Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Launch of an important European OA initiative

In Belgium last week, 14 European university rectors met at the University of Liege to launch a European campaign to persuade research institutions to adopt strong, local OA policies.  (Thanks to Alma Swan.)  From today's announcement:

On Thursday, October 18, the Rector of the University of Liege hosted the Rectors of the Universities of Trieste and Rome 2, Roma 3, Polytechnic of Catalonia in Barcelona, Vicenza, Porto, from Salford, Lancaster, Rotterdam (U. Erasmus), Turin, Antwerp, Ghent and Southampton, as well as the chairmen or directors of the Paul Ehrlich Institute, the Instituto Superiore di Sanita, Caspur Consortium, the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and a representative of the European Commission .

The purpose of the meeting was to establish the foundations of a European movement for Open Access to scientific and scholarly publications: EurOpenScholarship.

The Rector of U, Liege has been involved in the movement to free research publications from the financial straitjacket imposed on universities and research centers by the large publishers. Since 1993, while the price index rose by about 30%, journal prices have risen to more than 275%, making it impossible for a normally funded institution to access all the literature essential for conducting good research.

Despite the Berlin Declaration in 2003 and the European Petition of 2007, few universities have actually implemented a vigorous open access policy. That is why the Chancellor of U. Liege wanted to gather in Liege the senior leadership of the European universities that are the most advanced in this respect and to launch an initiative that provides a practical follow-up to the declaration already signed by so many research institutions.

The meeting resulted in the creation of the EurOpenScholarship whose goal will be to continue efforts by informing the European university communities about the opportunities available to researchers today for providing open access, as well as to establish, in the universities and research centers in Europe, a central institutional repository (in Liege, "DIGITHEQUE"), allowing publications to be deposited and, wherever possible, made openly accessible to all.

The University of Liege, which signed a massive OA petition in 2007 (the highest number of signatures from a single university) is positioning itself as a pioneer and clearly much of this is now considered the way of the future for scientific publication. The ambition is to spread this message across Europe.


  • This is important.  Universities can provide OA to their own research output without waiting for action by funding agencies or governments.  More than a dozen departments and universities around the world are already trying.  The Liege initiative is the first in which universities are acting in concert, both to work out strong policies for themselves and to persuade other universities to adopt strong policies.  Kudos to all involved, especially to Liege's rector, Bernard Rentier.
  • The University of Liege announcement not only gives the same news in French, but includes 22 photos of the event.
  • Liege itself adopted an OA mandate in March 2007.

Update.  Also see Stevan Harnad's 23 minute video, which was shown at the meeting.  Stevan writes:  "Please feel free to use it to promote Open Access Mandates and Metrics at your own institution. (The very brief intro is in French; the rest is in English.)"