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Commission joins calls to open Covid-19 research

Publishers asked to make pandemic research openly available

The European Commission has joined senior science advisers from 15 countries around the world in calling for academic publishers to make all articles and data related to Covid-19 immediately available to everyone, to support efforts to tackle the pandemic.

“I welcome this important international initiative that underlines the vital need of working together and providing researchers in Europe and around the world access to the research and data they need,” EU R&D commissioner Mariya Gabriel said on 31 March. “Let’s help researchers help us!” she tweeted.

The push follows an earlier open letter sent by the science advisers on 13 March. Since then, 37 publishers have agreed to lift paywalls on Covid-relevant research. In a follow-up letter, the petitioners thanked those publishers for their quick actions.

“We extend our sincere gratitude to the scholarly publishing community for quickly answering our call to voluntarily make all Covid-19-related publications and data immediately accessible, in a public repository and in machine-readable format, to allow full text and data mining with rights for reuse”, the second letter said.

“This move reinforces the global, all hands-on-deck effort that is required to address the present health crisis.”

The petitioners want all articles published to date as well as future articles to be made available for the duration of the crisis. The Commission said the push was “fully in line” with the EU’s support for the Plan S open-access initiative.

On the same day, the Commission announced it was allocating an extra €1 million of EU funding to another Covid-19 R&D project via a call opened in January, taking the total allocation to €48.5m for 18 projects. The additional project, coordinated by an Irish company called Hibergene Diagnostics, is aiming to develop and validate a rapid diagnostic test for Covid-19.