More than two weeks ago the 2nd Annual Global Meeting of the Global Research Council in Berlin had ended. The conference gathered the heads of 70 research-funding organizations from around the world. Among the many topics discussed was also the matter of Open Access.
In the last few years Open Access has spread quickly and become a very important factor in the development of science. This state of affairs is confirmed not only by the growing number of OA publishers and publications, but also by the increase in the funding of OA by universities and research institutions, as well as by governmental measures in the support of Open Access in many countries.
The importance of Open Access was also confirmed by the Berlin conference in a statement which emphasized the relevance of OA publishing as the main paradigm of scientific communication through “sharing research publications openly is a means to increase the quality of research communication and thus of research itself.” An Action Plan was agreed by the participants, with the stress on three basic principles: encouragement, raising awareness, and support for researchers who wish to present their work in Open Access:
“The implementation requires engaging a number of stakeholders: in addition to scientists and scholars themselves, for instance, universities, science organizations, libraries, and publishers.”
The voice of the GRC is very important in the discussion concerning Open Access and its future. It is a signal that research institutions see in OA a critical tool for the development of science and sharing of scientific knowledge. The basic principles on OA formulated by the GRC are well accepted, though scholars are still quite reluctant to publish in OA, principally due to the scarcity of funding for OA publishing. That too has been known and accepted for a long time. The only question that remains is what practical steps will be taken, and by whom, to overcome it.