Open access in 2020

Research financiers from eleven different European countries want to make scientific research available to the public for free. Open access should become the norm starting in 2020.
By Christien Boomsma / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen

The huge fees that publishers like Elsevier, Springer, Wiley, and Sage currently charge people to read their magazine should be abolished. Universities are charged forty million every year to have access to magazines their own scientists are published in.

These same scientists often serve as editors for these magazines, assessing the quality of the articles through peer review. And they do it all for free.

Neither the government nor universities feel this is fair. They have been trying to persuade publishers to change their revenue model. Research financier NWO is demanding that any research they have funded be freely accessible, whatever magazine it is published in.

Researchers are also able purchase online access to their own articles. Universities have also been trying to lower magazines subscription fees through Big Deals.

Revenue model

Unfortunately, publishers are unwilling to give up a revenue model that brings in millions of euros in profits each year. That’s why Jeroen Smits with the European Committee collected research financiers from France, Great Britain, Sweden, Norway, Austria, Ireland, Luxembourg, Poland, and the Netherlands to form cOAlition S, a collective that wants to pressure publishers to relinquish their paywalls.

The coalition will put up with publishers charging authors for access for the next two years, but they want this practice to end by 2021.

cOAlition S will also make sure that authors will always retain the right of publication. They demand that universities and financiers pay the publication costs. They also want open archives and databases available to store scientific data.

Change to publication culture

This also means that the publication culture will have to undergo a drastic change. Researchers are currently judged by the quantity of their publications and the standing of the magazines in which they publish.

‘The actual content of the magazines should be emphasised, rather than the number of publications or the magazines’ reputation’, NWO president Stan Gielen says.

University association VSNU is happy with the plans. ‘It’s a great boost to the current negotiations we’re in with publishers’, says chairman Pieter Duisenberg.

Want to know more? The cOAlition S statement can be found here.




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