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Open access rules leave room for improvement

Image: Oxyman [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Europe should enhance open access rules to take into account all academic subjects without imposing additional burdens on researchers, the federation of All European Academies has said.

In an 11 November statement, Allea, which represents science academies in Europe, says that it will be necessary to align national and European initiatives and that the problems associated with open access must be fully assessed by the European Commission.

Additionally, the Commission should fund the development of institutional repositories for universities and research institutes, and define standards for online repositories, possibly through a ranking system, the academies state.

“Allea hopes that moving to open access will help scientific institutions to save money, but it is important to realise that an open access model might impose new burdens on research and their employers,” the group states. It adds that extra tasks for researchers must be minimised.

The statement confirms Allea’s preference for the green open access model, where researchers archive their papers in an online repository, and that this also includes a short embargo period. Although Allea favours the green model for social sciences and humanities, it says this could also be used for small research projects in other disciplines.

The group’s statement also suggests an embargo period longer than six months for maths and physics. This is in contrast to the opinion of many funders that longer embargo periods be reserved for the social sciences and humanities.

Allea says that gold open access, which shifts the payment of publication costs from readers, via journal subscriptions, to institutions, “might present some advantages”, but only if the price is reasonable. This means that fees should cover only the costs resulting from publishing and publishers should be transparent about these costs.

The statement adds that Allea is opposed to a research assessment system that would only take gold publications into account.

The group also calls for a system for long-term preservation of publications and research data in addition to the short-term coverage provided by open access rules. This should be done through preservation of hardware and software to read the publications and data in the future as well as effective depositories.