The Exploration Series’ aimed at Researcher Engagement. Its objectives therefore were to:
- establish ways of communication that involved researchers in the co-creation of the EOSC and to elicit their visions, needs and requirements, ensuring the EOSC would be accepted and appreciated on a larger scale by its key stakeholder community
- outreach to researchers and their communities via multipliers and testimonials (in order to establish a network, strengthen support for the EOSC initiative and make it better known)
- identify current barriers and services considered essential for a well-functioning EOSC
- identify (EOSC related and stakeholder-relevant) topics for further discussion as well as services needed for cutting-edge research
- obtain a better understanding on how research is changing
- elaborate visions on how research will be conducted in 5 to 15 years and what the effect and impact on research infrastructures will be
- provide all findings as seeds for public comments to involve an even larger stakeholder community
- feed all results directly into the work of the EOSC governance bodies and the EOSC Working Groups (WGs), providing input crucial for the development of the EOSC
Three main challenges in terms of researcher engagement and communication were identified within the framework of this activity. First, the EOSC had already been talked about for a relatively long time – which was also perceived as such, without any concrete, useful tools and services being available. Thus, in spite of all effort invested, researchers still had no clear picture of what the EOSC should or will be or how it will transform their life into a better state.
Second, a flood of reports, presentations, fancy names and acronyms as well as the fact that most information provided was often too abstract, opaque and scattered, was a major barrier to successful researcher engagement.
Third, due to marketing campaigns promoting the EOSC, its (not yet existing) services and its benefits for researchers, researchers became sceptical. Additionally, hardly anything hinted at concrete benefits for day-to-day research. At the same time, the actual goals and benefits of the EOSC initiative – the idea of consulting with actual stakeholders to collect input on what was (and is) needed and derive recommendations from that – were lost. On the other hand, key concepts such as openness were misunderstood as being contradictory to R&D settings, specifically in industry contexts.