From 23 to 29 October it is International Open Access Week. The perfect opportunity to talk to our Library director Lucinda Jones, about Open Access. In this interview she talks about the challenges that lie ahead, the role of libraries and the importance of broadening our scope to allow for a more diverse and sustainable publishing culture.
"By raising awareness of the authority the community has, and creating change within the community itself, so much can be achieved."
As EUR’s Rector Magnificus Annelien Bredenoord stated during the 2023 Open Science Festival in Rotterdam: "Open science will increase the quality of science by reducing bias in data. It increases the impact and relevance of science because there will be more voices and perspectives included, which increases epistemic justice. It also increases fairness and justice by including and expanding our results to a much larger audience.” One of the main drivers of our open science ambition is open access to academic publications.
EUR’s ambition to have 100% of the scientific publications open access by 2024 has been almost reached. Currently, 98% of academic, peer-reviewed articles are published open access at EUR (excluding Erasmus MC, who momentarily average 81%). This amazing achievement is due to two strategies (i) the Read & Publish agreements with large publishers established through the consortium of Dutch Universities and (ii) the implementation of the Open Access Regulation (OAR), based on the Taverne Amendment, which allows all short academic works by EUR authors to become publicly available in the institutional repository six months after the initial publication date.
Erasmus MC is currently working on the implementation of the Taverne Amendment and I am certain that their open access percentage will rise to 100% in the next years.
With almost all academic, peer-reviewed articles at EUR being publicly available (and some faculties even reaching 100% open access), the time has come to broaden our scope and explore alternative strategies that allow for a more diverse and sustainable publishing culture overall.
As the content manager of the university, libraries are responsible for making all types of resources easily accessible not only to the academic community but also to a broader public. Within EUR library our open access publication support is and will continue to be one of the main pillars of our work.
Our library’s open access experts play an important role within EUR and on a national level. Their knowledge of the present open access landscape is essential in aiding researchers to understand the practicalities of open access publishing and thus facilitating and supporting researchers in their publishing activities. Furthermore, on a national level our open access experts encourage the academic community to push the present boundaries of the open access landscape to take the next steps.
The challenges that we are facing at the moment are based on the fact that the present most widely used open access model (gold open access) is not future proof. It is neither economically sustainable nor is it inclusive.
It has long been assumed that the contractual transition from read to publish should be cost-neutral. However, this is far from the case. The costs to read but also to publish in the form of Article Processing Charges (APCs) are increasing yearly. It is also difficult to get insights into the actual overall open access costs due to the various forms of funding (Publish & Read deals are funded from the libraries' collection budgets; the APCs are paid by the author from research funds or faculty budgets).
There is increasing evidence that APCs impede researchers with fewer resources in publishing their research as open access. The waivers that some publishers offer are not a sustainable solution: authors do not want to be viewed as “charity cases” in need of funds. The only way to tackle this is to replace the ‘per unit’ payment model (like APCs) with more equitable models.
Additionally, university libraries have an essential role in negotiating terms with publishers. The transformative agreements, also known as Read & Publish deals, create the conditions for our researchers to publish directly (gold) open access, under an open license, in their journal of choice.
The third strategic goal of the ambition document and rolling agenda of National Plan Open Science (NPOS 2030 Ambition Document and Rolling Agenda) is: “In 2030, barriers to creating, reading, reusing and evaluating all Dutch scholarly output are removed, so everyone can access scientific knowledge in a sustainable way and benefit from it.”
The objective is that all scholarly output from publicly financed knowledge institutions from the Netherlands is freely and sustainable available and reusable under an open license. This can only be achieved with a harmonized multi-route approach (green, diamond, as well as gold open access) that emphasizes sustainability, cost-effectiveness and public values.
At a more local level, within EUR we have started to strengthen the green open access route by supporting authors in using Rights Retention. Authors frequently don’t realize the power they have when publishing, and the Rights Retention Strategy (RRS) enables authors to exercise their rights on their manuscripts to deposit a copy of the Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM) in a repository on publication and provide open access to it. Being aware of your rights as an author and acknowledging and asserting these rights benefits not only the authors themselves but also science and in the long run society.
We also aim to strengthen full and diamond open access publishing at EUR. We do this, for example, by continuing the Erasmus Library Open Access Fund which is divided into two funds, Open Access Book Fund, and the Diamond Open Access Fund. With the Open Access Book Fund, we seek to stimulate the open access publication of scientific monographs and edited collections. The Diamond Open Access Fund is intended as a support structure to improve and develop existing initiatives (professionalizing an existing journal, subscribing to a platform etc.) or to start up a new one (creating a new journal or flipping an existing journal to diamond open access)
The EUR library is also project lead for the diamond open access initiative of the Consortium of University Libraries. This initiative means to explore the possibility of establishing a national infrastructure for diamond open access publishing that is more cost-efficient than the present distributed infrastructures.
This year’s Open Access Week has a great theme. We very much need to focus more on community. By raising awareness of the authority the community has, and creating change within the community itself, so much can be achieved.
However, I also believe that we can’t accomplish our ultimate ambition without commercialization. A more diverse and inclusive, sustainable and cost-effective publishing culture can only be reached when all parties in the broader academic publishing environment collaborate to create new and alternative business models. So not only universities, researchers and libraries but also publishing companies, editors, journals, publication platforms and last but not least funders.