Aligning Europe's Approaches To Open Access

Mafalda Picarra | Research Information | January 8, 2015

While successive UK government and research funders’ policy announcements have kept open access (OA) high on the agenda for the UK’s researchers and universities, is it a similar priority for their European counterparts?

This is no idle question; as more of the UK’s researchers collaborate on multinational, interdisciplinary European Union (EU)-funded research projects, they can’t simply assume that the same rules on OA apply across the board, and that the way they work in the UK will make them compliant with policy made elsewhere.  Certainly, OA is a very hot topic across the EU. In part, this is in response to policy announcements in 2o13 from the European Commission (EC) mandating that outputs from research funded under Horizon 2020 – the EU framework for research and innovation – must be made open access.

Regardless of where they are based, researchers and their universities are anxious both to comply with funder policies and to optimise the impact of their OA outputs; greater consensus on OA across the EU would make it much easier for them to do both. There would be far less chance of them getting it wrong simply because they misunderstood their obligations.

For its part, the EU has recommended strongly that member states should develop their own national policies on OA, promote dialogue between stakeholders and work to ensure a consistent approach (its Open Access in H2020 factsheet offers some useful information on the EU position). And in an effort to achieve that consensus, the multi-stakeholder, pan-European PASTEUR4OA project is developing a coordinated approach across the member states to OA strategy and policy. It is bringing together stakeholders in 33 European nations to build and share expertise and support the alignment of national, funder and institutional policies with European ones. Compliance with funder requirements should then become simpler, OA outputs should be easier for the academic community to find, search and share, and researchers should be able to collaborate more freely across the EU...