Worldwide call for free and open access to European research results

Worldwide call for free and open access to European research results

Over 10,000 individuals sign petition to European Commission to guarantee public access to publicly funded research

January 29th 2007. Nobel laureates Harold Varmus and Rich Roberts are among the more than ten thousand concerned researchers, senior academics, lecturers, librarians, and citizens from across Europe and around the world who are signing an internet petition calling on the European Commission to adopt polices to guarantee free public access to research results and maximise the worldwide visibility of European research.

Organisations too are lending their support, with the most senior representatives from over 500 education, research and cultural organisations in the world adding their weight to the petition, including CERN, the UK’s Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, the Italian Rector’s Conference, the Royal Netherlands Academy for Arts & Sciences (KNAW) and the Swiss Academy for the Humanities and Social Sciences (SAGW), alongside the petition’s sponsors, SPARC Europe, JISC, the SURF Foundation, the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Danish Electronic Research Library (DEFF).

The petition calls on the EC to formally endorse the recommendations outlined in the EC-commissioned Study on the Economic and Technical Evolution of the Scientific Publication Markets of Europe. Published in early 2006, the study made a number of important recommendations to help ensure the widest possible readership for scholarly articles. In particular, the first recommendation called for ‘Guaranteed public access to publicly-funded research results shortly after publication’.

The EC will host a meeting in Brussels in February to discuss its position regarding widening access and the petition is intended to convey the overwhelming level of public support for the recommendations of the EC study.

JISC Executive Secretary Dr Malcolm Read, said: ‘Maximising public investment in European research and making more widely available its outputs are key priorities for the European Union as it seeks to enhance the global standing of European research and compete in a global market. JISC is proud to be sponsoring a petition which seeks these vital goals and which has already attracted such widespread support.’

One of the petition’s signatories, Richard J Roberts, Nobel Prize winner for Physiology or Medicine in 1993, said: “Open access to the published scientific literature is one of the most desirable goals of our current scientific enterprise. Since most science is supported by taxpayers it is unreasonable that they should not have immediate and free access to the results of that research. Furthermore, for the research community the literature is our lifeblood. By impeding access through subscriptions and then fragmenting the literature among many different publishers, with no central source, we have allowed the commercial sector to impede progress. It is high time that we rethought the model and made sure that everyone had equal and unimpeded access to the whole literature. How can we do cutting edge research if we don’t know where the cutting edge is?”

The petition is available at: www.ec-petition.eu/ http://www.ec-petition.eu/

The EC-commissioned Study on the Economic and Technical Evolution of the
Scientific Publication Markets of Europe is available at:
http://ec.europa.eu/research/science-society/pdf/scientific-publication-study_en.pdf

The petition is sponsored by JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee, UK),
SURF (Netherlands), SPARC Europe, DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft,
Germany), DEFF (Danmarks Elektroniske Fag- og Forskningsbibliotek, Denmark).

For further information, please contact: Philip Pothen (JISC) (p.pothen (at) jisc.ac.uk)