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Full OA by 2020? Competitiveness Council’s conclusions on Open Science

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Following their 26-27 May meeting in Brussels, the EU Competitiveness Council (made up of ministers of science, innovation, trade, and industry) declared that all scientific papers should be freely available by 2020. Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, has called the move "life-changing". 

Although some are already questioning how achievable this goal may be, OpenAIRE warmly welcomes the increased focus it gives to the implementation of OA. OpenAIRE also welcomes the Council’s pragmatic decision to continue recognize the need for a diversity of approaches to OA implementation. Despite an increasing clamour for concentration on the “flipping model” whereby pay-walled journals are converted to OA by switching subscriptions for APCs (article-processing charges), the Council continues to welcome both OA publishing and OA archiving (also known as gold and green) as complementary routes to achieving full OA. This pragmatic decision puts the Council in line with COAR’s recent statement that there is “there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to implementing open access.”

"Open Science is a topic which is very dear to our hearts. During the Netherlands presidency, we have aimed at bringing Europe to the forefront of global change and at leading the transition to a new way of doing research and science based on openness, big data and cloud computing" - Sander Dekker, State Secretary of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands

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The Council’s conclusions also call for the removal of unnecessary legal, organizational and financial barriers by fostering open access to publications and data of publicly funded research, open licenses, new metrics and new (relaxed) regulations on text and data mining. They stress the need for the synchronized efforts of all partners as well as engagement with third countries and emphasizes the importance of mechanisms like training and awareness-raising to implement the cultural shift to Open Science.

A slight disappointment in the conclusions is perhaps the lack of a clear position on the length of acceptable embargoes, although some member states had been pushing for the inclusion of such a measure. On the matter of embargoes, where OA is delayed for a period to prioritise journal subscribers, although some countries had sought to define the exact length of acceptable embargoes, the final document does not go so far. In the end, its somewhat inelegant formulation is, “use the various models possible…without embargoes or with as short as possible embargoes.” 

On data, the Council follows the EC’s recent announcement that Horizon 2020 will be “open data by default” by encouraging “Member States, the Commission and stakeholders to set optimal reuse of research data as the point of departure”, with opt-out options and strict safeguards where necessary: echoing the DG-RTD’s Open Access team’s open-data mantra “as open as possible, as closed as necessary”

The Council further calls for new incentive mechanisms and means of quality measurement and incentives, taking into account the impact on society and the willingness to share results for reuse, and for a bigger impact of society to science (use of citizen science, improve access of citizens to the results of research by training of ICT and data skills).