EURAB report

On January 10, 2007, the European Research Advisory Board (EURAB) issued a press release, EURAB proposes making open access obligatory for FP7 research, about an EURAB report (EURAB 06.049, December 2006).

The report’s recommendations are available via: http://www.sflorg.com/comm_center/?p=362

The first sections of the recommendations:

The European Research Advisory Board (EURAB) has recommended that the European Commission should promote open access publication policies for all their publicly funded research. EURAB was invited by the Commission to examine the issue of scientific publication with particular reference to policy recommendations regarding open access for Framework Program 7 (FP7). It has recommended that ‘a clear policy at European level is required which sets out a number of key high level principles. The Commission can play a role in three respects: as a funding body, as a policy body, as a supporting body”.

As a funding body:
1. The publication policy should not compromise the freedom of scientists to publish wherever they feel is most appropriate.
2. The effect of the policy should be to increase the visibility of and improve access to the research funded by the Commission.
3. The policy should be based on recognized best practice,
4. EURAB recommends that the Commission should consider mandating all researchers funded under FP7 to lodge their publications resulting from EC-funded research in an open access repository as soon as possible after publication, to be made openly accessible within 6 months at the latest.
a. The repository may be a local institutional and/or a subject repository. b. Authors should deposit post-prints (or publisher’s version if permitted) plus metadata of articles accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals and international conference proceedings.
c. Deposit should be made upon acceptance by the journal / conference. Repositories should release the metadata immediately, with access restrictions to full text article to be applied as required. Open access should be made available as soon as practicable after the author-requested embargo, or six months, whichever comes first.
d. Suitable repositories should make provision for long-term preservation of, and free public access to, published research findings.
5. Given the complexity of the issues involved, the Commission should consider implementation of this policy on a phased basis, starting with research funded by the European Research Council
.”

The final report (14 pages) is available in PDF format.

An excerpt from page 10 of the report:

It is vital that any policy is clear and unambiguous and therefore it is much more straightforward for it to apply to research irrespective of whether it is wholly or only partially funded by FP7”.

The biggest impediment to uptake by researchers of OA is lack of awareness of what is involved in open access deposit: what, where and when to deposit.” … “Finally, the policy must not force scientists to publish in one journal rather than another. Thus not only should it be feasible for scientists to comply with the policy from an administrative point of view, it should also be feasible in the sense that it is consistent with the existing policies of all the major publishers.”

Peter Suber has commented on the press release and the report. See: EURAB recommends an EU-wide OA mandate:

Peter’s first two comments:

1. This is excellent news for many reasons. First, the policy would apply across Europe, not just within a single country or institution. Second, it encourages member states to adopt their own OA policies to buttress this EU-wide policy. Third, EURAB is an independent agency created by the EU to make recommendations on research-policy questions of exactly this kind. This report should carry weight.

2. Fourth, the policy it recommends is superb. It’s a mandate, not mere encouragement. It gives authors a choice of repositories for deposit. It caps the permissible embargo at six months. It recommends deposit of the published version, if possible, and the final version of the peer-reviewed manuscript otherwise. It uses what I call the dual deposit/release strategy or what Stevan Harnad calls the immediate deposit / optional access strategy (except that here, flipping the switch on the deposited article from closed to open is delayed but mandatory, not optional). There’s no hint of compromise based on misunderstandings about copyright

My own opinion is that this report does outline an exemplary policy framework. I think that the only missing aspect is the lack of a recommendation about how best to foster compliance with a mandate-oriented policy of this kind. In this regard, the Australian approach should be noted. See my comment about the Australian approach.

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1 Comment »

  1. tillje said

    It should be noted that, in EURAB’s Final Report (on pages 8 & 9), three “key drivers towards OA publications” are identified: These are:

    1. “Public funding bodies are currently effectively paying 3 times for research: firstly for the research itself to be conducted; secondly, for the peer review; and finally for the library subscription to the journal in which the paper is published. Page charges and the additional author-side fees levied by traditional toll-access journals may be considered a fourth charge for this research.

    2. “Ensuring widespread dissemination and maximizing the impact of research is critical to the European Research Area; and

    3. “Scientific publication affects the research system directly through its impact on research careers and on funding.

    The first “key driver” represents a version of the “accountability argument” (or “taxpayer argument”) that’s often put forward as a justification for the OA movement. The second represents a version of the “good public policy” argument. The third represents a version of the “impact argument”, but presented from the perspective of the “research system”, rather than from the perspective of individual researchers.

    A fourth justification is the “serials crisis argument”, an early (and continuing) rationale for support of the OA movement. “Libraries are increasingly unable to provide access to conventional journals because of the ever-rising cost of subscriptions, particularly for biomedical and health sciences journals“. See the article in the 11 October 2006 issue of the University of Toronto Bulletin, by Joan Leishman and myself.

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