Skip to content

Open Science

Black and white photo of a person working at a laboratory bench.
Laboratory Science – biomedical” by Bill Dickinson licensed via CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Open Science is the practice of science in such a way that others can collaborate and contribute, where research data, lab notes and other research processes are freely available, under terms that enable reuse, redistribution and reproduction of the research and its underlying data and methods. — FOSTER Open Science Definition

For years, Creative Commons has been involved in with projects and policy to enable and support the open sharing of scientific information. The CC licenses and public domain tools are widely used to share scientific research and data. We’ve also created software and developed policy recommendations that make it easier for scholars and policymakers to advocate for open solutions to collaboration and information exchange.


Science Commons was launched in 2005 with the goal of bringing the openness and sharing that have made Creative Commons licenses a success in the arts and cultural fields to the world of science. Science Commons helped explore the intersection of the web, legal tools, and scholarly publishing for the benefit of scientific discovery, innovation, and collaboration. It has since been re-integrated with Creative Commons and is no longer a discrete project.

Creative Commons launched its Scholar’s Copyright Project in June 2006, with one of the main components being the Scholar’s Copyright Addendum Engine. This tool provides a simple mechanism for scholars to retain copyright over their published material that otherwise would be transferred to the publisher. It has now re-launched and updated in beta on CC Labs. The Termination of Transfer tool has also been released in beta. Once finalized, it will help authors learn if and when they have the right to terminate agreements under U.S. law, and regain their right their right to use CC tools to publish under open access terms.


The practice of open science is inextricably linked to the dissemination of that research to other scientists, and the public. Much of scientific research is funded by the public, thus there has been an increasing attention to ensuring that there is broad public access to the outputs (articles and data) of publicly funded science. Thus, advocates call for open licensing requirements to be attached to publicly funded research grants. This means that articles developed as a result of public funding must be shared under a liberal open license (such as CC BY) so that everyone else is granted permission to read and re-use that publicly funded research. Such policies are already in place in the UK, and are coming online at the European level, in the United States, and elsewhere.

Universities and philanthropic foundations are also adopting open licensing policies for the research articles and data sets that their faculty and grantees produce.