EU strengthens its support for OA

EU supports open access to scientific and scholarly information, an announcement from SURF, October 29, 2008.  Excerpt:

The European Commission has thrown its weight behind the movement to make science and scholarship more transparent and socially responsible. The European Commissioner for Science and Research, Janez Poto?nik, supports the call for open access, which will make scientific and scholarly information freely available via digital storage areas (“repositories”) on the Internet. SURF has been pressing for open access since 2004 and actively promotes this development in the Netherlands. Mr Poto?nik has now written to SURF’s director, Wim Liebrand, telling him that the Commission will encourage all recipients of EU subsidies to make published scientific/scholarly articles available to the public. This will prevent similar research being duplicated, thus saving researchers time and resources. Mr Liebrand is extremely gratified by the EU’s support: “After years of verbal support for the idea that the results of publicly financed research should also be publicly accessible, the EU is now actually taking steps to make that idea a reality.”

Mr Poto?nik also speaks highly of the powerful open access initiatives by Knowledge Exchange, the European partnership of national education and research institutions, which resulted in the Berlin Declaration, a widely supported call for public availability of publically financed research results. The European Commission has taken the petition to heart and the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (“FP7”) includes a pilot project for open access. The programme obliges researchers to make the results of subsidised research available via a digital repository. The pilot project is evidence of the European Commission’s commitment to making the results of research carried out within FP7 available as widely and effectively as possible with the aim of achieving the optimum impact both inside and outside the world of science and scholarship.

The Commission is also helping to build up the infrastructure for providing access to scientific/scholarly information. Examples of this action include financing infrastructural projects such as DRIVER (Digital Repository Infrastructure Vision for European Research) and a variety of studies to examine the effect of new business models for scientific publication. Mr Poto?nik concludes that the Member States intend formulating joint policy on access to scientific/scholarly information….

Comment.  As SURF says, the EU announced a pilot OA project in August 2008.  What it didn’t mention is that the pilot project mandates OA for only 20% of the EU’s research budget for 2007-2013.  That’s why it matters that Poto?nik told Liebrand that "the Commission will encourage all recipients of EU subsidies to make published scientific/scholarly articles available to the public" (emphasis added).  The other good sign here is Poto?nik’s public statement that "Member States intend formulating joint policy on access to scientific/scholarly information".