Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Sunday, November 18, 2007

More from the EC on the possibility of an OA mandate

If you recall, the European Commission (EC) Research Directorate-General issued a green paper in April 2007 asking (in Question 21) whether the EU should mandate OA for the publications and data that result from publicly-funded research --this despite the fact that the EC had already collected mountains of opinion on the question in the build-up to its February 2007 meeting on scientific publication.  The EC called for public comments on the green paper (May-August 2007) and reported the preliminary results in September 2007.  On September 24, 2007, it convened a meeting in Brussels to analyze the public comments specifically on Question 21, and on a similar question (KSH2) in a follow-up questionnaire, and has now released the following:

  • Agenda of meeting
  • Participant list
  • Analysis of responses to questionnaire - Summary Report
  • Presentation of analysis
  • Minutes of the meeting
  • See especially the last two.  The presentation of the analysis is a set of slides by Jan Velterop in which he breaks down the responses by type of respondent, highlights representative comments, and makes recommendations in light of them.  Here's an excerpt from the minutes:

    The meeting was opened by Jean-Michel Baer, Director of the Science, Economy and Society Directorate within the Research Directorate-General (DG Research). He...emphasised the importance of the hearing as a source of input for the 8-10 October 2007 Portuguese Presidency of the European Union conference on "the Future of Science and Technology in Europe", and for the next policy steps to be taken in the area of "knowledge-sharing"....

    Jan Velterop, Director of Open Access at Springer, followed with an analysis of responses to question KSH2 of the public consultation on the Green Paper on the ERA....Findings and tentative conclusions include the following:

    • 86% of questionnaire respondents (692) responded to the section on knowledge sharing.
    • 70% of respondents are in favour of making raw data more readily available, whereas 15% disagree with the notion that this would be necessary.
    • 70% of respondents favour data storage at the EU-level.
    • 65% of all respondents favour free access (for the reader) to publicly funded scientific publications; 26% disagree with this type of access.
    • About two thirds of all respondents state that research publications resulting from publicly funded research should be available immediately; some 25% favour a 6- month embargo period, and 15% a 12-month embargo period.
    • 76% of the respondents state that articles should be available in an EU-level repository....
    • The distinction between repository levels (local, national, EU-level) is largely irrelevant in a digital world. The question is not where scientific information is located, but how it can be accessed....

    The meeting continued with a presentation by Deirdre Furlong (DG Research) on an internal information gathering exercise on how long embargo periods would need to be in the case of an open access mandate for publications resulting from Framework Programme-funded projects....

    After these presentations, participants were invited to engage in debate on the information presented and to make individual statements. The debate was very lively. Individual statements and comments are not reported here, but the following list gives and overview of the issues raised:

    • ...All stakeholders seem to recognise that, in the field of access to scientific information, a lot of change has already taken place and that further change is inevitable. While publishers stress that access has improved considerably over the past years, the research community believes that it must be improved further....
    • There is a need to move beyond entrenched positions in order to help policymakers make sound decisions. Some form of Open Access is a direction supported by many, but not by all. In what direction should and will positions evolve? What compromises are possible?
    • The debate persists on whether to move towards open access through repositories and funding body mandates (“green” open access) or through paid open access models / “reader pays” solutions (“gold” open access). Are there are other paths towards open access? Can the two options coexist?
    • The research system functions through the incentives of academic career advancement and recognition rather than financial reward. It traditionally places most emphasis on publication in journals with high impact factors. Effective dissemination or open access publication are not rewarded in themselves. How could the research incentive system be altered to improve access and dissemination?
    • IPR and access/dissemination issues are often not addressed together or not sufficiently managed by public research organisations (e.g. universities). What are the issues that these types of policies need to pay attention to and how can public research organisations be encouraged to develop policies on knowledge sharing?
    • The focus on the open access debate is on scientific journals in the natural and applied sciences. The somewhat different issues raised by the social sciences and humanities and by the case of monographs must not be forgotten.
    • The European Commission should make use of existing initiatives and principles such as the OECD principles on access to data, the 2003 Berlin Declaration, and the previous work done by national research funding bodies....