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Science Europe announces its strong position on OA: “Open Access no later than six months after first publication; NO for hybrid model”

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Science Europe is an association of 51 European national research organisations, represented by the European Research Funding Organisations (RFO) and the Research Performing Organisations (RPO), based in Brussels, and it promotes the collective interests of the Research Funding and Research Performing Organisations of Europe. Today, Science Europe has published its position statement on Open Access.

The document “Principles for the Transition to Open Access to Research Publications” clearly supports Open Access in research. Besides pointing out the obvious advantages of OA, it also presents the principles that had been agreed upon by the Science Europe Member Organisations. Among these principles we can find a very interesting statement, which says that:

“The common goal of Science Europe Members is to shift to a research publication system in which free access to research publications is guaranteed, and which avoids undue publication barriers. This involves a move towards Open Access, replacing the present subscription system with other publication models whilst redirecting and reorganising the current resources accordingly”.

In the spirit of these principles, the Science Europe Member Organisations should continue to support any valid approaches to achieve Open Access, recognise repositories and related facilities as the key strategic research infrastructure, co-ordinate efforts to ensure the efficient and cost effective use of public funds, and combine programmes for covering Open Access costs with budget control mechanisms, as well as to build up monitoring systems for these costs; and most importantly, require that funding of Open Access publication fees is part of a transparent cost structure, incorporating a clear picture of publishers’ service costs.

What is not very surprising is the claim by Science Europe that the hybrid model does not work nor advances Open Access. The document also contains some other important statements. For example, that OA is equally an opportunity to re-use information with as few restrictions as possible, or that results of research and scientific papers should be opened no later than 6 months after first publication (except HSS where embargo period can be longer, but must be no more than 12 months). Science Europe refers also to the role of governments in the process of opening science:

“Governments should give due consideration to the fact that public funds for journal subscriptions often come from other ministries or institutions than those directly responsible for funding research; consequently, some rebalancing of budgets may be required.”

The statement presented by Science Europe is clear and strongly supports Open Access in science. It gives a guideline for its own members but also for other research institutions that are considering the development and implementation of an OA policy. However, this document is very general and besides the broad principles, it does not provide any strict rules. Nonetheless, because of the broad range of members of Science Europe, it gives hope that the stated principles will be implemented by national research organisations and will push the development of Open Access in Europe.

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