Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

EU Council of Ministers recommends public access

On May 16, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe issued a Recommendation on the public responsibility for higher education and research.  (Thanks to the INIST Libre Accès blog.)  It recommends that the member states adopt a series of principles.  For us the most relevant is #15:

Public authorities should endeavor to ensure that basic research remains a public good, inter alia through providing adequate funding for basic research, by elaborating and overseeing the implementation of codes of ethical behaviour in research and by seeking to prevent the misuse of research results.  Public authorities should further endeavor to ensure wide public access to research results to which no copyright restrictions apply, as well as to ensure that copyrights are granted and exercised with reason.


  • If this principle recommends OA at all, it's only for uncopyrighted research.  That's nearly all research data but nearly none of the new articles analyzing or interpreting those data.  I'd call it strong on data and weak on literature, but in fact I can't shake the suspicion that the good implication for data is inadvertent.  (If the ministers meant to call for OA to data, couldn't they just say so, as the OECD has?)  For the rest, the principle only recommends reducing irrational copyright behavior without a hint as to what might fall into that category.
  • And why not OA for peer-reviewed articles, or at least those based on publicly-funded research?  A European-wide OA mandate for this category of literature has been recommended by an EC-sponsored study (January 2006), the European Research Council (December 2006), the European Research Advisory Board (January 2007), the European University Association (January 2007), and 25,500+ individual European researchers and research institutions (January-February 2007). It is supported by the EU's eContentPlus program (April 2007) and largely implemented already by the FP7 grant agreement (April 2007). The EC itself has said that it's moving towards OA for this body of literature even if it won't be using a mandate (February 2007). The ministers are way behind other European leaders on this issue.
  • The statement is only available in a locked PDF with cut/paste turned off.  If I want to share the principle on sharing, I have to re-key it.  Can we expect the ministers to be very energetic in pushing these principles when their medium contradicts their message?