A noteworthy article: The European Commission’s Open Access Pilot for Research Articles: Frequently Asked Questions, eGov Monitor, August 20, 2008. Excerpts:
What is open access?
Under open access policies, authors published in research publications grant free Internet access to their scientific contributions, as well as the possibility to use them, subject to proper attribution of authorship. Under open access, a complete version of the work and supplemental materials should be deposited in at least one online repository.
In the pilot launched today, open access means free of charge access for anyone over the internet to research articles resulting from EU funded research.
Open access to what?
The Commission’s open access pilot targets peer reviewed scientific journal articles that result from EU funded research.
However, the concept of open access can also apply to research data, images, etc.
Which parts of FP7 will be covered by the open access pilot?
The pilot covers approximately 20% of the FP7 budget and will apply to specific areas of research under the 7th Research Framework Programme (FP7):
* Information and Communication Technologies (Cognitive Systems, Interaction, Robotics)
* Research Infrastructures (e-Infrastructures);
* Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities;
* Science in Society
These research areas have a potentially high societal impact and political relevance: they can help Europe face global challenges like climate change and the management of natural resources. They also make it possible to test open access for a variety of different disciplines, including a range of natural sciences, social sciences and humanities, as well as both basic and applied research.
How will the open access pilot be implemented?
New grant agreements in the areas covered by the pilot will contain a clause requiring grant recipients to deposit peer reviewed research articles or final manuscripts resulting from their FP7 projects into their institutional or if unavailable a subject-based repository. They will have to make their best efforts to ensure open access to these articles within six or twelve months after publication, depending on the research area. This embargo period will allow scientific publishers to get a return on their investment.
Why are embargo periods running from 6 to 12 months instead of a single embargo period?
Scientific publishers draw attention to the fact that when considering open access policies, funding bodies should be aware that “one size does not fit all”. The length of time during which research results are novel and useful varies according to discipline. The results of research in rapidly changing disciplines in fields like energy, environment, health and ICT tend to become obsolete relatively quickly. The results of research in social science and the humanities, on the other hand, usually remain relevant for longer.
Other funding bodies have introduced embargo periods within this range. For example, the Wellcome Trust (UK) has set an embargo period of 6 months, the National Institutes of Health (USA) 12 months at the latest and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research 6 months.
As this is a pilot initiative, the different embargo periods allow the Commission to experiment and assess the impact of such embargo periods.
Comment: Yet another interesting OA experiment. The main novelty is the variable embargo periods that will be permitted during the pilot phase.