The European Commission (EC) has just released a new report that sheds light on the open access policy for Horizon 2020 grants, investigates which aspects of this policy are successful or need further improvements and explores ways to optimize its internal monitoring system. This report was carried out by Athena Research & Innovation Center, a long time partner of OpenAIRE, PPMI , and UNU-Merit. 

One of the main goals of this study was to employ an open, transparent, and repeatable approach as a catalyst for improving the operationalization of open-access monitoring in the EC. What is worth noting here is that open data were considered the primary source for such monitoring for the first time.

Despite the fact that working with and merging open sources often proved to be a painstaking process, it was one that ultimately proved flexible and agile, and allowed the study team to interact with the community and propose changes to the underlying public infrastructure. Moreover, most of the data and metadata contained in the open sources proved to be of good quality, justifying the adoption and curation of open, community-driven standards.

OpenAIRE's tools to monitor and track the metadata on research outputs were extensively used in the study. Our Research Graph was one of the open data sources used to identify and gather a comprehensive and authoritative list of all peer-reviewed Horizon 2020 publications while already tested knowledge extraction technologies (natural language processing (NLP)/machine learning (ML) used by Athena RC were also included in the selected methodology.

Amongst others, the report's findings underline the importance of open-source infrastructures, such as institutional repositories and the necessity to invest further and improve them to ensure "continuity, robustness and therefore trust in the monitoring process". These steps are necessary to build a pragmatic approach for implementing Open Science.

Some interesting findings of this report

  • Horizon 2020 is at the top of funders in terms of the level of open access achieved. On average, the open access rate among Horizon 2020 publications has increased steadily over the duration of the programme, from just over 65% of peer-reviewed publications being open-access in 2014, to 86% in 2019.
  • The estimated average article processing charge (APC) of a ‘gold’ open access article is around EUR 2,200. ‘Hybrid’ open access articles, a category that will no longer be reimbursed under Horizon Europe, has a higher average cost of EUR 2,600. 
  • 49% of Horizon 2020 publications were published using Creative Commons (CC) licences, which permit reuse (with various levels of restrictions) while 33% use publisher-specific licences that place restrictions on text and data mining (TDM).
  • Institutional repositories have responded in a satisfactory manner to the challenge of providing FAIR access, amending internal processes and metadata to incorporate necessary changes.
  • H2020 OA policy led to learning effects: fulfilling their open access obligations under Horizon 2020 led to increased awareness and knowledge among beneficiaries with regard to the concepts and principles that underpin Open Science, and improved their related skills
  • At organisational and system level, the Horizon 2020 open access policy has produced spill-over effects by encouraging other European research funders and institutions to adopt similar open access policies and measures.

Download the full report here.

See the European Commission's press release here.

For more information, please contact Dr. Ioanna Gripari from Athena Research & Innovation Center.

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