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Open-access policies FEATURE


research institutions to facilitate all OA to publications resulting from all government science and technology plans or generated from publicly funded projects.’ Meanwhile, Mexico’s president Enrique Peña Nieto explained his country’s approach: ‘In order to reaffirm my conviction of the need to insert Mexico into the information and knowledge society.


‘I signed amendments to the Science and


Technology Act, the General Education Act, and the Organic Law of the National Council for Science and Technology. This legislation will provide Mexicans with free access to scientific and academic production, which has been partially or fully financed by public funds.’ [3] To assist this goal, Mexico is setting up its National Repository of Open Access to Quality Scientific, Technological and


Innovative Information Resources of Social and


Cultural Interest. So what drives


funders and governments to make such announcements and what does it mean for their researchers? We put these questions to two funders that have had policies in place for a few years, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) and the Wellcome Trust in the UK.


Johannes Fournier is programme director in the group ‘Scientific Library Services and Information Systems’ at the DFG and in charge of the ‘Knowledge Exchange’ (Open Access; Repositories) programme


O


pening up the access to research literature helps to widen the already existing knowledge base efficiently, and has the potential to increase the quality of research. The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) understood its


signature under the “Berlin


Declaration on Open Access to the Sciences and the Humanities” (2003) as a self-obligation to explore what the organisation should do to help its grantees in providing OA to their research results. In 2004/2005, we surveyed the publishing habits of researchers with regard to OA.[4]


we are still talking about a relatively low average percentage – rises constantly. Looking at surveys and studies, it seems that OA comes more naturally than in previous years. It has certainly helped that many OA journals gained prestige, that deposition in OA repositories can be smooth, and that funders and research institutions offer support for covering article processing charges.


Since it turned out that the majority of respondents was clearly in favour of OA, the DFG’s Joint Committee – that is the DFG’s main decision-making body – voted for an OA policy. The DFG is an organisation self-governed by researchers. Our approach is characterised by encouraging OA, by offering support for providing OA via the green or the gold route, or by assisting with the development of the related information infrastructure. The DFG’s OA policy and its targeted funding programmes are meant to help communities that want and need OA because the open sharing of publications fulfils an important function in their research. There is mainly anecdotal evidence that researchers are well aware of the DFG’s position and OA policy. Our policy is not mandatory; there is no strict obligation to publish in OA journals or deposit in OA repositories. The DFG’s approach is rather to offer assistance if a researcher wants to provide OA to the results from a DFG-funded project. The research community’s awareness for OA has increased as well as the understanding of the many often complicated – financial, technical, organisational, legal – issues. The statistics from our funding programme ‘Open Access Publishing’[5]


also indicate that the number of articles published in OA journals – although


www.researchinformation.info @researchinfo


In addition, the notion of re-use and re- usability gets more and more important. Many in the research community are well aware that OA is not only about providing access, but also about removing the legal or technical barriers


‘Implementing OA is a matter of transition – of cultural, financial, organisational transition’


that may prevent a productive uptake of research results. And there is of course the discussion on open data which is related to OA, even if the management and re-use of research data leads to a whole range of further issues.


Implementing OA is a matter of transition – of cultural, financial, organisational transition to name but a few. The biggest challenge is to find mechanisms that would enable the research community to invest the money that is already spent to provide and disseminate publications to open up the access to those results in future. To transition already existing subscription journals into OA journals is one of the challenges that we face here. Such transition seems worthwhile not only with regard to financial aspects, but also with regard to the perceived quality and impact of already existing journals.


Another challenge is to define very clearly


the kind of services provided by a publisher in the gold road, for example to ask for a specific licence that permits re-use, to agree on metadata formats, or to specify how articles are automatically deposited in the repository of an institution that covers the article processing charges. This brings me also to the notion of standards that need to be developed and agreed upon in order to minimise transaction costs when dealing with article processing charges, and initiatives like ‘ESAC – Efficiency and Standards for Article Charges’[6] solutions here.


begin to explore


Implementing OA is not just about the digital format or about green and gold, but about a whole infrastructure and related services that need to be sustained. Knowledge Exchange, a network where the DFG is one of the five partners, is looking into this area as well.[7] It helps to understand a policy less as a political statement and more as a document that explains to a researcher what kind of support is granted to help him or her in providing OA. The OA policies of many German universities are good examples for that since they very clearly describe these mechanisms – typically ranging from having a dedicated contact person for OA to assisting with deposit in repositories or covering article charges to hosting OA journals for university-based editors.


There is another benefit of having a policy. Many bodies will discuss the policy before it is finally agreed and published, and these discussions are important for a proper understanding of a community’s needs, concerns, and issues. There are not only diverse approaches around the world; there are also diverse approaches across various disciplines and research fields. This


diversity simply reflects the different


needs, the different possibilities and the various circumstances. Any implementation


AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2014 Research Information 7


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