There is growing evidence that countries also benefit because OA increases the impact of the research in which they invest public money and therefore, there is a better return on investment.
The European Commission recognises the above. Its objective therefore is to optimise the impact of publicly-funded scientific research, both at European (FP7, Horizon 2020) and Member State level. OA is one of the tools to enhance Europe's economic performance and improve the capacity to compete through knowledge. Results of publicly-funded research should be disseminated more broadly and faster, for the benefit of researchers, innovative industry and citizens. OA also boosts the visibility of European research, and in particular, offers access to the latest research for utilisation to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The Commission’s strategy is to develop and implement OA to research results from projects funded by the EU Research Framework Programmes, namely FP7 and Horizon 2020.
Read more about OA in Horizon 2020 and how OpenAIRE assists and implements OA and Open Science in Horizon 2020 to a variety of stakeholder groups (OpenAIRE factsheets can be found here).
The European Commission Recommended to all Member States in July 2012 the following:
“Policies on OA to scientific research results should apply to all research that receives public funds. Such policies are expected to improve conditions for conducting research by reducing duplication of efforts and by minimising the time spent searching for information and accessing it. This will speed up scientific progress and make it easier to cooperate across and beyond the EU. Such policies will also respond to calls within the scientific community for greater access to scientific information.”
It also promotes OA as “a key feature of Member States’ policies for responsible research and innovation” and recommends to Member States to develop their policies on OA to scientific publications. In addition, the Recommendation covered OA to scientific research data that “helps to enhance data quality, reduces the need for duplication of research, speeds up scientific progress and helps to combat scientific fraud.”
The Commission encourages a multi-stakeholder dialogue at national, European and international level on how to foster OA to and preservation of scientific information. In this context, some of the areas it is looking at are:
Member states governments have begun to take an interest in OA out of a desire to ensure that the research they fund reaches the largest possible audience, as well as, out of recognising the waste of public resources, resulting from the old system in which taxpayers pay twice for a single service; once for research and a second time for access to its results. For the past years, several projects were initiated and tools were developed to record funders’ and institutions’ OA and Research Data Management policies to ensure that compliance issues are met by all researchers.
Among these projects and tools are:
In its final report “Riding the wave: How Europe can gain from the rising tide of scientific data” in October 2010, the High Level Expert Group on Scientific Data emphasised the critical importance of sharing and preserving reliable data produced during the scientific process. The Commission considers urgent policy action on access to data and “recommends it to Member States.” In October 2013, a “Report of the European Commission - Public Consultation on Open Research Data” was released with some recommendations to the way forward and which have also been reflected in Horizon 2020 OA policies.
The European University Association (EUA) – the representative organisation of universities and national rectors’ conferences in 47 European countries – has recently published a Statement on Open Science to EU Institutions and National Governments welcoming the efforts of National Governments and the European Commission in promoting Open Science values in their national research funding schemes and in the EU Research and Innovation Framework Programme.
This statement follows the previous recommendations EUA provided to its members Towards Full Open Access in 2020: Aims and recommendations for university leaders and National Rectors’ Conferences and Towards Open Access to Research Data and highlights the role of the OpenAIRE platform in the adoption of good research, sharing and assessment practices: “In particular, EUA strongly supports EU policies such as Open access to publications and research data, EU-wide open science platforms such as OpenAIRE, and the upcoming creation of the European Open Science Cloud (…)”.
The document includes key messages addressed to EU institutions and national governments, covering different areas, from Open Science policies development to the researchers’ engagement with OA, research assessment approaches, the creation of infrastructures and the establishment of necessary legislation on use and re-use of research publications and data, including text and data mining.
The EUA has also set up an Expert Group on Science 2.0/Open Science to continue developments in this area.
A study funded by the Commission suggested that OA was reaching the tipping point, with around 50% of scientific papers published in 2011 available for free (as of August 2013): “The tipping point for open access (more than 50% of the papers available for free) has been reached in several countries, including Brazil, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the US, as well as in biomedical research, biology, and mathematics and statistics.”
A follow-up report, “Open access availability of scientific publications” published in January 2018 states the following: “The vast majority of the large scholarly publishing countries have more than 50% of their articles published from 2010 to 2014 freely available for download in gold and/or green gratis OA. Examining the availability of articles by domains of scholarly activity shows that health sciences has the most articles available for free (at least 59% of the articles published in 2014 could be read for free in 2016), followed by the natural sciences (55%), applied sciences (47%), economic and social sciences (44%), and arts and humanities (24%).”