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The Performance of the Austrian Science Fund’s Open Access Promotion Policy

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Entry area of the Library & Learning Center of the Vienna University of Economics and Business, Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, April 19, 2017 | © Thomas Fabian.

Concerted policies of the Austrian Science Fund lead to an overwhelming adoption of Open Access for research publications.

A Question and Answer Session with Katharina Rieck and Doris Haslinger.

Seeking to inquire into its open access promotion policies, handling of article processing charges and the viability of open access solutions, Pablo Markin has conducted an e-mail interview with Katharina Rieck and Doris Haslinger from the Austrian Science Fund. The Austrian Science Fund, or, in German, Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF), is Austria’s central funding organization for academic research. The purpose of the FWF is to support the ongoing development of scientific and basic research both on the national level and the international one. In line with its policy guidelines, the FWF seeks to contribute to cultural development, the advancement of knowledge-based society, and value creation in Austria and around the world.

Pablo Markin (PM): Could you please describe the performance of the FWF open access promotion policy?

Katharina Rieck (KR) & Doris Haslinger (DH): As one of the first signatories to the Berlin Declaration, the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) introduced its Open Access (OA) Policy as early as 2004. Our organisation requires all its grant holders to make their research output as openly accessible as possible, while supporting them in doing so (cf. FWF’s Open Access Compliance Monitoring). Our policy includes Gold, Hybrid and Green Open Access and requires authors to self-archive their research results. Furthermore, the FWF also recommends its grant recipients that they archive their research data in a sustainable data repository.

According to a study conducted by PASTEUR4OA, the Austrian Science Fund has one of the six most effective Open Access policies worldwide. This has been confirmed by a research report on Open Access policy effectiveness and a 2015 case study on OA funders published by PASTEUR4OA that provide further information on this topic.

PM: How different is your approach with regard to article processing charges as opposed to book processing fees?

KR & DH: FWF grant recipients can request additional funding for article processing charges through our Peer-Reviewed Publications programme. The FWF provides as much as €2,500 for Gold Open Access articles and €1,500 for Hybrid Open Access articles up to three years after the end of a project. Together with the Austrian Academic Library Consortia (KEMÖ), the FWF concluded one of the first offsetting deals worldwide, and we now have open access agreements in place with the following publishers: Institute of Physics (IOP), Taylor & Francis, and Springer. The FWF also has direct agreements with other academic publishers of peer-reviewed journals.

The FWF’s Stand-Alone Publications programme, which is open to scholars of all disciplines, supports publications such as monographs and edited volumes in order to make them available to a broader public. The FWF provides a lump-sum grant for production costs, simultaneous open access publication (under a CC BY license) and editing, foreign-language editing or translation expenses. In addition to the conventional publication forms, mentioned above, the FWF also promotes new formats, such as apps, wiki-based publications, annotated scientific databases, and web-based publications enriched with various media (e.g. audio, video, animation).

PM: As the number of open and hybrid access initiatives seems to be on the rise, how do you see the role of the FWF in ensuring the viability of these solutions?

KR & DH: In its efforts to promote the worldwide transition to open access, the FWF supports the Max Planck Society and its OA 2020 mission, and works in close cooperation with other funders like NWO, Wellcome Trust and DFG. The FWF not only has offsetting and open access agreements with publishers in place, but also supports alternative publication platforms such as the Open Library of Humanities (OLH), OAPEN, Europe PubMed Central, arXiv and SCOAP³. In addition, our organisation provides financial support for platforms like the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and ORCID.

PM: How have universities, publishing houses and researchers been reacting to your open access policy?

KR & DH: As mentioned in the FWF compliance report for 2015, 83% of all FWF publications were made openly available. The figure for Open Access in 2016 was even higher, while reaching 92%, according to the FWF’s 2016 compliance report to be published soon. In other words, a growing number of researchers have complied with the FWF’s Open Access mandate. This demonstrates the strong development of the Open Access adoption trend in recent years.

This interview with Katharina Rieck and Doris Haslinger was conducted by Pablo Markin.

Katharina Rieck is responsible for the Open-Access and Peer-Reviewed Publications programme at the FWF. Doris Haslinger is in charge of the organization’s Stand-Alone Publications programme.

Featured Image Credits: Entry area of the Library & Learning Center of the Vienna University of Economics and Business, Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, April 19, 2017  | © Thomas Fabian.

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