Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Panel to evaluate the ERC

The EC has set up a six-member panel to evaluate the European Research Council (ERC).  From the February 24 announcement:

...The aim of this review, which comes after two years of operations, will be to scrutinize the ERC’s structure and mechanisms, to take stock of its achievements and to give advice on the direction this pioneering research funding initiative should take for the future. The review will be conducted by eminent representatives of the science and policy domains from the EU and US.

The Panel will be chaired by Professor Vaira Vike-Freiberga, former President of Latvia (1999-2007) and former Professor of Psychology at the University of Montreal; since December 2007 she is also the Vice-president of the Reflection Group on the long-term future of the European Union.

The other members will be:

  • Yves Mény (Rapporteur), President of the European University Institute;
  • Fiorella Kostoris Padoa Schioppa, Professor of Economics at "La Spienza", Rome; former President of ISAE;
  • Lars-Hendrik Röller, President of European School of Management and Technology, Berlin and Professor of Economics, Humboldt University, Berlin;
  • Lord (David) Sainsbury (Vice-Chair), Former Under Secretary of State at UK Department of Trade and Industry with responsibility for Science & Innovation; Head of Gatsby Charitable Foundation;
  • Elias Zerhouni, Former Director of National Institutes of Health, USA (until Oct 2008); previous executive Vice-dean of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA....


  • If you recall, the European Research Council (ERC) launched in February 2007, having already pledged to adopt an OA mandate in December 2006.  It's the only funding agency I know which committed to OA before its own launch.  In September 2007 it issued a position paper reiterating the need for an OA mandate, and officially adopted its OA mandate in December 2007
  • Elias Zerhouni's inclusion on the panel is very welcome.  He's an experienced administrator of the OA mandate at the NIH, and can defend OA policies against objections and misunderstanding.  Unfortunately, on this job he may have to.
  • David Sainsbury was instrumental in blocking OA in the UK for two years.  He rejected the July 2004 OA recommendations of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, a policy setback from which the UK did not recover until the adoption of the RCUK commitment to OA mandates in June 2006.  In 2005, David Prosser used the UK Freedom of Information Act to uncover evidence that Sainsbury had not been fair-minded in hearing the views of both sides.  During the time when he was supposed to be evaluating the parliamentary OA recommendations, Sainsbury met with OA opponents roughly twice as often as with OA proponents, and met with the Reed Elsevier CEO three times more often than any other stakeholder.  I have no objection to Sainsbury's presence on the panel, but his record of partiality should preclude him from being Vice-Chair. 
  • I don't know the OA positions or experience of the other four.
  • See our past posts on Sainsbury, Zerhouni, the ERC.