Open Access in Belgium

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 [updated December 2013]

The National Research Environment

This is a summary of the concise overview of the Belgian research landscape that can be found on the Erawatch-site National profile for Belgium.


The governance of the Belgian research system reflects the federal structure of the country[1].

  • The Federal Science Policy office (BelSPO) coordinates science policy at the federal level as well as on an international level. The federal government also coordinates some research of national interest such as defence, space and polar research.
  • The Flemish R&D system is governed by the Department of Economy, Science and Innovation (EWI). The main role of EWI is policy-making, execution and policy studies.
  • On the French Community side, the regions (Wallonia and app. 80% of the budget of the Brussels-Capital Region) and the community are separate entities whereby the Ministry of the French Community governs the fundamental research aspects and the education system, including all French-speaking universities (six French-speaking universities, including two in Brussels). The regional governments oversee applied and industrial research with economic development purposes, and support technology guidance and funding for interfaces between research organisations, industry and universities.
  • The key agency within the Walloon administration is the DGO6 (Directorate General operational for Economy, Employment and Research).
  • Brussels-Capital's R&D policy is governed by the Ministry of the Brussels-Capital Region and the implementing agency is INNOVIRIS (Brussels Institute for Research and Innovation).


There are two separate university systems in Belgium, six French-speaking universities (including two in Brussels) and 21 university colleges (‘hautes écoles’), and six universities and 22 university colleges (“hogescholen”) in Flanders (see full list of universities).[2] Additionally there are several subject-based research institutions.

The larger strategic research centres in Flanders are often participating in EU and other international projects and are significant actors in the ERA (e.g. IMEC, VITO, VIB), as is the Walloon Space research pole (Liège) or the bio-medical pole (Brussels-Charleroi).

Major research funders

  • : FNRS Fonds (National) de la Recherche Scientifique
  • : FWO, the Research Foundation Flanders
  • : IWT the government agency for Innovation by Science and Technology
  • : IBBT Interdisciplinary Institute for Broadband Technology
  • : BELSPO Belgian Science Policy
  • BOF “Special Research Funds” are allocated annualy by the Flanders Government to the universities, supporting fundamental research activities.

Funder mandates with regards to open access

ROARMAP lists 9 open access mandates in Belgium, either on funder or on institutional level.[3] FWO and FNRS oblige their  researchers to self-archive all articles coming from research funded by the FWO[4] and FRS- FNRS[5], in OA repositories. In October 2013, FRS-FNRS announced a mandate obliging researchers to deposit their publications in a repository, based on the 'ID/OA' mandate already in place in the Universities of Ghent and Liège.  In 2013, FWO announced plans to oblige fundees to deposit relevant raw datasets in repositories as well, but there is no official policy yet.[6]

 Open Access in Belgium

Projects and initiatives

The DRIVER projects have been instrumental in developing OA awareness across the Belgian scientific community. Ghent University Library was the Belgian partner in those projects and created a Belgian repository community, DRIVER Belgium. Several technical and legal meetings were organised, the DRIVER Guidelines were distributed to repository managers and a national search interface for the driver compliant OA-repositories was set up. Crucial was the national conference in Feb. 2007, that brought together major stakeholders in Belgium regarding research and where fourteen university rectors, the Ministers of Science of Flanders and Wallonia and the president of the Flemish Council of Schools for HE signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities.

In October 2012, at the National Open Access Day in Brussels, the three ministers of Science and Research signed the Brussels Declaration on Open Access, in which they agreed to make Open Access the default for all Belgian research output. The Brussels Declaration is being used by Belgian officials as point of reference when announcing new policies.

The University of Liège adopted an institutional ID/OA mandate (immediate deposit – optional access) in May 2007. In the same year the university organized an Open Access meeting resulting in the creation of Enabling Open Scholarship (EOS), whose goal is to unite universities and research institutions worldwide, particularly with regard to the creation, dissemination and preservation of research findings. In December 2009, Ghent University adopted an institutional ID/OA mandate too. L’Université Catholique de Louvain has adopted this model as well from January 1st 2013.

In October 2013, a dedicated working group covering all relevant levels from the different Belgian governments was established, a so called 'FCC Concertation Group'. Open Access Belgium is also represented in this group.

OpenAIRE compliancy

Currently, six Belgian repositories are OpenAIRE compliant:


Open Access repositories

OpenDOAR list 27 Belgian repositories

Open Access publishing

In December 2013 , The Directory of Open Access Journals lists 25 Belgian titles, the majority of which do not charge APC’s and are funded by or established in collaboration with a research institution. 

Open Access to Research Data in Belgium

On, 4 Belgian data repositories are listed:

The Registry of Research Data Repositories ( lists 16 repositories where Belgian institutions are involved.

On May 28 2013, OpenAIRE organized a dedicated workshop ‘Dealing with Data. What’s the role for the Library?’ in Ghent, Belgium. Proceedings can be found here.




Contributors Contact Details

Inge Van Nieuwerburgh

Gwen Franck

Ghent University