The Commission of the EC on regulation and self-regulation pro OA (fwd)

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 15 Feb 2007 16:35:15 +0000

---------- Forwarded message ---------- Date: Thu, 15 Feb 2007
08:27:32 -0500 From: "Armbruster, Chris" <> To:
SPARC Open Access Forum <> Subject: [SOAF] The
Commission of the EC on regulation and self-regulation

Commission of the European Communities (CEC)
Conference "Scientific Publishing in the European
Research Area Access, Dissemination and
Preservation in the Digital Age", Brussels, 15-16 February 2007

Communication from the CEC "On Scientific
Information in the Digital Age: Access,
Dissemination and Preservation" COM (2007) 56 (provisional)

The CEC expresses in the provisional
Communication its intention to support access to
community funded research results by
- Defining as eligible costs for open access
publishing in community research programmes;
- Allowing mandatory deposit policies with a
post-publication embargo period to be implemented
as advised by EURAB for FP7 and intended by the
ERC for future grants (announced in December 2006);
- Co-funding research infrastructure development
(^50m for digital repositories, ^25m for digital
preservation and collaborative tools, ^10m for
access and use of scientific information);
- Funding a study on the economic aspects of digital preservation;
- Funding research on publication business models
and on the scientific publication system.

>From the Opening Speech of the Commissioner
Janez Potocnik and the Communication it emerges
that the CEC embraces change and wishes to
enhance access to knowledge, but is equally
concerned about economic competitiveness and
innovation as well as digital preservation.
Concerns may be discerned with regard to the road
ahead, and these centre on how to ensure that a
'critical mass' of high quality scientific
information becomes available without undue
disruption of the system due to exorbitant
transitional costs or a gap in accessibility.

What this means is that while the CEC broadly
embraces the move towards open access to
scientific knowledge, it is cognisant of the fact
that in the EU 780 scientific publishers employ
36,000 persons and produce 49% of world output
(from the Communication). Consequently, it is
unlikely that there will be outright support for
a Europea policy mandating published articles
arising from EC-funded research to be available
after a given time period in open access archives.

The significance of this is that the CEC is not
(at present) willing to intercede pro OA with
overt political regulation. That leaves the field
open to self-regulation, which means that
research funders, research organisations and
universities must and will with each other -
negotiate the way forward. The significance of
the EURAB recommendation and ERC intentions then
is that they support a broader European move
towards OA by publishing and by deposition.

The publishers may, presently, be relieved that
there will be no overt political regulation. But
their 'Brussels Declaration on STM Publishing' is
only remarkable for confirming how out-of-touch
toll-access publishers have become not only
out-of-touch with the potential of digital
technology and the wider opportunities of the
knowledge-based economy, but also and even
worse with the workflow and needs of
scientists. It is not OA archiving mandates that
threaten publishers, but their widespread
unwillingness to embrace change and co-operate
(not true, of course, for OA publishers). Indeed,
it might well be that non-reforming publishers
will be running for political cover very soon by
demanding subsidies to preserve their outdated business models and technology.

This is why and how a case for wider political
regulation could still be built: Studies are
appearing that estimate a highly positive impact
for OA on innovation and economic growth. Models
and data that confirm this could persuade the CEC
to help organise a transition to OA. There is an
analogous precedent: Directive 2003/98/EC on the
re-use of public sector information (17 November
2003). It was based on high expectations about
the economic value of the PSI re-use market that
would emerge. Essentially, the directive regulates OA to PSI.

The economic value of OA would seem to be of even
higher value - compared to PSI and thus a real
boost to the European knowledge economy. This
would justify the instigation of an orderly
transition to OA. Moreover, a directive on OA to
scientific information might be the last chance
for change-resistant publishers to save
themselves. If the management of toll-access
publishers is incapable, then we must do our best
to create new publishing companies in Europe to
salvage 36,000 jobs and create new ones.

Chris Armbruster

"Academic Publishing in Europe: Innovation &
Publishing " - under the Patronage of Dr. Annette
Schavan, Federal Minister of Education and
Research in Germany and under the Auspices of the
EU Research Directorate-General

Research articles at

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

Cyberscience and the knowledge-based economy,
open access and trade publishing: from
contradiction to compatibility with nonexclusive copyright licensing
Received on Sat Feb 24 2007 - 22:46:42 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:48:46 GMT