Open access (OA) is certainly a topic high on the agenda of most UK researchers and universities, but is this level of interest also being seen across Europe?
In my opinion, yes!
This may be in part due to last year’s policy announcements by the European Commission which determined that outputs of research funded under Horizon 2020, European Research Council grants and Marie Skłodowska Curie programmes must be made open access. The policy is mandatory for peer-reviewed articles but it also encourages that other types of publications – monographs, conference proceedings and grey literature – are made available through OA.
Why does this matter?
Well, as more UK researchers collaborate in EU-funded projects, it’s imperative that they stay informed about EU open access developments and ensure compliance with EU policies.
Universities can’t just be looking to home shores and assuming that policies are the same for those whose research is being funded by Europe or don’t differ for anyone on a visiting fellowship. And in a research environment where open access is becoming a bigger part of day to day activities, this may present some challenges.
What are we doing to keep up with the challenges?
I’ve been working on PASTEUR4OA, a multi-stakeholder project that brings together 38 European countries in a nascent network to develop expertise on open access across Europe, promote and share best practices, and support policy alignment. The aim is to ensure that new policies are developed and align with European ones, and that institutions and researchers are compliant to them.
This alignment would not only encourage funding at a European level, but would also make the sharing of OA research easier, the outputs more searchable, and the movement of researchers across institutions smoother.
By the end of the project we would like to have developed solutions which help universities and researchers:
- Stay informed about the EU OA policy and understand the compliance requirements
- Keep up to date on better coordinated approaches to OA policy compliance and alignment across Europe
- Learn about the effectiveness and global growth of OA polices, which will then help inform UK universities' policies
- Make use of a schema under development that will make it easier for them to express funders’ and institutions’ OA policies, and whose use by others will make the policy landscape clearer for UK researchers
- Adapt their existing services to monitor policy compliance and facilitate data retrieval in an easy and systematic way
The UK has already seen how benefits can be drawn from this type of joined up approach. Knowledge Exchange, a partnership of organisations in five north European countries, has been highly influential in both open access and research data.
UK priorities in these areas are now regularly taken forward on an international stage due to the high level of cooperation this group allows. And, most importantly, this then places the needs of UK universities at the heart of European policy and programme development.
In December we will be hosting a workshop on OA policy alignment with representatives from 33 of the member countries.
It will allow us to:
- Share knowledge on OA policy development and implementation
- Discuss the feasibility and value of a developing network that will represent European expertise on OA
- Stimulate policy development and alignment in a number of countries
If you would like to keep up to date with our progress please sign up to our newsletter via the PASTEUR4OA website.