EUA established an expert Working Group on Open Access in 2007 as the result of requests from its university membership that EUA should seek to act as an independent European Stakeholder for universities in the growing policy debate on Open Access scientific publishing. The expert Working Group built upon the important momentum given to the Open Access debate by the findings and recommendations of the “Study on the Economic and Technical Evolution of the Scientific Publications Markets in Europe” (European Commission, January 2006) and both the “ERC Scientific Council Statement on Open Access” and the EURAB Report on “Scientific Publication: Policy on Open Access” (both published December 2006).
The Working Group Terms of Reference were:
• to provide a European platform of expert opinion to provide visibility to universities as stakeholders in the policy debate
• to raise awareness of the importance of the open access issue to the wider university community, both in terms of its impact upon of the research process and the conduct of scientific research, and financial implications for university libraries, journal provision etc.
• to develop a common strategy for the university sector on key selected issues through the preparation of position papers, drawing upon and pooling viewpoints and statements issued by national expert groups
• to review the range of broad issues on open access publishing and digital depositories (inter alia, author support, peer review, legal aspects/IPR, authenticity and data integrity, indexing, up-dating and continuity), and to establish priorities for policy action advice from the university perspective
• to provide expert input from the “university stakeholder perspective” to European Conferences and policy forums on access, dissemination and preservation of scientific information, organised by the European Commission, OECD and other relevant agencies.
The Working Group membership reflected the full range of different university perspectives on the concept of “Open Access” from those of academic researchers, librarians and university management. In the course of its three meetings in 2007, the Working Group had gathered expert opinion on open access publishing business models, legal and copyright issues, technical development of national digital repositories and their European networking, and the policies being developed towards open access publishing by funding agencies at the national level and the European Commission.
The Working Group gave great consideration to the scope of the recommendations that it should put forward to raise awareness of the importance of this issue amongst university leadership – from across a wide spectrum of issues including the implications of open access publishing for peer review and quality assurance in academic research and career development, the rising costs of scientific publications for university libraries (high subscription levels to both electronic and printed journals, including “bundling” marketing strategies by publishers etc.) and the general challenge of widening public access to the results of research.
In making its recommendations the Working Group agreed that quality assurance should be the primary concern for universities as the pace of digital technology development accelerates the move towards open access publishing. Key concerns were: how will quality assurance systems be transformed by open access publishing and how will this impact upon research assessment? The Working Group’s recommendations therefore sought to build upon the policy framework being developed on the need for operational institutional repositories (preferably networked on the national and European level) in which peer-reviewed scientific research articles accepted for publication could be deposited with a limited embargo period (normally six months). It was felt generally that such focussed recommendations aimed to secure support for “safe” open access with quality assurance guarantees was the best way forward for EUA to raise awareness of the importance of the issue amongst university leadership.
The recommendations from the EUA Working Group on Open Access were adopted by the EUA Council on 26 March 2008 during the EUA Spring Conference held at the University of Barcelona, Spain.
The EUA aims to monitor the follow-up of its recommendations on the development of university institutional repositories.
Open Access Working Group Membership 2007-2008:
Sijbolt Noorda, (EUA Council member, NL)
Belgium (Fl): Inge Van Nieuwerburgh, Ghent University
Czech Republic: Jan Stanek, Vice-Rector - Inst. of Chem. Technology Prague
Denmark: Wilbert van der Meer, Special Adviser, Danish Rectors’ Conference
Finland: Kalle Korhonen, Member of Finnish Open Access WG
France: Geneviève Gourdet, COUPERIN
Germany: Gerhard Schneider, Vice-Rector -University Freiburg
Greece: Claudine Xenidou-Dervou, Coordinator, HEAL-Link/Site Librarian, Physics & Informatics Depts. Aristotle University
Italy: Paola Gargiulo, Consorzio per le Applicazioni di Supercalcolo per Università e Ricerca (CASPUR)
Netherlands: Nol Verhagen, University of Amsterdam
Norway: Rune Nilsen, Professor, University of Bergen
Portugal: Eloy Rodrigues, Head of Documentation Services, Minho University Institutional Repository
Spain: Lluis Anglada I Ferrer, Director of Consorci de Biblioteques Universitaries de Catalunya
Sweden: Lars Björnshauge, Director of Libraries/Chief Librarian, University of Lund
UK: Stephen Pinfield, Director of SHERPA, Deputy Chief Information Officer & Director of Research and Learning Resources, University of Nottingham
Françoise Vandooren, Université Library, Université Libre de Bruxelles
John Smith, Deputy Secretary General
Ilona Mazan, Executive Assistant, Research and Innovation Unit