already set out in Horizon 2020, another important aspect to consider is the way you manage your data. In this regard, an essential and mandatory document to formulate and maintain is the Data Management Plan (DMP). Overall, your DMP will explain how your data is collected, generated, and processed. It will define strategies to ensure that the research data is of high quality, safe and sustainable while in adherence with the FAIR principles.

FAIR is a set of principles which requires your research data to be Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable, throughout the project lifetime and beyond, and it is core to the implementation of Open Science practices. The main elements of the FAIR principles are presented in the table below.

PrincipleExplanation How to comply with your project?

The data produced must be discoverable with metadata, identifiable and locatable using a standard identification mechanism (e.g., unique and persistent identifiers (PID) such as Digital Object Identifiers).– Assign a PID such as DOI, pURL, etc
Accessible The data and associated software produced and/or used in the project are accessible (e.g., a licensing framework for research and education, lack of embargo periods, commercial exploitation, etc.).– Deposit into a certified repositoryEnsure open access, without embargo periods
Interoperable Data and metadata should use formal, accessible, shared and broadly applicable language and facilitate recombinations with different datasets from different origins.– Make use of widely accepted software by the scientific community of reference
– Make use of agreed schemas, vocabularies and keywords
ReusableThe data produced in the project must be easily reusable by third parties. This includes adhering to standards and standard operating procedures.– Provide licence attribution
– Provide information, tools and instruments needed to validate the data

Open Science exceptions in Horizon Europe

In Open Science, beneficiaries are encouraged to adhere to the principle of ‘as open as possible, as closed as necessary.’ But to what extent can the disclosure of your project data be limited? Generally, restricting access to your data is allowed when open access could compromise the ‘legitimate interests’ of the beneficiaries. Examples of legitimate interests include scenarios where commercial exploitation is possible or where openness contradicts data protection norms, privacy, confidentiality, trade secrets, the competitive interests of the Union, security protocols, intellectual property rights, or any other stipulations often outlined in the Grant Agreement of your project. Nonetheless, if you decide to limit access to your data, it is crucial to articulate the rationale behind such a decision explicitly in your project’s DMP.


Open Science in Horizon Europe represents a transformative research approach, emphasising widespread and early knowledge sharing from proposal development to project realisation. While compliance with some of these practices is mandatory, the true essence lies in maximising the collective progression and impact of research, fostering innovation and enhancing public engagement in science, ensuring a harmonious balance between openness and confidentiality. With extensive experience in Horizon Europe and Horizon 2020 projects, accelopment is uniquely poised to offer support in both proposal writing and project implementation. Our in-depth understanding of Open Science practices ensures compliance with all requisites at the proposal stage, demonstrating comprehensive knowledge and planned execution of mandatory and recommended aspects. This proficiency is also pivotal during project implementation, especially regarding the development of the Data Management Plan, adherence to the FAIR principles, as well as the implementation of Citizen Science events, such as focus groups or workshops, and open peer review practices.  

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Mario Ceccarelli
Project Communications Associate


Aritzi, A. (n.d.). Horizon Europe Open Science Requirements in practice: Results & Tips. OpenAIRE. https://www.openaire.eu/horizon-europe-open-science-requirements-in-practice

European Commission. (n.d.). Open science in Horizon Europe. European Research Executive Agency. https://rea.ec.europa.eu/open-science_en

OpenScience EU. (n.d.). Where is open science in Horizon Europe?. openscience. https://openscience.eu/Open-Science-in-Horizon-Europe