EU Proposes To Provide Open Access To The Results Of Research It Funds
from the it's-happening dept
Yesterday, Techdirt reported on the UK government’s plans to make publicly-funded scientific research freely available as open access. One concern was that its approach required funds to be diverted from research to pay for the article processing charges levied by so-called “gold” open access titles. One figure being bandied around was about $80 million per year, but a new report in the Guardian suggests this is a huge over-estimate, and that the true cost will be more like a fifth of that figure.
The same article notes that the government was not the only one making strong open access moves in the UK:
Research Councils UK, a coalition of the UK’s biggest research funders, released its own updated open access policy, which is even more forthright than the broader government policy in requiring true open access that allows free commercial re-use. And maybe most important of all in the long term, flying in under the radar, the Higher Education Funding Council for England announced plans to require open access in all publications evaluated for the Research Evaluation Framework. This will remove the main reason that traditionalists have shied away from open access: fear that publications in newer OA journals will not be perceived as prestigious as those in long-established subscription journals.
As that points out, the requirements of these two research funders are even more stringent than the UK government’s plans, and should accelerate the move to open access well in advance of the latter’s introduction, by placing open access at the heart of academic evaluation in the UK.
Hard on the heels of those UK announcements, the European Commission has now released details of its own proposed open access policy:
the Commission will make open access to scientific publications a general principle of Horizon 2020, the EU’s Research & Innovation funding programme for 2014-2020. As of 2014, all articles produced with funding from Horizon 2020 will have to be accessible:
articles will either immediately be made accessible online by the publisher (‘Gold’ open access) — up-front publication costs can be eligible for reimbursement by the European Commission; or
researchers will make their articles available through an open access repository no later than six months (12 months for articles in the fields of social sciences and humanities) after publication (‘Green’ open access).
Researchers can therefore opt either for immediate “gold” open access, where fees are covered by the EU, or to publish in traditional titles with delayed “green” open access afterwards. In addition, the Commission is hopping on the open data bandwagon:
The Commission will also start experimenting with open access to the data collected during publicly funded research (e.g. the numerical results of experiments), taking into account legitimate concerns related to the fundee’s commercial interests or to privacy.
That may seem a little timid, but it’s worth bearing in mind that the EU tends to move cautiously: it first started flirting with the idea of open access back in 2006, as this background page listing related initiatives make plain. Another aspect of open access that the European Commission has only begun to explore is providing the software used to produce scientific results (pdf), an idea discussed on Techdirt last month:
The Commission will also encourage, where appropriate, the publication of software codes used to produce or process the data.
It’s worth emphasizing that these are just proposals, and subject to revision. But currently they include a call for individual EU countries to adopt similar policies with a goal of making 60% of European publicly-funded research articles available under open access by 2016. Together with all the other national moves around the world, the EU’s far-reaching plans would seem to signal that open access has reached a tipping point, and could soon be the norm.