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European, International Frameworks and Partnerships Likely to Benefit Open Access

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Net Futures 2016: CAPS meet-up, Brussels April 2016, April 20, 2016 | © Courtesy of Fundación Cibervoluntarios.

In response to dramatic calls for Open Access (OA) promotion by European Union (EU) officials, EU-level and international collaborations feature OA options in research funding and partnership agreements.

A Blog Article by Pablo Markin.

Over a year has passed since a call for the promotion of Open Access (OA) in the European Union (EU) has been made in May, 2016. The Brussels-based EU Competitiveness Council has set a possibly ambitious goals of making all scientific articles seeing light in Europe conform to OA requirements. In recent years, both individual EU members states, e.g., the Netherlands, and various EU bodies, such as the European Commission, have been issuing broad OA-promoting recommendations for improving the accessibility of scientific papers and research data. While the announcement of these OA guidelines has been acclaimed internationally and locally, such as by the he League of European Research Universities, the Europe-wide transition to OA remains fraught with challenges, not least to a relatively slow pace at which OA is officially adopted and extended, country-level horizons for a mandatory status of OA, as far as publishing scientific output is concerned. Furthermore, existing business models of journal publishers are likely to be able to accommodate OA via Green OA within the format of which a restricted-access period exists, even though governments and publicly funded bodies favor Gold OA, when access is immediate upon publication.

In this respect, EU-level policy-making can, and apparently does, facilitate the adoption of OA also beyond the EU borders, such as including  international partnership frameworks, as the EU press release on the recent installment of the EU-China summit indicates. Given that the EU cooperates with China in the framework of the Horizon 2020 funding program that enables the co-financing of research and innovation initiatives, this partnership not only demonstrates that EU research networks span the world, but also promotes best practices exchange as concerns open access. In the framework of this partnership, bi-lateral, i.e., EU-China, OA to scientific publications and research data is planned to be encouraged, as part of the joint push for researched-based innovation.

OA-promoting EU-level initiatives and directives are much needed, as recent data indicate that only 61% of peer-reviewed publications enjoying the latest round of Horizon 2020 funding have been published in OA journals. European Commission data also indicate that no upward tendency in terms of OA adoption, as reflected in the share of scientific articles published in OA, has been found as compared to the preceding EU framework research funding program.

Thus, it could be that via the application of its existing OA-related recommendations to targeted international partnerships and frameworks for research funding and collaboration, the EU may be contributing to the wider adoption of OA.

By Pablo Markin

Featured Image Credits: Net Futures 2016: CAPS meet-up, Brussels April 2016, April 20, 2016 | © Courtesy of Fundación Cibervoluntarios.

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