Open Access

Academic publishing started as a way to get individual research known to the whole scientific community and as a way to claim who first made the discovery. At the time, public recognition was more important than money. Soon enough, though, the money issue became much more important and academic publishing became a business, a very lucrative business. It was not long until publishers set subscription schemes: access to each article was only possible if a fee would be paid.

Time passed by and the situation changed. Now, research is much more collaborative and much less individualist. Due to globalisation, research teams are getting more and more international with team members coming from all over the world. Besides, with the Internet advent, information is currently more accessible, easier to make available, and possible to be distributed instantly worldwide. This means, for example, that someone in Australia can have access to a crucial article for their research that was published in USA five seconds before.

So, subscription schemes of academic journals are being contested. The main argument is that the speed and internalisation of research is not compatible with the constant payment of each single necessary article. Besides, and especially regarding EU projects, it does not make sense that publicly funded research would have restricted access – it should be made available to everyone free of charge.

According to the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation «Open access (OA) can be defined as the practice of providing on-line access to scientific information that is free of charge to the user and that is re-usable. A distinction is usually made between OA to scientific peer reviewed publications and research data». You can read the full report here 45762-200.

“Peer reviewed publications” mean articles that are published in academic journals with peer review. There are basically two models: the “green” is when the open access is delayed for an “embargo period”; the “golden” is when the open access is immediate. The idea is to make available the conclusions of each research so other researchers can pick them up and continue the work. Or complement their ongoing studies. However, if project results are to be exploited commercially, then they can be protected under Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) through patents and licences, for example. The European Commission (EC) has developed an open access peer review publishing platform, free of charges, for Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe projects: the Open Research Europe 45762-200.

“Research data” is about the data that is/was used during the project. The idea is to make available the data so they can be used in other studies. In line with their open access policy, the EC has determined that EU projects must follow the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) principles 45762-200. It has also funded the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) 45762-200, which is a long-term EU project that aims to build an environment on the cloud where researchers can deposit and make available their data for other researchers find and use them.

Open Access policies are extended to other domains. For example, materials resulted from EU projects in the education field (Erasmus+ programme) have to be Open Educational Resources (OER) 45762-200.

For more detailed information:

  • Open Access | European Commission website 45762-200
  • Article: “The FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific data management and stewardship”, by Mark D. Wilkinson et al. 45762-200
  • European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) 45762-200
  • Open Science | European Commission website 45762-200
  • Open Science | OECD website 45762-200
  • Open Educational Resources (OER) | UNESCO website 45762-200

    ‘Do No Significant Harm’ | 16.02.2022

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