Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Sunday, March 25, 2007

An OA mandate for Europe in the draft FP7 grant agreement

Napoleon Miradon, Letter to MPs, a post from the AmSci OA Forum, March 24, 2007.  In this draft letter to members of the European parliament, Miradon points out that the EU already mandates deposit or collection of EU-funded research and permits (but does not require) its OA dissemination.  Excerpt:

The Commission's "Seventh Framework Programme Grant Agreement" already requires that every research contract funded under the Seventh Framework Programme should send to the Commission an electronic copy of every publication produced, and that the Commission shall, with appropriate safeguards, be authorised to publish every document sent to it.... [See the following.]

"FP7 Grant Agreement - Annex II General Conditions Version 20.12.06 ISC clean 3."

Article II.30 (Dissemination) says - "... Furthermore, an electronic copy of the published version or the final manuscript accepted for publication shall also be provided to the Commission at the same time for the purpose set out in Article II.12(2) if this does not infringe any rights of third parties."

And Article II.12. (Information and communication) says - "... 2. The Commission shall be authorised to publish, in whatever form and on or by whatever medium, the following information: ... ­ the details/references and the abstracts of scientific publications relating to foreground and, where provided pursuant to Article II.30, the published version or the final manuscript accepted for publication; ..."

Also see Stevan Harnad, The European Commission has already mandated Green OA! Open Access Archivangelism, March 25, 2007.  In this post, Stevan quotes all of Miradon's draft letter and comments on how to improve upon his suggestion.  Excerpt:

This existing EU/EC policy is already a godsend, as it already provides the basis for the EU to adopt the Immediate-Deposit/Optional-Access Mandate (ID/OA) (also called the "dual deposit/release strategy") without any further need of legislation or consultation:

As the EU already requires (i.e., mandates) both (1) the electronic copy of the publication, and (2) the right to make it OA (if and when the copyright agreement with the publisher allows it), the only thing left to stipulate is how "send[ing] to the commission an electronic copy" should be done, immediately upon acceptance for publication, in the form of depositing it in the researcher's own IR (preferably, or in a OAI-compliant CR otherwise), in immediate Open Access if possible, otherwise in Closed Access -- and merely sending the commission the URL for the (Closed Access) deposit! ...


  1. This could be big, and for just the reasons that Napoleon and Stevan indicate.  I'm speaking guardedly because the key document, the FP7 Grant Agreement, is just a draft. It's dated December 20, 2006, and as of February 2007 (scroll to p. 7) the EC was still working on the language.  I'd welcome an update on this!
  2. But if it has been or will be adopted, this is a breakthrough.  The EC is deliberating about when, whether, or how far to adopt the OA mandate (recommendation A1) from last year's EC-sponsored report.  But the heart of that recommendation is already contained in the draft FP7 guidelines.  This could change the question for the EC.  Instead of deciding, from scratch, what policy to adopt or what to accept and what to reject from its own report, it would only have to decide what refinements to make in the existing policy or draft.
  3. I agree with Stevan that one refinement should be to require deposit in an OA, OAI-compliant repository, rather than email delivery to an EU office.  I also agree with Stevan that we should separate the timing of deposit (which should be immediate) from the timing of OA release (which may be delayed). 
  4. That makes the length of the permissible embargo another refinement.  Unlike Stevan, who would accept "optional" OA, I'd like to see a firm deadline for releasing deposited articles to OA --in effect changing the second half of his "immediate deposit / optional access" (IDOA) to "delayed access" or "eventual access" (IDDA or IDEA).  The length of the embargo might vary according to the kind of journal.  It might also vary over time, say, starting at x months and moving to x-n months over a year or two.  All that can be left for future negotiations.
  5. Each of the two key FP7 guidelines has potential loopholes.   Article II.12 only authorizes OA dissemination "where provided pursuant to Article II.30", and II.30 only authorizes dissemination where it is compatible with existing copyrights.  If the EC is clear that its policy applies to the final version of the author's peer-reviewed manuscript, and not to the published edition, then it should clear these hurdles.  But one final refinement would be ensure that with explicit language.