Belgium

Belgium

National Open Access Desk

  • Belgium recognized in an early stage the importance of Open Access. Many Belgian research organisations subscribed to the Berlin Declaration on Open Access in 2007, at a conference organised by DRIVER. This ambition was affirmed by the Brussels Declaration on Open Access, signed in 2012 by the Belgian, Flemish and French Community ministers of research. The declaration makes Open Access the default in circulating the results of Belgian academic and scientific research.
    The creation of the Immediate Deposit and Optional Access mandate (ID/OA) at Université de Liège (ULg) in 2007 paved the way for Belgian OA mandates. OA policies were developed by more than 15 Belgian research organisations. Consequently, Belgium now has a vast network of, mostly institutional, open access repositories.  

    Support and landscape

    • An overview of the Belgian research landscape can be found in the RIO country report for Belgium, what follows is a concise overview.

      Within the EU, Belgium has a strong reputation for R&D and innovation, primarily due to the high quality of its education and research facilities. There are two separate university systems in Belgium:

      • six French-speaking universities (including two in Brussels) and 21 university colleges (‘hautes écoles’),
      • six universities and 22 university colleges (“hogescholen”) in Flanders (see the full list of universities).

      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 biomedical pole (Brussels-Charleroi).

      The governance of the Belgian research system reflects the federal structure of the country, which consists of a federal, Belgian, government and a Flemish and French Community government. It is important to note that there is no overarching national research council in Belgium. The three main governmental funders are BELSPO (federal), FRS-FNRS (French Community) and FWO (Flanders). All three have Open Access policies in place.

      • 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. In the coming years, the federal research programmes will be revised. The revision will take into account the organisational changes of the federal science policy.
      • The Flemish R&D system is governed by the Department of Economy, Science and Innovation (EWI). EWI prepares, monitors and evaluates policy in the Economy, Science and Innovation policy area. Their main goal is to develop Flanders into one of the most advanced and prosperous regions in the world.
      • Two key agencies for STI policy are the innovation agency VLAIO and the main funding channel for research at universities FWO. These agencies govern the various policy instruments and measures of the Flemish region aiming at science and innovation. Flanders holding Company PMV governs several funds and measures that facilitate start and risk capital.
      • The Ministry of the French Community governs the fundamental research aspects (mainly through the F.R.S-FNRS National Scientific Research Fund) 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).

    National initiatives

      • Open Access Belgium is the informal network of Open Access enthusiasts in the Belgian research organisations. Since 2015 Open Access Belgium is a working group of Open Knowledge Belgium.
      • Following signing the Brussels Declaration on Open Access in October 2012 EWI organized several follow-up workshops, with focus on Open Access Open Data and Open  Science. A discussion platform facilitates knowledge exchange between EWI and the research organisations.
      • In 2010 the DRIVER projects were succeeded by OpenAIRE: Open Access Infrastructure for Research in Europe. OpenAIRE supports the European Commission’s Open Science policies with a technical infrastructure and a human network. Ghent University is national open access Desk for Belgium (NOAD) and coordinates region west.
      • In 2007 the Université de Liège adopted the first Belgian ID/OA mandate (immediate deposit – optional access). Ghent University followed in 2009.  L’Université Catholique de Louvain has adopted this model as well as from January 1st 2013.
      At the initiative of the ULg, it was decided to launch ‘EnablingOpenScholarship‘ (EOS), an organisation for universities and research institutions worldwide. The organisation is both an information service and a forum for raising and discussing issues around the mission of modern universities and research institutions, particularly with regard to the creation, dissemination and preservation of research findings.
  • To be updated soon.

    OpenAIRE statistics

    246,760 OA publications in 42 repositories
  • National policy

    Belgium recognized in an early stage the importance of Open Access. Many Belgian research organisations subscribed to the Berlin Declaration on Open Access in 2007, at a conference organised by DRIVER. This ambition was affirmed by the Brussels Declaration on Open Access, signed in 2012 by the Belgian, Flemish and French Community ministers of research at a conference organised by OpenAIRE. The declaration makes Open Access the default in circulating the results of Belgian academic and scientific research.

    An Open Access provision has been adopted in the Belgian law in Sep. 2018. This law gives authors the right to make scholarly publications available in open access if the publication is a result of research funded by public funds for at least 50%, with a maximum embargo period of  6 months for STM and 12 months for SSH.

    The 'Open Access Decree' of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation consolidates the deposit policy of the Universities, stipulating that all scientific articles subsidized by public funds must be deposited in an institutional directory.

    Institutional policy

    • ROARMAP lists 21 open access mandates in Belgium, either on the funder or on the institutional level. At present OpenDOAR list 30 Belgian repositories.
    • The number of Open Access publications in university repositories is steadily increasing. This can be linked to the sustain awareness-raising initiatives and training sessions organised by the universities.
    • All universities have Open Access repositories are compatible with OpenAIRE except one, with an Immediate Deposit/Optional Open Access (ID/OA) Mandate. They regularly organise in-house training sessions on Open Access. Some universities already have research data management strategies and plans in place.
    • To stimulate exchange of good practices and expertise a working group on open science and research data management has been established within the Flemish Interuniversity Council (VLIR).
    • KULeuven installed, as a pilot, a FAIR open access fund to stimulate researchers to publish in full open access journals with a reasonable APC. Part of the pilot is also an open access book fund.

    Funder policy

    There are three main funders: BELSPO (federal), FWO (Flanders) and F.N.R.S. (Wallonia)

    BELSPO

    • At BELSPO, there is an Open Access Mandate draft being designed - as these need to be negotiated with all the institutions, the final mandate has not been put in place yet, but it is expected to accompany the establishment of the ORFEO open access repository, one of the priorities of the Belgian federal science policy.
    FWO
    • According to the general regulation of the Research Foundation-Flanders (FWO), it is mandatory to make publications resulting from FWO funded research publicly available in a repository after maximum 1 year. Open Access ‘Gold’ is optional, for which the FWO funded researchers can make use of the consumables or bench fees that are part of their funding. The main host institutions, i.e. the Flemish universities, have repositories in place to facilitate this measure.
    FWO demands that researchers ensure that all data relating to their research are stored securely and sustainably, taking into account the specific characteristics of the discipline and the nature of the research. To stimulate exchange of good practices and expertise a working group on research data management has been established within the Flemish Interuniversity Council (VLIR).

    F.R.S. - F.N.R.S.

    • The F.R.S.-FNRS has issued a regulation on the implementation of the policy of Open Access to scientific publications resulting from research programmes supported by the F.R.S.-FNRS and Associated Funds, which is in force since 30/06/2013
  • Key networks and aggregators

    • In Belgium, repositories are not centralized. At present almost all universities and major university colleges run Open Access repositories. At present OpenDOAR list 30 Belgian repositories. Available full-text contents include doctoral and master theses, journal articles, conference papers, reports, books and book chapters. The Department of Economy, Science and Innovation (EWI) of the Flemish Government created the FRIS programme FRIS (Flanders Research Information Space). FRIS research portal is the regional portal on researchers and their research in Flanders. The Flemish Government wants to offer a unique window on research in Flanders and increase its visibility.

    Data repositories

    Data Management Plan

    The DMPbelgium Consortium provides DMPOnline.be to help write data management plans. KULeuven has its own platform.

    Data repositories

    The Registry of Research Data Repositories, lists 28 data repositories where Belgian institutions are involved. The complete list can be found on re3data.org.

    Local governments as well as the federal government are in favour of Open Data and have put mandates in place to secure Open Access to government data. On the Open Data portal of the Flemish government, a large number of data sets are available to consult and reuse. Apart from the government and the repositories, there are various other projects and initiatives supporting, implementing and researching Open Data and its possibilities.

    • IMinds has a Big Data in Health project and a Linked Open Data Project supporting automatic linking and publishing of data.
    • Belgian Biodiversity Platform provides free access to biodiversity data pertaining to Belgium
    • INBO: manages or supports multiple databases and interactive applications concerning nature and ecosystems
    Vliz: provides assistance, technologies and tools to scientists and policymakers to support marine data management.

    National publishing initiatives

    The Directory of Open Access Journals lists 34 Belgian titles (Sep. 2018), the majority of which do not charge APC’s and are funded by or established in collaboration with a research institution.  The number of scientific publications in Belgium is far above the European average.

    Journals in the field of Natural History, the European Journal of Taxonomy, the Belgian Journal of Zoology and Geologica Belgica are available in 'Diamond' Open Access, which is a variation on Gold OA. Publications in Diamond OA are not paid by the authors but by the publishing institutions. In the case of BELSPO those institutions are the Royal Museum for Central Africa and the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. All three Journals now boast rising Impact Factors. The Belgian open access journal Geologica Belgica ranks third of all Belgian journals by the SCImago Journal & Country Rank, ranked by journal impact. The Ghent University offers services to some Open Access Journals, providing an infrastructure and technical support: ojs.ugent.be

    National agreements with publishers

    A consortium of Flemish organisations, Elektron, negotiates agreements with major publishers and other service providers.

    OA books

    Some Belgian publishers provide open access books, e.g. Academia Press, Brepols, Leuven University Press, Presses universitaires de Liège.

  • There is a dedicated national open access portal. It provides information and news that relate to developments in OA in English and is targeted at the Belgian audience.

    Training and Support is mainly taken up by the organisations themselves. The OpenAIRE NOAD for Belgium assists them in providing information on European funding and the possibilities of OpenAIRE services.

    For more information, you can consult:

  • BELSPO

    At BELSPO, there is an Open Access Mandate draft being designed - as these need to be negotiated with all the institutions, the final mandate has not been put in place yet, but it is expected to accompany the establishment of the ORFEO open access repository, one of the priorities of the Belgian federal science policy.

    FWO

    According to the general regulation of the Research Foundation-Flanders (FWO), it is mandatory to make publications resulting from FWO funded research publicly available in a repository after maximum 1 year. Open Access ‘Gold’ is optional, for which the FWO funded researchers can make use of the consumables or bench fees that are part of their funding. The main host institutions, i.e. the Flemish universities, have repositories in place to facilitate this measure.

    FWO demands that researchers ensure that all data relating to their research are stored securely and sustainably, taking into account the specific characteristics of the discipline and the nature of the research. To stimulate exchange of good practices and expertise a working group on research data management has been established within the Flemish Interuniversity Council (VLIR).

    F.R.S. - F.N.R.S.

    The F.R.S.-FNRS has issued a regulation on the implementation of the policy of Open Access to scientific publications resulting from research programmes supported by the F.R.S.-FNRS and Associated Funds, which is in force since 30/06/2013.

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