Research funders worldwide commit to open-access push

By Penny Sarchet
Research Europe

Leaders of the some of the world’s most prominent research funding organisations have agreed to promote open access more actively, as they prepare to publish a report on the issue.

Members of the Global Research Council discussed and endorsed the report during a meeting held in Beijing from 26 to 28 May. A copy seen by Research Europe highlights concerns with the green and gold models of open access, and about balancing publication charges against licence fees.

The council, which represents science and engineering funding agencies around the world, says that the green and gold approaches are both likely to be used for some time, and has agreed to establish a working group on open-access progress. The report suggests that the council could develop sets of best-practice guidelines on open-access models, to improve international coherence.

According to data gathered for the report, 62 per cent of funders have a definition of what is meant by open access, and 60 per cent have formal policies in place. “The report shows that there are fewer differences than you would expect in the level of open access, the acceptance and the awareness of it,” says Stephan Kuster, head of policy affairs at Science Europe, an association of funding organisations.

The survey is, however, skewed in its geographical reach. Of the 106 funders that were approached, only 64 replied, 30 of which were European. The Asia-Pacific region returned 13 responses, and Africa, the Americas, and the Middle East and north Africa returned only eight, seven and six responses respectively.

Ultimately, the ability of the GRC to push open access will hinge on whether the council can extend its influence beyond research funders. Curt Rice, head of the board of the Current Research Information System in Norway, believes that last week’s agreement is an important step towards this. “This is the kind of thing that can increase pressure on publishers to get on board.”

But he warns that the lure of the reputation offered by traditional journals remains an impediment. “The wonderful thing would be if those journals themselves changed to an open-access model, but I don’t see that happening any time soon,” he says.

This article also appeared in Research Europe

This article was published in Research Professional, the UK’s leading independent source of news, analysis, funding opportunities and jobs for the academic research community.

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