Belgium
Last updated on 
27 April 2020

National Open Access Desk

University of Ghent, Belgium
University of Ghent, Belgium
  • Overview

    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

    • In 2019 the Flemish Open Science Board emerged: it will unite Flemish stakeholders in a shared vision for the future with regard to Open Science and  EOSC, and, supported by technical working groups, advises the policy on steps to be taken to fully integrate Flanders into the international Open Science landscape
    • 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.
    • Formal and informal working groups and stakeholdergroups around Open Science facilitate discussion, knowedge exchange and policy integration.
    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.

  • Open Science Policy

    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.

    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 which requires:

      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."

    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 an open access 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. A short Data Management Plan is expected when applying for funding. A more substantial Data Management Plan is required after six months of the start of the project. 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

    Institutional Policy

    • ROARMAP lists 19 open access mandates in Belgium, either on the funder or on the institutional level. At present OpenDOAR list 36 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 who 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.
  • Infrastructure & EOSC

    Key networks & Aggregators

    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.

    Data repositories

    Data Management Planning

    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 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

    National agreements with publishers

    A consortium of Flemish organisations, Elektron, negotiates agreements with major publishers and other service providers. For the Federation Wallonie-Bruxelles, BICfB coordinates negotiations. 

    OA books

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

    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.

  • Training & Support

    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:

  • Statistics

    372882 OA publications in 52 repositories
  • News

    28 January 2020
    The Flemish Open Science Board​ It was a nice Christmas present for the Open Science community, right before the New Year, The Flemish Open Science Board emerged. On initiative of Flemish minister Hilde Crevits, the Flemish Government approved the Flemish Open Science policy plan and the Open Science Board (the document can be downloaded here). Together with the Flemish Open Science Board, F...
    09 March 2016
    This year, Open Knowledge Belgium picked the beautiful city of Antwerp as the place to be for all open knowledge, open source and open data enthusiasts.The variety of speakers at the Open Belgium Conference clearly mirrors the mission of Open Knowledge Belgium: opening up knowledge in Belgium trough community driven ways connecting four main actors: community, researchers, governments and industri...
    28 June 2015
    The Flemish Interuniversity Council, VLIR, organized a Foster workshop on Open Science and Research Data Management. The conference lived up to its name covering a wide variety of topics on Open Data and Data Management, ranging from policies and legal aspects to case studies, researcher’s experiences and useful applications.After a general introduction, in which Stefanie Van der Burght, Ghent Uni...
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