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:
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.
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.
1.Depositing publications in Green Open Access institutional or thematic repositories on ID/OA basis (Immediate Deposit - Optional Access).
and recommends to:
2. Publishing in free of charge Diamond Open Access Journals/platforms run by public organizations.
3. Publishing in commercial Gold Open Access Journals of recognised quality, with transparent and fair prices for genuine added value.
The BELSPO Open Research Data policy (https://www.belspo.be/belspo/OpenScience/openData_en.stm) complies with FAIR principles and its conception is to be considered fully within the EOSC framework. BELSPO expects a provisional DMP upon submission of the grant application, and a completed DMP no later than 6 months after the start date of the project. After the end of the project data should be deposited in a certified and trusted data repository. The BELSPO follows the FAIR research data management principles in the template of their DMP. Furthermore it encourage re-use of research data where possible."
F.R.S. - F.N.R.S.
In Belgium, repositories are not centralized. At present almost all universities and major university colleges run Open Access repositories. At present OpenDOAR list 34 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. It collects and presents information on researchers, research, scientific projects and publications in Flanders.
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.
The Directory of Open Access Journals lists 44 Belgian titles (April 2020), 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
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.
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.
DMPonline.be is an instance made available by the DMPBelgium Consortium, a result of cooperation between several Flemish andWalloon universities and scientific institutes. It provides data management plan templates for different funders as well as guidelines specific to the institution of the researcher.
Training and Support is mainly taken up by the institutions 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:
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. BELSPO requires depositoing of publciations in an Open Access repository under an 'immediate deposit - optional access' mandate at the moment.
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.