Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

EURAB recommends an EU-wide OA mandate

The European Research Advisory Board (EURAB) recommends an OA mandate for EU-funded research.  Here's today's press release in its entirety:

The European Commission should consider mandating all researchers funded under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) to publish the results of their research in an open access repository within six months of initial publication, according to the European Research Advisory Board (EURAB).

While some concerns over open access are justified, such as the quality of the peer review process, preserving long term access, and the viability of smaller circulation publications, the overwhelming benefits far outweigh these concerns, states a new report by EURAB.

The open access debate has been triggered by the rapid and radical change in science communication brought about by the rise of the internet. There is also a desire to disseminate more widely the results of publicly funded research in order to raise awareness of the benefits of investing in science, and at the same time to bring down the costs of research for public authorities. Public funding bodies are currently paying three times for research, according to EURAB. First they pay for the research itself, then for peer review, and finally for a library subscription to the journal in which the resulting paper is published. Additional author-side fees levied by traditional toll-access journals may be considered a fourth cost.

The Commission has three roles to play in drafting and implementing a policy on open access, says EURAB: as a funding body, a policy body, and a supporting body.

As a funding body, the Commission seek to increase the visibility of, and improve access to, research funded by the Commission without compromising the freedom of scientists to publish where they feel is most appropriate.

A key recommendation is that the Commission considers instructing those receiving FP7 funding to lodge any publications resulting from their research in an open access repository as soon as possible after publication. The paper should be made openly accessible within six months.

EURAB says that the repository could be a local institution or dedicated to a specific subject. Deposit should be made once a journal or conference has accepted it for publication, and the repository should release the metadata immediately, with access restrictions to the full text article to be applied as required. Open access should then be implemented as soon as practicable after the author-requested embargo, or within six months, whichever comes first.

EURAB suggests that the Commission begins the roll out of such a complex policy issue with research funded by the European Research Council (ERC), which came into being with the launch of FP7.

As a supporting body, the Commission should place emphasis on streamlining the process of deposit for researchers, and on standards for supporting interoperability. In this context, the Commission should introduce a specific supporting action in every FP7 thematic priority to facilitate the use of deposit in open access repositories, states the EURAB report.

The Commission's role as a policy body should be to encourage all Member States to promote open access publication policies for all of their publicly funded research.

A communication on scientific publishing is expected shortly from the European Commission.

To read the EURAB paper in full [December 2006], please click here.


  1. This is excellent news for many reasons.  First, the policy would apply across Europe, not just within a single country or institution.  Second, it encourages member states to adopt their own OA policies to buttress this EU-wide policy.  Third, EURAB is an independent agency created by the EU to make recommendations on research-policy questions of exactly this kind.  This report should carry weight. 
  2. Fourth, the policy it recommends is superb.  It's a mandate, not mere encouragement.  It gives authors a choice of repositories for deposit.  It caps the permissible embargo at six months.  It recommends deposit of the published version, if possible, and the final version of the peer-reviewed manuscript otherwise.  It uses what I call the dual deposit/release strategy or what Stevan Harnad calls the immediate deposit / optional access strategy (except that here, flipping the switch on the deposited article from closed to open is delayed but mandatory, not optional).  There's no hint of compromise based on misunderstandings about copyright.
  3. The only part of the EURAB recommendation not summarized in the press release is this:  "FP7 should include an action to invite proposals for an enhanced ranking of journals which includes not only traditional indicators of impact but also open access policies."
  4. Just one caveat:  The authors write that "some concerns over open access are justified, such as the quality of the peer review process...."  However the full report does not elaborate or justify this claim.  For a rebuttal, see my article, Open access and quality (October 2006).