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Recommendations for university leader, Research Funding and Research Performing Organisations from EUA and Science Europe

European University Association (EUA) published recommendations for university leaders and National Rectors’ Conferences on the transition towards full and immediate Open Access. And Science Europe released a Position Statement rethinking the pathways to impact and societal value of research.

European University Association logo.pngEuropean University Association (EUA) - the representative organisation of universities and national rectors’ conferences in 47 European countries - released a publication “Towards Full Open Access in 2020: Aims and recommendations for university leaders and National Rectors’ Conferences” (June 2017).
Below are some highlights:

“The transition towards full and immediate Open Access (OA) must be as short as possible and ideally be accomplished by 2020.”


Aims for an open publishing system
“We wish for an open scholarly knowledge exchange system that:
  • Guarantees the quality of the peer-review process for the good advancement of knowledge and gives appropriate credit to researchers for their career development;
  • Ensures that the author and/or institution retains copyright, allows unrestricted reading, use and re-use of information with open licences and rights to mine content and data;
  • Provides services with an equitable cost-benefit ratio for publishers and public institutions. The costs related to researchers as providers of both research outputs and peer review are recognised in the publication system; thus, universities, research centres, research funders and publishers use public funds for research more efficiently, in particular by handling multinational negotiations.”
Transition towards OA to Research Publications 
  • Both ‘gold’ and ‘green’ OA routes have their advantages and should be pursued. Other routes towards OA, such as the hybrid model, should be assessed to ensure that they avoid duplication of fees and contribute to OA within equitable business models.
  • Support for institutional or shared repositories is needed, as well as support for e-infrastructures that link them (OpenAIRE).
  • Those countries that have not yet stipulated embargo periods in accordance with the European Commission and other major funders’ mandates should do so (i.e. 6 months for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics; 12 months for Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts). It can be a mismatch between the period of time required by funders to make publications available in OA and the embargo periods established by publishers’ policies. It is thus important to ensure that the embargo periods established at national level cannot be overruled by publishers.
  • Support for the development of new sustainable ‘gold OA’ models is needed, for instance, the flat rates suggested by flipping models or the gathering of several institutions to support projects as Knowledge Unlatched or the Open Library of Humanities.
  • There is a need for more transparency on overall and disaggregated costs for the composition of APCs and contractual OA (i.e. offsetting). It is also necessary to gain knowledge of and to control APCs at institutional and collective levels (regional, national, European).
  • Cost transparency in the scientific publishing market is a non-negotiable requirement.
  • Governments and research funders should further their support in the transition towards OA by contributing to costs incurred by institutions and researchers with OA, such as those related to infrastructures and APCs.


Institutional Development of OA

“Institutional leaders play a crucial role in leading the transition of the current publishing system into a full OA publishing system.”


Mobilisation of researchers and developing human capital

“Achieving full OA requires the mobilisation of all researchers, including robust incentive and rewards systems to ensure a quick transition and take-up of OA across disciplines.”

“We need to raise awareness of OA to all researchers” - researchers need to receive updated information and training.

“Incentives could include institutional policies for career progression rewarding publishing in OAs repositories and/or scholarly journals; the sharing of research data with proper open licences and accessible e-infrastructures. In this framework, identifying best practices from different research communities and actively involving graduate and doctoral schools are key activities to further the uptake of OA among researchers.”

“The development of policies favourable to OA to research results requires new competences at both university and country levels. Universities should prepare themselves and plan for building expertise in the following areas: a) negotiations of ‘big deals’; b) legal matters (copyright, data protection); c) management of platforms (access, security, application development); d) management of research data; e) training of researchers, students and university staff in general.”

Research Data Management
“Institutions need to increase their capacity in the areas of research data management and Text and Data Mining (TDM) practices, including, in particular, articles and e-books: 
  • Establish an institutional policy with clear guidelines for the management of research data (validation, preservation, curation, availability), adopting the set of guiding principles to make data Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Re-usable (FAIR) and make them part of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC). 
  • Make metadata publicly available when data must be closed due to its nature or for reasons of confidentiality or security. 
  • Develop institutional capacity in the field of research data management (e.g. improving technical and legal expertise, developing skills in data management and in TDM. 
  • Provide legal advice, training and incentives for researchers to deposit their data and develop TDM practices.   


Negotiations of ‘big deals’ with publishers

“The negotiation of ‘big deal’ contracts should include provisions for protecting institutions’ current and future interests, in terms of overall costs and possibility to use and re-use information.”

Research assessment systems

“Research assessment systems need to evolve to recognise a variety of approaches and activities in open science, and reliance on the impact factor of journals should be reduced. Researchers from all scientific fields should obtain appropriate recognition for their open access and open science practices. European universities and their leaders must promote and support an evolution of the current assessment systems, while safeguarding the career perspectives of researchers.”

“In research assessment, quantitative metrics (e.g. number of publications, journal impact factors) should not replace a meaningful, qualitative evaluation of an individual’s work. In the transition to an open publishing system, research assessment processes could, for example, include incentives for open access publishing and reward article quality per se, irrespective of the chosen journal’s impact factor. This recognition should be reflected in the evaluation of research funding proposals, as well as in the assessment of research activities and outcomes. In addition, activities such as reviewing, evaluating, curating and managing research data, as well as sharing data and developing open resources, should be explicitly and directly acknowledged in the framework of researchers’ evaluation.”

Science Europe logo

New approaches to research assessment have also been addressed in the “New Vision for More Meaningful Research Impact Assessment” - Science Europe Position Statement released in July 2017  Science Europe is a non-profit organisation representing major Research Funding and Research Performing Organisations across Europe.

“The value of research can take many forms and can be found everywhere: from technological breakthroughs and practical applications to intangible cultural value and education; from political, social, economic, and environmental changes to intrinsic value that society attributes to knowledge itself.”

The documents suggests six key principles and actions for rethinking the pathways to impact and societal value of research.

Key Principles

1. No impact assessment practice can ever fully capture the value of research.

2. Different pathways connect research to its practical applications.

3. A too narrow notion of impact can lead to misinformed decisions and risks undermining research independence.

4. There needs to be methodological diversity for correct assessment of research impact.

5. Trust between research and society reinforces the potential for societal impact of research itself.

6. The creation of knowledge that broadens the options available to society (‘options value’) should be taken into account in impact assessment.

The Actions

“To move forward with shared strategies and responsibilities between research organisations, policy makers, academics, and other stakeholders, decisions need to be taken towards a consistent framework to value the societal impact of research.”

“Research institutions should develop and bring forward a new vision of impact assessment to meet this objective. They should consider ways to support the following actions:

1. Help to include a broad notion of impact that incorporates the societal value of research in the practices and policies that will be implemented by research organisations, stakeholders, and policy makers in Europe.

2. Invest in understanding how impact processes vary across different environments where research activities or projects are conducted.

3. Adopt flexible approaches for dealing with impact assessment and ensure diversity of methodologies. Any impact assessment methodology should ensure that indicators used as part of an assessment that attempts to show causal links between the research and observable effects, are integrated into narratives and/or quantitative models.

4. Support a process of mutual trust between researchers and society. This includes facilitating close interaction between evaluators, researchers, policy makers, and research managers, as well as developing tools and incentives for researchers to reward their societal engagement.

5. Recognise the impact of international collaboration in research and promote it with appropriate strategies aimed to facilitate the participation of societal actors in this fundamental aspect of research.

6. Adopt meaningful strategies that emphasise the importance of knowledge creation and the wide spectrum of values and options that research brings to society. These should take into consideration the long-term effects of research in developing new impact-assessment policies and in promoting impact pathways.”