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Newsletter open access
No. 38
Open access developments in the Netherlands
Study of open access monographs
An important landscape study of open access for monographs was published by Knowledge Exchange in autumn 2017. This study, conducted in eight European countries, helps to identify the next steps required so as to make progress in open access for monographs. A survey has now been drafted to shape the follow-up to the study. The results, in combination with a webinar and workshop, will be used to take concrete follow-up steps. Everyone will be invited to respond: publishers, authors, libraries and grant providers. If you would like to take part in the study, please click HERE to do so.
2018 sector agreement on university education and open access
Minister of Education, Culture and Science Ingrid van Engelshoven and the publicly funded universities, represented by the VSNU, have made quality agreements in the 2018 sector agreement on university education on higher education, the shared priorities in the forthcoming government's term of office and the universities' public profiles.
Open access and open science are part of these agreements. The VSNU and the Minister are committed to achieving the following ambitions:
  • International cooperation is required in order to realise Dutch ambitions in the field of open science. Consequently, the universities and national government advocate realising the ambitions in the National Plan Open Science, the Council Conclusions and the coalition agreement through international consultations.
  • Transparency is required when spending public funds. For that reason, the universities' commitment is to not sign any non-disclosure agreements with publishers.
  • The VSNU discusses the progress with respect to the four ambitions of the National Plan Open Science in the National Platform Open Science and during governmental consultations with the Minister of Education, Culture and Science. For open access, the VSNU provides insight into progress through qualitative and quantitative monitoring (including percentages).
  • The Taverne Amendment legally establishes (in copyright contract law) that all Dutch authors have the right to make freely accessible their scientific work for which the research is either fully or partially funded by Dutch public funds. The universities will further substantiate this amendment by depositing such work in an institutional repository within a reasonable period of time. The Minister of Education, Culture and Science will adopt a mediator role should this action provoke resistance from publishers.
Large-scale European survey of contracts with publishers
The European University Association (EUA) conducted an extensive survey of big deals and contracts with scientific publishers. This survey shows that European universities and research institutions can save hundreds of millions by switching to an open access publishing system.
University negotiators from 28 different European countries were questioned in 2016 and 2017 for this survey about the costs and terms of their largest contracts with publishers. The answers were anonymised by country and publisher, but they still present a clear picture of the negotiation results that are often not made public. Collectively, the research institutions annually spend approximately €421 million on periodicals, e-books and databases. Of this sum, the vast majority (€384 million) is spent on periodicals. The report goes on to say that the actual costs will be even higher because the negotiators were only asked to supply the data for the three most expensive contracts.
In addition, the report refers to earlier research on the financial benefits of open access publishing. "Recent studies have estimated that the transition towards an open access publishing system could result in savings of up to 45% for periodicals alone. This would imply potential savings of around EUR 170,000,000 on journals in Europe, which could be re-allocated to research and/or to moving towards a full-scale open access publishing system."
The survey observes that universities are hesitant about including Article Processing Charges (APCs) in the contracts, but these charges could become an important instrument for the transition to full open access. Consequently, the EUA will focus more attention on APCs in the upcoming follow-up study.
International developments
French research institutions and universities have cancelled their subscription to Springer journals due to a stalemate in fee negotiations between the publisher and, a national consortium representing more than 250 academic institutions in France. and Springer Nature have failed to reach an agreement on subscriptions for its Springer journals after more than a year of discussions. The publisher's proposal includes an increase in prices, which the consortium refuses to accept.
A statement from asserts that the consortium insisted on a reduction in subscription costs so as to take into account the increasing number of open access articles published in Springer journals. However, Springer does not want to go along with this argument.
Following lengthy negotiations and temporary deals, FinELib and Elsevier have reached a three-year agreement on the ScienceDirect Freedom collection. Previous reports appeared in this newsletter. Finnish researchers who are fighting for greater transparency in academic publishing agreements have meanwhile submitted a Freedom of Information request to FinELib in accordance with the Finnish Freedom of Information Act. The researchers are demanding that the complete contract texts and the total cost information per subscriber institution per year as specified in the contracts are revealed for all recent deals.
The National Research Council of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) has introduced a new open access policy. All publications produced in SNSF-funded research projects will be fully available online in digital format from 2020 onwards.
In the media
The EU's outgoing director-general for research, science and innovation, Robert-Jan Smits, has recently been appointed the EU's special envoy tasked with helping to make all publicly funded research in Europe freely available by 2020. Smits said in an interview about his new role that while scores of people are paying lip service to open access, there is a lot of hypocrisy when it comes to action. Researchers and their affiliated institutions are key stakeholders. They are in a complex situation, Smits said. Although many researchers say that they support the principles of open access, their dream is still to publish in a prestigious journal with the highest possible impact factor. These journals often have a paywall. According to Smits, the universities are likewise obsessed with the traditional ranking lists that use mainly one metric: the number of publications in high-impact journals. As Smits sees it, resolving this problem requires looking at more than just the open access issue. For example, universities need to be ranked according to other criteria and the reward systems in the universities themselves must be overhauled as well.

Open access agenda

1417 May 2018: Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR) Annual Meeting 2018 – Hamburg, Germany

31 May1 June 2018: Open Scholarly Communication in Europe. Addressing the Coordination Problem – Athens, Greece

67 June 2018: UNT Open Access Symposium 2018 – Denton, US

46 July 2018: LIBER Annual Conference 2018 – Lille, France

914 July 2018: European Open Science Forum – Toulouse, France

56 September 2018: OpenUP conference: ‘Opening Up the Research Life Cycle: Innovative Methods for Open Science’ – Brussels, Belgium

1719 September 2018: Conference on Open Access Scholarly Publishing (COASP) – Vienna, Austria
34 December 2018: 14th Berlin Open Access Conference – Berlin, Germany


Publication details 

The open access newsletter is a VSNU publication in collaboration with the Dutch university libraries and the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, National Library of the Netherlands (KB). This newsletter is intended for anyone interested in open access, including academics, university administrators, library staff, knowledge partners, politicians and media representatives.

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