Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The priority of OA in Norway

Lisbet Rugtvedt, Free and open learning and research in Norway, a presentation at the Technology for Participation conference (Kristiansand, Norway, June 27, 2007).  Rugtvedt is Norway's State Secretary for the Ministry of Education and Research.  (Thanks to Co-Action.)

...The Open Access-Movement has gained momentum and attention since its inception through the Budapest Open Access Initiative back in 2002. Both pillars of Open Access – Self-archiving and Publishing – are important instruments for the preservation, dissemination and democratisation of academic work.

Open Access has a number of distinct advantages:

  • For scientists, Open Access Self-Archiving offers a centralised electronic archive for their academic work that can be easily disseminated to colleagues and interested parties.
  • The institution will be more visible.
  • Open access is instrumental in making results of academic inquiry a common good. This can be of vital importance, e.g. for developing countries, who struggle in getting access to research findings from countries in the western hemisphere.

In Norway, one of the major initiatives in the field of Open Access is NORA, a joint venture between the university libraries at several of our universities and colleges. The main goal of this project, funded by the Norwegian Digital Library, is to further a more co-ordinated and forceful development of open institutional archives in Norway. Four of our six universities have established such archives, and they collaborate on this, and the university colleges are beginning to collaborate. Other major Norwegian initiatives include the Museum Project at four of our universities aiming at the development of joint database systems for digitising the collections at our university museums as well as The Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre, which is a national source of information on biodiversity. The organisations main function is to supply the public with updated and accessible information on Norwegian species and ecosystems.

The most challenging part of Open Access is related to Open Access publishing. Open access has been the subject of much discussion amongst several groups, and some even see it as a threat. However, it is my firm belief that Open Access publishing can be an important tool in order to increase access to and dissemination of research. Dissemination is after all the third main area of activity in higher education, and we owe it to the public at large to facilitate easy access to research financed by public funding. Open Access is also well suited for younger researchers who need to get a high number of citations early in their careers.

On the other hand, let me also be clear on the following: Open Access publishing must not run the risk of being perceived as second rate. If so, Open Access publishing will by many is regarded as a fringe activity. I think the ideals of the Open Access movement should be paired with the traditions of peer reviewing well embedded in Academia.

Let me also briefly comment on the role of government with regard to Open Access. I think governments can play a number of roles as a facilitator of Open Access:

  • Governments can ensure the sufficient infrastructure for Open Access initiatives.
  • Governments can ensure that the legislation, including IPR issues, facilitates Open Access.
  • Governments must be clear advocates of academic quality and peer reviewing, also for Open Access publishing.... 

The OECD recently published a report from their study on Open Educational Resources. The report, which has the interesting title “Giving Knowledge for Free: The Emergence of Open Educational Resources” contains a number of interesting issues and finding. Let me dwell on some of these....

Ladies and gentlemen, dear guests: At the end of the day free and open learning and research goes to the very heart of our political project; to secure high quality education for all in a lifelong learning perspective. Access to digital content and training opportunities throughout our lives are necessary in modern society.

As regards Free Software and Open Access, we are grateful for the pioneering efforts of the Free Software and Open Access movement. Their invaluable work is very important for the world of education and research. Now the time has come to bridge the empowering potential of Free Software and Open Access with the need for mainstreaming and the quest for quality....

Comment.  Informed, intelligent, and inspiring.  Imagine having a cabinet secretary or minister in your country who could give this talk.