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European Union requires Open Access

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Despite the growing support for Open Access within scientific community, the model needs a substantial backing from third parties. Money is essential in OA, and only governments are able to provide sufficient funds on a major scale. That is why OA needs help from official channels. And, truth to be told –  governmental programs and policies not always reflect the real needs of Open Access and (let alone if they are occasional step back in disseminating this model), still,  on many levels they help OA to gain ground and become more mainstream.

An example of top-down policy is the latest statement about publishing results of scientific research, coming from the very center of the European Union and expressed by Neelie Kroes, the commissioner responsible for Europe’s digital agenda. According to Neelie Kroes, EU will require to publish all new scientific research for free online. Of course, this policy is applying only to the research conducted by courtesy of the EU funding. Publishing research in OA will help small businesses and will lead to more innovative products. In the words of Neelie Kroes:

But taxpayers who are paying for that research will want to see something back. Directly – through open access to results and data. And indirectly – through making science work better for all of us.

That’s why we will require open access to all publications stemming from EU-funded research. That’s why we will progressively open access to the research data, too. And why we’re asking national funding bodies to do the same.

Ms. Kroes is also a co-author of the global Research Data Alliance – a project launched in cooperation with The Australian Commonwealth Government through the Australian National Data Service supported by the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy Program, the Education Investment Fund (EIF) Super Science Initiative and The United States of America through the RDA/US activity funded by the National Science Foundation. The aim for Research Data Alliance is to “accelerate international data-driven innovation and discovery by facilitating research data sharing and exchange, use and re-use, standards harmonization, and discoverability. This will be achieved through the development and adoption of infrastructure, policy, practice, standards, and other deliverables.”

The question now is how EU policy will go about the requirement for openness? The European Union’s support for OA has not emerged today, and the requests for the openness of research results have been declared and manifested before. The issue of Access to scientific research is a hot topic included in the EU policy as well. The new EU budget and programs will be in force soon; we will have a chance to see, if and how OA goals for science will be fulfilled.


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    “Money is essential in OA, and only governments are able to provide sufficient funds on a major scale. ”

    This conflates author-pays publishing in “Gold” OA journals with cost-free author self-archiving of articles published in subscription journals (“Green” OA).

    No extra money is needed for Green OA self-archiving. It just requires a clear mandate (requirement) to self-archive, by depositing the author’s final, peer-reviewed draft in the author’s institutional repository immediately upon acceptance for publication. The deposit should be made OA immediately (or after an embargo period whose allowable length should be as short as possible).

    Research Councils UK, under the influence of the publisher lobby, has adopted a mandate that prefers to pay for Gold OA, but it also (reluctantly) allows Green OA. But fortunately HEFCE (Higher Education Founding Council of England) has proposed to mandate immediate deposit of all articles as a precondition for eligibility for evaluation in the Research Excellence Framework, an important source of top-sliced research funding for UK universities.

    The EU OA mandate should be for Green OA only, with immediate deposit required (and no embargoes allowed to exceed 6 months). No extra money should be provided for Gold OA. Publication costs today are still being covered in full by worldwide institutional journal subscriptions. So paying for Gold OA today entails double-paying: subscriptions plus Gold OA fees (poached from scarce research funds).

    Journal subscriptions cannot be canceled until all journal articles are available by some other means. Globally mandating Green OA will provide that other means. Then subscriptions can be cancelled, releasing the institutional funds to pay for Gold OA without having to double pay — and also driving down the price of Gold OA (currently vastly inflated) to fair, affordable, sustainable levels, by offloading all access-provision and archiving onto the worldwide distributed network of Green OA institutional repositories (phasing out the publisher’s print and online edition and their costs):

    Post-Green Gold OA will be “Fair Gold.” Today’s pre-emptive, Pre-Green Gold OA is profligate “Fool’s Gold.”

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