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As Countries and Regional Blocks Make Open Science a Priority, the Developmental Potential of Open Access Comes into Relief

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Raynard Raphael Lao at TEDxXavierSchool: Innovation Built on Tradition, Xavier School, Manila, the Philippines, February 18, 2012 | © Courtesy of Mark Celvin A. Esquibel/Martin Gomez/Flickr.

August scientific journals flipped into Open Access and Open Science mandates’ expansion plans, such as in the European Union and United States, create a momentum not only for journal subscription deal cuts, but also for the recognition that paywalls hinder access to critical knowledge and its application in developing countries.

A Blog Article by Pablo Markin.

As the highly reputed Philippine Journal of Science, founded in 1906, covering natural, applied, exact and social sciences was transitioned to Open Access in early June, 2018, it also drew attention to the parlous state of largely underfunded science in the Philippines. Given that in this country science needs are met via the dispensations from the public coffer, the need for science, innovation and technology support is not the highest priority of the local government, even though science and technology are widely recognized as engines of economic growth and means for addressing pressing concerns, such as the development of flood hazard maps or a real-time monitoring of landslide risks.

In this respect, switching scholarly journals to Open Access can both make science more relevant for the public discourse and encourage fledgling scientists to pursue innovative endeavors. Similarly, California’s legislative intentions to mandate Open Access to all research results funded by state agencies after one year period from their publication not only represent potential gains for the accessibility of scientific knowledge, particularly to those without an affiliation with deep-pocketed academic or research institutions, but also promise to create a more level playing field globally for researchers from countries in which the costs of paywall-protected scientific journal subscriptions are prohibitive.

In fact, university libraries in Canada and the United States are increasingly unbundling their umbrella journal subscription deals with large global publishers, precisely due to their growing burden on the budgets of these institutions, such as Florida State University that was seeking to reduce the number of Elsevier journals to which it subscribes. While initially journal subscription deals have afforded significant discounts to academic institutions, over recent decades the compounded effect of unrelentingly growing price increases and Open Access adoption have reshaped the economics of the publishing market. Moreover, university faculty increasingly accept the necessity to cut subscription costs via contract renegotiations with publishers, especially as file sharing and Open Access offer both short-term and long-term transition paths to Open Science.

In this respect, in its long-term budgeting priorities, the European Commission anchors the principles of Open Access and Open Science in its Horizon Europe plans for the years 2021-2027. In the European Union vision, the funding for Open Access to scientific publications and research data is expected to promote innovation, such as in the domain of technology, via corresponding platforms and infrastructures. These goals also correspond to European and global intentions to make Open Access a default choice across all fields of science by 2020, such as by promoting Gold Open Access and integrating Open Access into journal subscription contracts.

By Pablo Markin

Featured Image Credits: Raynard Raphael Lao at TEDxXavierSchool: Innovation Built on Tradition, Xavier School, Manila, the Philippines, February 18, 2012 | © Courtesy of Mark Celvin A. Esquibel/Martin Gomez/Flickr.

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