Re: European Commission Conference: Scientific Publishing in the European Research Area - Brussels, 15-16 February 2007

From: Armbruster, Chris <Chris.Armbruster_at_EUI.EU>
Date: Thu, 14 Dec 2006 10:47:15 +0100


The programme of the European Commission Conference: Scientific Publishing in the European Research Area - Brussels, 15-16 February 2007 includes speakers from the publishing industry such as Reed Elsevier and Springer, but it is clear that the proponents of Open Access are having their day in Brussels (on top of this - from Springer it is Jan Velterop). This vindicates those that read the outcome of the earlier study as an unequivocal support of OA, at least among the authors of the study and - presumably - among those in DG Research that commissioned the study.

Yet, it is far from certain that the conference will become a milestone on the way to OA. For the OA movement may be heading into a dead end. It is worrying to see the widespread incapacity to understand the importance of unblocking innovative capacities in scientific publishing, scholarly communication and access to data.

And here is the problem with the prior study of scientific publishing in Europe, with the so-called green road to access and with the new approach of Science Commons. The study by Dewatripont et al failed to address the issue of copyright and thus missed the importance of shifting the dissemination of research articles AND data from an IPR to nonexclusive licensing. Many proponents of green OA seem to brazenly assume that they can go on self-archiving post-prints without paying attention to copyright - At some point in the future (when OA pressure has abated somewhat) publishers will ask their authors to remove all openly accessible copies of the research article, word-wide, from all servers. Publishers are not to be blamed - for as long as their business model of regarding research articles and data as 'property' is accepted by researchers, universities and research funders. Shareholders have every right to insist that publishers maximise profits from the property that they have acquired.

That Science Commons should now also be advocating self-archiving is unbelievable. It is no comfort that SC provides ^—author addenda^“ for copyright transfer contracts by which the author retains the right to self-archive. This is nonsense because it effectively legitimates the mistaken idea that the future of scientific publishing and data management should continue to be one in which the publishing house will own the IPR to the article.

The green road to OA and the Science Commons ^—author addenda^“ are not in the best interest of researchers and universities. They are certainly detrimental to the interest of higher education institutions and their students. And they are ruinous to the economic future of Europe. Here is why: Given the expansion of research, the rise of the internet, the acceleration of innovation and the increasing importance of knowledge-based industry and services it is imperative that access to scientific knowledge (in the form of research articles and data that have been publicly funded and/or have been produced not-for-profit) be unrestricted and seamless. This would not only increase the quality of research (ease of peer review, availability of results, transparency of knowledge claims), it would also unblock the market for the creative emergence of new services to readers and authors. Given the large number of knowledge claims, the enormous amount of publications in circulation and the requirement to handle ever more
 complex data, we urgently need services that help readers (be they researchers, students or companies) organize their activities more effectively and efficiently.

The challenge to the European Commission is not to take sides for or against OA. It is to understand what legal, economic and technical regime would be best for the quality of research in the ERA, for the quality of higher education in the EHEA and for the economic prosperity of Europe as a whole.
Chris Armbruster

Cyberscience and the knowledge-based economy, open access and trade publishing: From contradiction to compatibility with nonexclusive copyright licensing

Open access in social and cultural science - Innovative moves to enhance access, inclusion and impact in scholarly communication

Five reasons to promote open access and five roads to accomplish it in social and cultural science
Available at

Executive Director
Research Network 1989

Past Fellow of the Fondazione Antonio Ruberti and EIROforum
(EIROforum is: European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN); European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA); European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL); European Space Agency (ESA); European Southern Observatory (ESO); European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF); Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL))

Past Jean Monnet Fellow at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute, Florence
Received on Thu Dec 14 2006 - 11:35:56 GMT

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