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Half of European countries have no open access policy

About half of European countries have no specific policies to promote open access to research articles and data.

A European Commission study called “National open access and preservation policies in Europe” found that only 13 out of 26 respondents answered the question whether their country had a national or regional policy for open access positively. Three respondents chose not to answer this question at all.

However, there has been an improvement in this area in most European countries since 2009, says the study, which was released this week.

“National initiatives and practices are still fragmented, thus preventing the European Union from realising its full research and innovation potential,” said research commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.

For instance, Sweden has a national open access programme managed by the National Library’s Department for National Cooperation, while other countries only have policies developed by individual institutions, such as universities or funding bodies.

The study says that the debate on open access still focuses on scientific journals, but that research data (such as numerical data, videos, or graphs) are becoming more and more important. The respondents said the Commission should play a “leading part” to promote the access to, and preservation of scientific information. For example, the Commission could be involved in regulating copyright and licensing at the EU level.

Geoghegan-Quinn said: “I am determined to give [European researchers] the conditions they deserve. Open access is one of these conditions.”

The study’s questionnaire was sent to members of the European Research Area Committee. The report compiles answers from 25 EU member states plus Iceland, Montenegro, Norway and Switzerland.

Open access refers to the free-of-charge access to research articles or data over the internet.