Access to and Preservation of Scientific Information in Europe

Executive summary

An important aspect of open science is a move towards open access to publicly funded research results, including scientific publications as well as research data. Based on the structure of Commission Recommendation C(2012) 4890 final and its assorted reporting mechanism (the National Points of Reference for scientific information) this report provides an overview on access to and preservation of scientific information in the EU Member States as well as Norway and Turkey. It is based on self-reporting by the participating states as well as cross-referencing with other relevant documents and further desk research.

Concerning open access to scientific peer-reviewed publications, most EU Member States reported a national preference for one of the two types of open access, either the Green (self-archiving) or the Gold (open access publishing) model. Preference for the Green model is found in Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain. Those expressing a preference for the Gold model are Hungary, the Netherlands, Romania, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Other Member States support both models equally, such as Germany, France, Croatia, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland and Finland. However, the expressed preferences for one of the two models are not pure models in which only one route is followed. Instead, there is generally a system of predominance of one model with the possibility of using the other model, so a mixture of both routes results.

While few Member States have a national law requiring open access to publications, a mandate put in place by law is not necessarily stronger or more effective than a mandate put in place by a single institution or funder. For example, an open access mandate is strong as it ties open access to possible withdrawal of funds in the case of non-compliance, or to the evaluation of researchers’ careers.

Overall, policies on open access to research data are less developed across EU countries than policies and strategies on open access to research publications. However, individual Member State feedback shows a general acknowledgement of the importance of open research data and of policies, strategies and actions addressed at fostering the collection, curation, preservation and re-use of research data. Based on the self-reporting of the EU Member States and participating associated countries, the following classification is proposed.

  • Very little or no open access to research data policies in place and no plan for a more developed policy in the near future: Cyprus, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland.
  • Very little or no open access to research data policies in place, but some plans in place or under development: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden, Turkey.
  • Open access policies/institutional strategies or subject-based initiatives for research data already in place: Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, the United Kingdom.

Concerning the curation and preservation of scientific information (another issue covered by the 2012 Recommendation), institutional repositories are very well developed in most Member States although some NPR reports stress that, in many cases, institutional repositories are not certified to properly guarantee the long-term preservation of scientific information.

NPR reports also show that many Member States have made a clear effort to become more efficient and transparent regarding scientific information and research activities in general. This being said, some Member States underline research information purposes rather than the objective of open access to research results, with most CRIS systems containing meta-data and not necessarily full results.

Nevertheless, a tendency can be observed among the latest wave of EU enlargement countries that they are focusing efforts on developing centralised national repositories for preservation to be connected to the existing national CRIS systems and to be inter-operable across the EU with, for example, OpenAIRE protocols.

Many Member States have devised global policies and strategies for developing e-infrastructures in a comprehensive way. Such strategies often contain specific chapters or sections addressing scientific information, research and innovation, covering storage and high-performance computing capabilities as well as the appropriate dissemination, access and visibility of research results. As is the case in other areas, the stage of e-infrastructure development varies greatly among Member States, and it is worth noting differences in funding capabilities in this area. The support provided by EU-funded projects and initiatives is of significant importance here.

Concerning participation in multi-stakeholder dialogues and activities, several countries have set up national coordination bodies or networks (Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Austria, Poland, Portugal). Other countries rely on a university or a university library (or an association of libraries) to coordinate national stakeholders (Czech Republic, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta) or on their research promotion agency/research councils (Cyprus, Sweden, the United Kingdom) or their academy of science (Slovakia).

Specific events, such as open-access workshops or activities during the annual open-access week, have also been identified as a way to galvanise stakeholder interaction at the national level (Czech Republic, Croatia, Italy, Romania). Additionally to EU fora (such as ERA, ERAC, the NPR, the Digital ERA Forum and the E-IRG), EU funded projects such as OpenAIRE FOSTER and PASTEUR4OA as well as PEER, Dariah and Serscida were mentioned as important support mechanisms. Furthermore, Belgium and the Netherlands have established bilateral cooperation and among the Nordic states (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) part of the dialogue on open science is conducted within the framework of the NordForsk organisation.

URL : Access to and Preservation of Scientific Information in Europe

Alternative location :