Scientific Publishing – Open Access workgroup: 2006 overview

July 2006 – Open Access for European Science

On 16th July 2006 a session on achieving Open Access by self-archiving was held at the EuroScience Open Forum in Munich. Helene Bosc (INRA, Tours, France), as convenor, introduced the topic and the speakers. Stevan Harnad (University of Southampton, England) moderated the session and gave an overview of the issues in an introductory presentation. Eloy Rodrigues (University of Minho, Portugal), speaking from the perspective of the successfully established repository in his own university, described how the repository has developed and focused especially on how researchers can be motivated to deposit their articles. Eberhard R. Hilf (University of Oldenburg, Germany) spoke from another perspective – that of how content in distributed repositories can be collected together – and described developments in Germany, particularly the physics open access service Physdoc which operates across a large number of repositories of physics content. Alma Swan (Key Perspectives, Truro, England) drew these perspectives together and spoke about how Open Access can be achieved in institutions and what it means for the progress of scientific research. Eberhard R. Hilf has collated the presentations and produced an excellent summary of the event which can be found at:

Workgroup activities report January-June 2006

A report on the group activities to January 2006 was presented in Euroscience News 34. The work has continued on the same lines, with preparation for ESOF 2006 and a study, through the group’s discussion list, of issues in publishing and, for French members, continued action towards members of French Parliament to improve the copyright law draft.

1) The programme for the ESOF symposium “Open Access –threat or blessing?” is now finalised as a round table discussion, on Sunday 16th July, centred on Open Archives and moderated by Stevan Harnad (University of Southampton and Université du Québec de Montréal). Panellists are : Eloy Rodriguez: (University of Minho, Portugal), Alma Swan (Key Perspectives Ltd, United Kingdom) and Eberhard Hilf (Institute for Science Networking Oldenburg, Germany). The programme is aimed at active researchers, to make them aware of the benefits to be gained from self archiving their articles on dedicated public servers (Open Archives). An overview was presented by Stevan Harnad in ES News 34. The detailed programme can be accessed on the ESOF 2006 web site.

2) In March 2006, the European Commission published a Study on “The Economic and Technical Evolution of the Scientific Publication Markets in Europe

The EC solicited comments on its recommendations. Our work group focussed on EC recommendation A1: “Guarantee public access to publicly-funded research results shortly after publication”, focussed on Open Archives.

Through exchanges within the discussion list, several specific suggestions were drafted for sharpening and strengthening recommendation A1 so as to maximise its likelihood of being adopted and achieving its objectives. Our report received the support of Euroscience president Patrick Connerade and was submitted to the EC on behalf of Euroscience.

3) In France, the subject of intellectual property and copyright was in the forefront of news because of the debates in the National Assembly (December 2005 through March 2006) and in the Senate (May-June 2006) of a new law, as reported in ES News 34. The text voted by the National Assembly refused the “education and research exceptions” to allow copying (downloading or photocopy), even though they were included in the 2001 EU directive which the new law should transpose in national laws. We continued our action towards legislators, in concert with other organisations (Associations of Librarians, Conference of University Presidents) to have these exceptions written in the law. P. Baruch, F. Laloë and F. Praderie met Senator J.Valade, Chairman of the Senate Commission for Cultural Affairs, and presented to him the specific needs of the research community. The meeting was fruitful: our arguments for allowing these exceptions for scientific purposes were well received. Senator Valade, a chemist and former Minister of research knew already of this issue and assured us that he would support the scientists’ views. Indeed, an amendment in this direction, although somewhat restrictive, was voted by the Senate. A joint commission met to reduce discrepancies between the two assemblies and accepted the exceptions (June 2006). The amended text was voted by the Assembly on June 30.

The discussions, both in the Parliament and in the media, were dominated by the problems relevant to reproduction of audiovisual (mostly musical) works ; other issues, such as education, research, open-source software were not in the forefront. The new law is much too restrictive in many fields, contains obscure details and does not fully come up to expectations. Nevertheless, many potential pitfalls were avoided.

Apparently, no other organisation led the fight to defend the interests of science in these debates. We feel that Euroscience played here its statutory role of representing the “Voice of Science in Europe”.

Hélène Bosc (Convenor of the workgroup),
Pierre Baruch

January 2006: A first concrete realization of the workgroup

The symposium prepared by our workgroup has been accepted at ESOF2006, and we are proud to announce it:

Open Access – threat or blessing?
Is self archiving beneficial for researchers and compatible with conventional publishing?

How to combine the benefits of the traditional publishing system with the ease, rapidity of access and relatively low cost of on-line access-provision?
In addition to traditional (paper) and on-line publication, a new means of providing free access for all is author self-archiving of published journal articles on the Web. In signing the Berlin Declaration (2003), a large number of scientific institutions have encouraged their researchers to provide Open Access (OA) to their research output. A specific, concrete recommendation at “Berlin 3” (Southampton, Feb. 2005) has now made it quite explicit how to put the Berlin principle into practice: by having all institutional researchers self-archive their own articles in their own institutional repositories. A key author/institution motivation is the growing body of evidence (1) that OA increases citation impact. Recent surveys (2) have shown that the majority of researchers worldwide are still unaware of the possibility and benefits of OA self-archiving but are willing to comply if prompted by their institutions. The proposed session will be aimed at designing ways to raise researchers’ awareness of the reasons for and practical ways of providing OA by Self Archiving.

The session will be organized as a round table discussion, chaired by Stevan Harnad (Southampton and Montreal), with presentations of the archive policy of some scientific institutions, of its perception by researchers as users, and of some recent findings on usage and impact.

The participants are: Eloy Rodrigues (University of Minho, Portugal), Alma Swan (Key Perspectives Ltd, United Kingdom), Eberhard Hilf (Institute for Science Networking Oldenburg, Germany).

The symposium is organised by Hélène Bosc (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), Nouzilly, France) and Pierre Baruch.

(1) S. Hitchkock . The effect of open access and downloads (‘hits’) on citation impact: a bibliography of studies

(2) SWAN A., BROWN S.N., JISC/OSI Journal Authors Survey Report. (2004)
SWAN A. Survey 2005

Publication in Le Monde (French)

Point de vue: La science, c’est aussi de la culture
Le Monde, 12 January 2006