The Royal Irish Academy/Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann champions research. We identify and recognise Ireland’s world class researchers. We support scholarship and promote awareness of how science and the humanities enrich our lives and benefit society. We believe that good research needs to be promoted, sustained and communicated. The Academy is run by a Council of its members. Membership is by election and considered the highest academic honour in Ireland.

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DRI supports open COVID pledge

22 June 2021

To encourage depositors to make social sciences and historical data open, the DRI signed up to support the Open COVID Pledge. As a practical step, DRI has also added an Open COVID Licence as an additional licence option for depositors. 

Just over one year ago, as Ireland and the rest of Europe were first grappling with lockdowns, travel bans and restrictions, the Digital Repository of Ireland (DRI) issued a statement 'COVID-19: Playing Our Part'. The aim of this short statement was to contribute to the fight against COVID-19. As a trustworthy digital repository in the humanities, social sciences, and cultural heritage fields, we weren’t sure exactly what contribution we could make. While we think that our work is important, it is clearly not comparable to the impact of healthcare and front-line workers, or essential workers who could not stay home.

We identified some areas, however, where we could potentially make a small difference. Although medical and health research is obviously the main focus, we also saw the importance of working with social sciences researchers investigating the impact of COVID-19 on individuals and society, as well as those working to document the unfolding historical record, so that future historians might understand the unprecedented situation in which we found ourselves, and how the country responded.

To encourage depositors to make such data open, the DRI signed up to support the Open COVID Pledge. The pledge states that:

Immediate action is required to halt the COVID-19 Pandemic and treat those it has affected. It is a practical and moral imperative that every tool we have at our disposal be applied to develop and deploy technologies on a massive scale without impediment.

We therefore pledge to make our intellectual property available free of charge for use in ending the COVID-19 pandemic and minimizing the impact of the disease.

We will implement this pledge through a licence that details the terms and conditions under which our intellectual property is made available.

DRI’s support of the pledge indicates that we endorse the mission of the Open COVID Coalition to remove barriers to the use of intellectual property with the potential to help end and mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. We also encourage organisations depositing in DRI to take or support the pledge.

As a practical step, DRI has also added an Open COVID Licence as an additional licence option for depositors. This licence, along with the Open COVID Pledge, allows research organisations around the world to make their patents and copyrights freely available for use in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The most appropriate licence from the suite for DRI depositors is the Open COVID Licence – Patent and Copyright (OCL-PC) 1.1 ( It is now possible to set this licence for digital objects deposited in DRI. This is a short-term licence, which lasts until one year after the World Health Organization declares the COVID-19 pandemic to have ended, or not beyond January 1, 2023.

We will review this at the end of 2022 and contact any depositors who have opted to use it. At that point, depositors will be able to choose an alternative licence, for example, one of the Creative Commons licences, or to set their digital objects to be reusable only for educational use, or only after obtaining specific permission.

This initiative fits with DRI’s stated position and activities in support of Open Access for publications and data. In 2012, DRI was instrumental in developing the National Principles for Open Access Policy Statement as part of the National Steering Committee on Open Access Policy and is currently involved in the National Open Research Forum, which developed Ireland’s National Framework on the Transition to an Open Research Environment.

You can find out more about DRI’s commitment to supporting Open Data here.

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