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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Editorial support for the EUA's OA recommendations

Ignasi Labastida i Juan, Let's open the university!  IPR Helpdesk, April-June 2008.  An editorial.  Excerpt:

Last March Barcelona hosted the spring conference of the European University Association (EUA), an association with 791 members in 46 countries across Europe. More than 300 rectors attended the meeting at the University of Barcelona receiving a wide coverage in the media. However the resolutions adopted there did not receive much attention. Among all of them I would like to mention the set of recommendations on open access for scientific knowledge, approved then by the EUA Council. Those recommendations are aimed to raise awareness of the importance of the open access issue within the university community....

The adoption of those recommendations follows similar initiatives from universities, institutions and funding agencies around the world especially in the UK and the USA where mandates and even laws are flourishing to require results from funded research to be published on public repositories open to anyone without toll access. At the European level, some discussion about mandates started a few years ago but only the European Research Council (ERC) has already adopted a policy on open access following the idea that the results of publicly funded research should be publicly available as soon as possible.

The current situation is the answer from the scientific community towards the evolution of the traditional publishing model where for a long time a few companies have had an exclusive copyright on scientific results and they have decided how to disseminate that knowledge and who could access it. For many years, scientists have done research, have written and have reviewed articles, and have paid for accessing journals without expecting any economic compensation because they only wanted attribution and reputation to following their career. This situation of publish or perish has been used by publishers to monopolize that knowledge, mainly created in universities and research centres, and they have used the copyright to lock it even forbidding reproductions on authors' websites or authors' institution portals. Fortunately things are changing. In order to face new emerging models as open access journals that use copyright to open not to lock or the requirements from funding agencies to publish on public repositories to any result published in peer reviewed journals, the publishing companies are opening their rules allowing some acts forbidden before as the reproduction of full-text articles on institutional repositories.

Nevertheless we should not stop our efforts here. There is still a long way to achieve a full open access where no legal barriers will be imposed to spread the scientific knowledge. We will see how the recommendations are implemented in each institution but universities should not be alone, what about public sector information? Why it has to be locked by default? ...


  • Thanks to Richard Poynder for the alert, and for pointing out that IPR Helpdesk is funded by the EC to educate European businesses about intellectual property.  I don't know of any comparable pro-IP organization to embrace OA with this enthusiasm. 
  • For background, see my blog post on the EUA recommendations.