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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Results of EC questionnaire on OA

CREST has released the results of its questionnaire on OA.  The questionnaire responses were due April 1, 2009, and the EC accepted the summary of responses on June 9, 2009.  (Thanks to Heinz Pampel.)

CREST is the Comité de la recherche scientifique et technique (or Scientific and Technical Research Committee).  One of its missions is to identify research and development priorities for the EU. 

From the questionnaire:

...On February 2007, the Commission adopted a Communication on scientific information in the digital age: access, dissemination and preservation (COM(2007)56)....On the basis of this Communication, on 22-23 November 2007, the 2832nd Competitiveness Council adopted Conclusions on scientific information in the digital age: access, dissemination and preservation (14865/07). The importance of the dissemination of knowledge created with public funds was also stressed by the Commission Recommendation on the management of intellectual property in knowledge transfer activities and Code of Practice for universities and other public research organisations (COM(2008)1329) adopted in April 2008 as a follow-up initiative to the European Research Area Green Paper (COM(2007)161).

These November 2007 Council Conclusions invited the Member States to take a series of actions, from 2007 onwards, to reinforce and coordinate relevant national strategies. They also invited the Commission to monitor good practices and support Member State policy coordination. The present questionnaire aims to take stock of the current status of implementation of these Council Conclusions with a view to designing future activities supporting the coordination of Member State activities....

[Question B.2]  Please describe the policies in place for dissemination of and access to scientific information in your Member State, including information on how these policies are financed.

[B.3]  Please describe the policies and arrangements in place in your Member State aiming to provide open access (free internet access for readers) to peer-reviewed scientific journal articles resulting from public research funding.

[B.4]  Please describe the policies and arrangements in place in your Member State aiming to provide open access to other publicly funded scientific research results (e.g. research data).

[B.5]  Please assess the situation in your Member State regarding:

  • the way in which researchers exercise their copyrights on scientific articles;
  • the level of investments in the dissemination of scientific information as compared to total investments in research;
  • the use of financial mechanisms to improve access (e.g. refunding VAT for digital journal subscriptions to libraries).

[B.6]  Please describe the policies and activities in your Member States with regard to "repositories" ("open archives") of scientific information (including repository sustainability and interoperability).

[B.7] Please describe any activities in your Member States bringing together main stakeholders in the debate on scientific information (e.g. scientists, funding bodies, libraries, scientific publishers)....

From the executive summary of the responses:

The Commission received 30 responses to the questionnaire on scientific information in the digital age, 25 from CREST members (EU Member States) and 5 from CREST observers....

National strategies on access and dissemination: Member States are increasingly attentive to the issues of access to and dissemination of digital scientific information. The growing number of national initiatives in this field shows a clear and encouraging move towards the development of policies in these areas. And yet, while many countries feature important activities coordinated by funding bodies, universities and/or libraries, to date there are very few of the nationally coordinated strategies or policies called for in the 2007 Council Conclusions on scientific information in the digital age: access, dissemination and preservation. Policies on open access to research data are less developed than policies on open access to peer-reviewed publications, and researchers are not yet sufficiently aware that open access is not necessarily in conflict with publishers' copyright provisions. Investment in the dissemination of scientific information as a percentage of investment in research is estimated between 1% and 10%....

Coordination activities on access and dissemination:...Important declarations include the Berlin Declaration, and position papers by the European Heads of Research Councils (EUROHORCS) and the European University Association (EUA). A noteworthy coordination initiative funded at national level is the Knowledge Exchange, including Danish, Dutch, German and UK-based organisations. While existing declarations and initiatives form a solid basis to build on, explicit common national funding body principles, for example on open access, are still missing. A number of international organisations such as the International Coalition of Library Consortia focus on negotiating big deals with publishers, and CERN is creating an innovative Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics (SCOAP3). Despite these advances, transparency regarding big deals is still lacking. Finally, significant coordination initiatives are underway regarding the interoperability of repositories, in particular via the European project DRIVER (Digital Repository Infrastructure Vision for European Research....

Role of the European Commission: Respondents generally expressed support for European Commission activities regarding access to, and dissemination and preservation of digital scientific information. They welcomed future activities, for example encouraging coordination and cooperation of Member State policies, and supporting further development of a pan-European e-Infrastructure.

Suggested follow-up actions for Member States

In the light of the above, three main follow-up actions are suggested (corresponding to the three areas for action referred to in the 2007 Council Conclusions):

  1. Formulate clear and coherent national strategies on access and dissemination: Where not yet the case, Member States should formulate national strategies on access and dissemination by building on existing initiatives initiated by other actors. Ideally, these should address open access, copyright, investment in the dissemination of research results, VAT rates for digital subscriptions, repository and interoperability issues, and the inclusion of stakeholders. The development of clear national strategies will facilitate European policy coordination.
  2. Enhance Member State coordination of policies on access and dissemination: Member States should build on existing coordination initiatives to further enhance the coordination of policies and practices on access and dissemination. Issues to address are open access, improving the transparency of big deals and negotiating contractual arrangements ensuring open access (versus only access for a limited group of users), and further work towards implementing trans-border interoperability of repositories. The European Commission can assist Member State coordination through support actions.
  3. Member States should ensure that the specificities of scientific information are taken into account within existing national preservation strategies....