Report 14/10/2013 EWI Focus group on Open Access

EWI Focus group on Open Access


[reporting by Gwen Franck]

Today, the Flemish Government department EWI organized a Focus meeting about Open Access. The meeting was intended as a follow up of last year’s Open Access meeting, where the Brussels Declaration on Open Access was presented. Bringing together all stakeholders one year late, aim of this meeting was to bring together all stakeholders again and defining (future) Open Access policies in Flanders.

Introduction by Dirk Van Melkebeke

Dirk Van Melkebeke, Secretary general EWI, welcomes the audience, referring to 2012 Brussels Declaration on Open Access -signed by minister Ingrid Lieten (EWI). This year’s meeting is supposed to be a follow up of what was pointed to in that document. The Flemish government stresses their commitment to provide open access to government-funded research. This is not only beneficial for society and the research community – OA can help to ensure Flanders’ place in the 10 top research regions in Europe, but it’s also beneficial for companies and SMO’s – making OA an important asset in the ViA programme Vlaanderen in Actie)

Daniel Spichtinger (DG RTD) @danielsp

Daniel Spichtinger, one of the Open Access Policy officers at DG RTD, gave an overview of EC activites in the last two years. After an overview of the well-known existing policies, he gave an update of the expected open access policy changes in Horizon 2020 (to be approved in the final vote about Horizon 2020 end of October). In short: Open Access will be the default of all European funded research (instead of the pilot in FP7). Open Access costs will also be considered as ‘eligible’, which means that they are refundable in the project budget. There will also be a pilot to enable open access to research data.

It is clear that Open Access will be a big focus in the European Research Area (ERA) in the next couple of years. Two EC Commissioners (Neelie Kroes and Maíre Geogeghan-Quinn) are committed to ‘ride the wave’ and  to encourage optimal visibility and reusability of European funded research. Next to the Commission, Spichtinger also identified the two other main actors in this: the member states – encouraged to identify National Points of Reference (NPR) and to actively report on Open Access progress, and various stakeholder organizations – most of them already being very active in various consultation rounds about Open research.

Recent studies show that acceptance and endorsement of Open Access policies has never been higher, with the total level of research publications available in Open Access in a lot of countries and research areas even reaching the ‘tipping point’ of 50 % !

Marc Dupuis (SURF) @MarcDupuis

Marc Dupuis gave an overview of Open Access in the Netherlands and the role SURF plays in all of this. SURF is a membership-based organization, helping its members with ICT solutions. The main goal of SURF is to enable seamless collaboration between systems and people.

Inge Van Nieuwerburgh (UGent, Open Access Belgium) @ivnieuwe

Inge Van Nieuwerburgh talked about the importance of repositories. She talked about recent commotion about quality of Open Access publication – a faulty connection between OA and quality is still being made quite often. There was also again a competition between Green and Gold OA. Shows again how important awareness and information still is.

Why do we still need repositories (Green OA)?

Role of repositories is not only dissemination, but also a big role in metrics and reporting, providing publication lists and enrich aggregating portals (such as OpenAIRE).

Main assets of repositories: quality control, interoperability, linking, transparent workflow – providing services. The biggest challenges repositories face are on definitions, linking data, author IDs  (solution: ORCID ? ), …

Johanna Kuhn (BioMedCentral)

Johanna Kuhn from prominent Open Access publisher BioMedCentral  (part of Springer since 2009) talks about recent revolutions in Open Access publishing. For BioMedCentral Open Access publishing means a different business model, but with the same quality and standards. Some BioMedCentral journals experiment do experiment with different kinds of peer review, such as ‘open peer review’.

What does OA mean for Springer?

  • self-archiving (Green OA) is only possible after an embargo of 6 or 12 months
  • all traditional Springer Journals offer hybrid OA for a 2000 dollar fee
  • of course, BioMedCentral is an important part of OA policy at Springer, together with Springer Open and Chemistry Central

The Springer perspective about Open Access in Belgium: graph about Belgian Manuscripts in SpringerOpen / BMC: steep rise in 2012 and 2013! BMC Public Health and Critical Care are the most popular journals with Belgian researchers.

Marc Vanholsbeeck (FWB) @MVanholsbeeck

Marc Vanholsbeeck talks about the impact of OA on the ‘quality’ of OA publications. Marc emphasizes the importance of repositories for the dissemination of ‘grey’ literature. This is an opportunity to reach towards non-scientists, for example with government publications! In the francophone community, open access publishing can help researchers to share their ‘peripheric’ publications in french (in some research areas still an important factor, e.g. in humanities). Vanholsbeeck stresses that ‘information’ does not necessarily equal ‘communication’!

Vanholsbeeck points to the successful ID/OA mandate of the Université de Liège, and emphasizes that the evaluation and assesment of researchers depends on the deposition of their publications in the Institutional Repository ORbi. The majority of the Féderation Wallonie-Bruxelles universities and the FRS-FNRS (funding agency) is/will be following this model.

Geert Van Grootel (EWI)

Geert Van Grootel talks about Research Information Linked Open Data (RILOD).

Break-out session 2 ‘Open Access Publishing: policy perspectives?’

Curated by Marc Vanholsbeeck, presentations by Johanna Kuhn (BioMedCentral) and Federica Rosetta (Elsevier)

Talk by Federica Rosetta about Elsevier’s Open Access policies.

For Elsevier, ‘Open Access’ needs to be ‘Sustainable Access’. High rise of Open Access Journals published by Elsevier in the last year. Elsevier tries to maintain quality standards. Majority of Open Access is provided through so-called ‘Open Access option’ (hybrid). Optimisation of discoverability of OA content through ScienceDirect.
Rosetta defends hybrid policy: Elsevier does not do double dipping: subscription charges do not take into account the open access articles.

I asked Rosetta if imposing embargoes and special permissions when it comes to funder mandates is really ‘enabling green open access’, as is mentioned on the slide. Rosetta stresses that embargo periods are necessary to keep Open Access sustainable for Elsevier. Not allowing researchers to self-archive (unless there is an agreement with the institution), is necessary to keep the difference between voluntary deposit and mass aggregation through repositories. Researchers are expected to put publishers’ possibilities above funders’ policies …

Daniel Spichtinger (DG RTD) : we don’t prefer Gold or Green, but in preparation for Horizon 2020 it was very unclear about how APCs are calculated. Rosetta: it is market-based – different considerations need to be taken into account. Transparency is why we show how we don’t do double dipping. Variety in APCs depends on quality, reputation, funding situation, …

Elsevier is at this moment not experimenting ( like PeerJ) with other models of funding Gold OA.

(Johanna Kuhn joins the stage)

Marc Vanholsbeeck: how about interdisciplinarity? Do Elsevier and BioMedCentral try to create links between different disciplines and research areals. Rosetta: ‘the article of the future’ is article with interactive options, embedded apps, underlying research data, integration with other media. Kuhn: BioMedCentral experiments with different versions of the article (different stages of peer review, underlying data, even collaboration with other publishers for other versions and follow up publications).

What would be publishers’ ideal scenario within 5 years?

Rosetta: OA will become bigger in the next year (as are, by the way, subscriptions!)

Kuhn: publishers go into new areas, more journals available in more research areas. Gold OA should be supported by institutions and funders.


Still a lot of experimenting with sustainable models, need for attention to other models (even the ones omitting APCs). Needed is more transparency of publishing costs (what are we paying for?). Another issue is embargoes: Green policies often include embargoes – discrepantion between e.g. 6-12 months embargoes imposed by funders and 12-24 months asked for by Elsevier. Point of attention is also coverage of publication fees by research funders (such as European Commission). Big question: how to include Green Open Access in a sustainable business?

Breakout session 1: “Open Access to research information: Beyond the repositories”

Inge Van Nieuwerburgh: define boundaries of repositories (research output) and research information systems (research information: project, funding, authors, …). Issues are data mining and transfer from print environment to digital environment. Integration also makes creation of enhanced publications easier. Opening up logs is necessary for metrics, enriching tools and data management. High expectations of FRIS.

Interoperability is key!

Closing by Jan Adriaenssens, Deputy Chief of staff for Science and Information (representing Minister Ingrid Lieten) @verbeeld

Society benefits the most when Science is Open. Not only as a principle, but also as ‘the most rational thing to do’

Minister Ingrid Lieten considers Brussels Declaration as a commitment to Open Science:

  •  FWO: all beneficiaries are required to provide Open Access no later than 1 year after publication
  • Informing the public about Open Access
  • Discuss open access costs and consider proposals
  • Commitment to Open Data
  • Flemish Doctoral Schools: organize joint trainings about Open Science
  • Government and funding organizations should ‘internalize’ Open Science (e.g. through FRIS)

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