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Berlin 3 meeting concludes with recommendation on paving the way to Open Access

Published: 
2 March 2005

This week's Berlin 3 Open Access Meeting (Progress in Implementing the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities), held at the University of Southampton, has exceeded expectations, according to Professor Stevan Harnad, with agreement from delegates on recommendations for a concrete practical policy that institutions can now adopt in order to implement the Berlin Declaration.

Until now, the Berlin Declaration was just an abstract expression of Principle. The institutions who signed declared that they 'supported' the idea of Open Access -- but without any concrete indication or commitment as to what they would or could do practically to *provide* Open Access.

"It was hoped that this week's meeting at the University of Southampton would formulate a practical policy that institutions (universities, research institutions, and research funders) could adopt to implement the Berlin Declaration. That policy turns out to be extremely simple," says Professor Harnad, of the School of Electronics and Computer Science at Southampton, "and almost exactly identical to the recommendation of the UK Select Committee -- which was rejected by the UK government."

The provisional recommendation agreed on is as follows:

In order to implement the Berlin Declaration institutions should
(1) Implement a policy to require their researchers to deposit a copy of all their published articles in an open access repository.

and

(2) Encourage their researchers to publish their research articles in open access journals where a suitable journal exists and provide the support to enable that to happen.

This means that institutions which commit themselves to implementing the Berlin Declaration will adopt it as a policy that all their researchers must place all their published research articles in their own institutional open access repository.

According to Professor Harnad, several institutions that have already adopted this policy have said that the way they implement it is that their researchers must deposit the metadata and the full text, otherwise they will be 'invisible' for research assessment. The institutional repository will be the data on which their performance assessment and the institution's own record-keeping of its own research output will be based.

Apart from requiring the above, the implementation policy encourages publishing in an Open Access Journal if a suitable one exists (and it also encourages helping to fund it). However, this is not, and cannot be, a requirement, as authors must be allowed to select their own journals, and only 5 per cent of journals are Open Access Journals, he added.

According to Professor Harnad, these recommendations are almost exactly what the UK Select Committee recommended: "It will be useful for historical purposes to compare it with the wording in the UK Committee's summary," he said.

"We now have a clear direction as to what should now be done to implement the Berlin Declaration, concretely and practically speaking," said Professor Harnad.

"It is very likely now to be adopted widely -- and has already been adopted de facto by a number of the participants in this meeting, including the huge national research network of France, the CNRS, its counterpart in Germany, the Max-Planck- Institute, the CERN mega-lab in Switzerland, all 12 major universities in the Netherlands, the University of Southampton in the UK (from whom the model for the policy first came, both here and for the Select Committee) and soon, we hope, the UK research councils (RCUK).

"This provides the world with an alternative to the recent US NIH-12 policy (which merely encourages NIH fundees to self-archive in NIH's central repository, Pub Med Central, within 12 months of publication -- instead of *requiring* them to self-archive *immediately* in their own institutional repository)," he continued.

"As a consequence, there should soon be a big increase in Open Access worldwide, and we look forward to it reaching 100 per cent before too much longer!"

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