Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Monday, September 03, 2007

ERC reiterates need for OA mandates in Europe

The Scientific Council of the European Research Council (ERC) has issued a new position paper on Relaunching the European Research Area (ERA), September 3, 2007.  Excerpt:

The Scientific Council of the ERC was asked by Commissioner J. Poto?nik to contribute ideas towards the re-launching of the European Research Area, specifically as related to the Commission’s Green Paper....

[A]ccessible repositories for materials and research tools are already a necessity rather than an option. In the age of the Internet, free and efficient access to information, even in the form of original data, will be the key for sustained progress. To achieve this, significant investment is required to establish repositories for data, publications and materials where needed, or to upgrade and maintain existing repositories. Sustained investment is mandatory to secure curation of very large data sets, such as genomic and related biological information, and to guarantee open, efficient accessibility to it. Open access to publications and more generally processed data (information) is a concept already strongly supported by the scientific community. The ERC is on record with a recommendation that the outcome of research it supports be published in print or electronic publications, and be freely accessible as soon as possible, preferably no later than 6 months from publication.

The importance of additional access to unprocessed data is now beginning to be widely understood: it allows fresh analysis and utilisation beyond what the originator of the data had in mind. A number of repository resources for data and material exist in Europe, but suffer from lack of sustained support, simply because there have been no instruments in the European Framework Programmes for funding infrastructures of this kind.

The EU should also encourage the ongoing efforts to support and, where appropriate, to enforce open access to scientific information, while not endangering long trusted peer review systems based on scientific integrity and the quality of scientific publications. Critical for such systems are high quality and affordable journals, including those that are published by scientific societies and thus recycle publication profits to support scientific activities. A prerequisite for this policy is the existence of reliable, freely accessible repositories for scientific publications. While the physical sciences, mathematics and computer science have the worldwide, US-based and federally-funded arXiv Internet preprint library, the biomedical and life sciences currently rely mostly on the US-based and federally-funded Pub Med Central which has a mirror at the Hinxton (UK) Genome Campus. Ideally, such infrastructures should encompass not only preprints but also the final publications in an Internet-accessible, searchable format, connected to repositories that allow access to and free utilization of primary data for further research, per the previous paragraph. Europe can and should pioneer development of similar repositories in all fields, including the humanities and social sciences. Filling these deficits and building upon new opportunities should be a major objective of ERA, towards optimal utilization of scientific data and information that has been secured by public investment, to the benefit of both science and society. It should be noted that the ERC is currently refining its policies concerning open access and intends to contribute actively to the ongoing debate and to developments in this important area....