Swiss meeting on open access, organized the the academy of the humanities and social sciences

From: Donat Agosti <agosti_at_AMNH.ORG>
Date: Tue, 6 Mar 2007 00:34:40 +0100

Open Access

 From the principles to the implementation


A meeting organized by the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social
Sciences (SAGW:, March 1,


This meeting has been organized by the SAGW to explain their members
&#8220;open access&#8221;, using mostly speakers from other academic
fields in Switzerland, a country which is very active regarding the
implementation of open access in the scientific environment (see e.g.
Berlin Declaration). Especially ZORA (Zurich Open Repository and Archive)
at the University allowed not only demonstrating the principles but also
the nitty-gritty work of implementing open access.


Most of the contributions will be made open access at the above web site,
and especially the very eloquent contribution by Yola de Lusenent, which
to a large degree was a comment on recent initiatives and meeting at
EU-level is worth reading. Some or her major points about the publishers
and oa views became obvious during the course of the meeting


Alexander Borbély&#8217;s and Matthias Töwe&#8217;s thoughtful and
comprehensive overview on open access pointed to the heavy bias in
empiric studies and presentation of data, journals as main publication
form rather then monographs, and race for fast (and first) publication of
data in highly competitive fields as the reasons why open access is more
advanced the in fields like the humanities, and that each field ought to
understand what open access contributes, such as access through
publications to the original sources, which are open themselves in
repositories. These lectures were complemented with technical details
from two Swiss repositories ZORA and RERO.


At the end of their lecture the scene was set with

- an overview of existing repositories in Switzerland

- an explanation of the different roads to open access (green and gold)

- different business models and its strength and weaknesses explained,
such as how USD3,000 for open access by Elsevier can be justified with
their huge profits

- a statment that through Swiss institution about 43% of all the of the
24,000 journals world wide can be accessed

- that the universities will not become publishers to provide customized
communication tools for their staff

- a conclusion, that there is no single business model for open access
emerging, but that open access could be seen as a discovery tool to find
literature which would not be discovered otherwise and might lead to
higher sale

- open access leads to better citation indeces

- open access is not equal dropping peer review and thus loss of quality

- open access is being discussed in the frame work of science and not
popular science (where books are sold to recover the price for its
creation (content and production).


Michel Jaccard, a lawyer talked about access, and stressed the point of
the creative commons licences. One of his main points was that
repositories have to be careful not to be vulnerable to law suits by the
publishers, and that through the international nature of access, law
suits could be filed from anywhere. It is thus important to be very clear
in the kind of copyright policies a repository has, and to be very
vigilant in case a law suit is threatened (show resonsiveness by quickly
removing the disputed content). An other point was, that there is no
legal definition what open access actually is.


A very different approach has been described by Bas Savenjie (Utrecht
University), who essentially made the point, that all the material before
1996 ought be made available, because before that time nobody would sign
a copyright transfer agreement stating that the dissemination through
electronic media is regulated. An in fact, the large publishers (e.g.
Elsevier, Blackwell) are scanning and using increasingly the backlogs of
their journals without asking the authors for copyright wavers, and thus
similarly infringing the authors copyright.


Yola de Lusenet from the European Commission on Preservation and Access
comments on the recent Bruxelles meeting brought in the notion of the
publishers claim that open access is threatening a EU3billion market and
up to 10,000 employee and thus need be reconsidered: But what has this to
do with science communications? Would it not be better that the
scientists would create their own new spaces and ways to communicate and
not wait until the publishers follow suit? Although, it also would mean
that the scientists by themselves are more aware about open access, and
in fact become active players. Finally, she ended up with the conclusion
of the STM report she could agree with: &#8220;There is not one


Barbara Kalumenos (Elsevier) explained the publishers side, stressing
that they are at the moment in a test phase. She introduced the notion of
&#8216;sponsored article&#8217;, that is an article in a hybrid journal
that the authors pays USD3,000 in the Elsevier case to make open access,
as opposed to by subscription only &#8211; which, as Johannes Fournier
(DFG) pointed out is USD3,000 profit. Kalumenos then went on to point
out, that there seems to be no interest in the science community, since
only for 0.1% of the articles this option has been chosen. So, the most
expensive gold oa access does not work, but then the many oa journals and
green road where not brought in her statement at all: There is only a
slight interest for oa in the research community.


At the final open discussion the road towards open access in Swiss public
funded research was outlined: first the repositories need be built up
&#8211; Zora Zürich or Reso are advanced examples, and then a mandate
ought to be implemented. Dieter Imboden (president of the
&#8220;Forschungsrat&#8221; of the the Swiss Science Foundation)
announced that a policy including a mandate is being adopted, but that
control and installation of the repositories will not be part of SNF
business; Funding will be available for paying towards oa related
publishing costs. Any further moves are contingent upon the scientists to
comply with the Green road (selfarchiving) before the Gold road will be






Dr. Donat Agosti

Science Consultant

Research Associate, American Museum of Natural History and Naturmuseum
der Burgergemeinde Bern




Skype: agostileu


Current Location

Dalmaziquai 45

3005 Bern


+41-31-351 7152

Received on Tue Mar 06 2007 - 01:09:48 GMT

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