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EC policies and mandates

... on Open Access to publications and research data,  FAIR data

  • Why OA?

    There are significant economic, social and educational benefits to making research outputs available to access without financial, legal and technical barriers. Open Access (OA) incorporates national research into an interoperable network of global knowledge, increases national research impact, provides new research partnerships, and removes professional isolation.

    Society as a whole benefits because:
    1. Research is more efficient and more effective
    2. OA delivers better and faster outcomes for all
    3. OA strengthens economies through developing a strong and independent national science base

    There is growing evidence that countries also benefit because OA increases the impact of the research in which they invest public money and therefore, there is a better return on investment.

  • European perspective

    The European Commission recognises the above. Its objective therefore is to optimise the impact of publicly-funded scientific research, both at European (FP7, Horizon 2020) and Member State level. OA is one of the tools to enhance Europe's economic performance and improve the capacity to compete through knowledge. Results of publicly-funded research should be disseminated more broadly and faster, for the benefit of researchers, innovative industry and citizens. OA also boosts the visibility of European research, and in particular, offers access to the latest research for utilisation to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

    The Commission’s strategy is to develop and implement OA to research results from projects funded by the EU Research Framework Programmes, namely FP7 and Horizon 2020.

    Read more about OA in Horizon 2020 and how OpenAIRE assists and implements OA and Open Science in Horizon 2020 to a variety of stakeholder groups (OpenAIRE factsheets can be found here).

  • Recommendations to MS

    The European Commission Recommended to all Member States in July 2012 the following:

    “Policies on OA to scientific research results should apply to all research that receives public funds. Such policies are expected to improve conditions for conducting research by reducing duplication of efforts and by minimising the time spent searching for information and accessing it. This will speed up scientific progress and make it easier to cooperate across and beyond the EU. Such policies will also respond to calls within the scientific community for greater access to scientific information.”

    It also promotes OA as “a key feature of Member States’ policies for responsible research and innovation” and recommends to Member States to develop their policies on OA to scientific publications. In addition, the Recommendation covered OA to scientific research data that “helps to enhance data quality, reduces the need for duplication of research, speeds up scientific progress and helps to combat scientific fraud.”

    The Commission encourages a multi-stakeholder dialogue at national, European and international level on how to foster OA to and preservation of scientific information. In this context, some of the areas it is looking at are:

    • ways of linking publications to the underlying data;
    • ways of improving access and keeping costs under control, e.g. through joint negotiations with publishers;
    • new research indicators and bibliometrics encompassing not only scientific publications, but also datasets and other types of output from research activity and the individual researcher’s performance;
    • new reward systems and structures;
    • the promotion of OA principles and implementation at international level, especially in the context of bilateral, multilateral and international cooperation initiatives.

    Member states governments have begun to take an interest in OA out of a desire to ensure that the research they fund reaches the largest possible audience, as well as, out of recognising the waste of public resources, resulting from the old system in which taxpayers pay twice for a single service; once for research and a second time for access to its results. For the past years, several projects were initiated and tools were developed to record funders’ and institutions’ OA and Research Data Management policies to ensure that compliance issues are met by all researchers.

    Among these projects and tools are:

    • MELIBEA: A directory of institutional OA policies lists academic/research institutions and funders’ mandates requiring researchers to open/deposit/share their publicly funded research outputs.
    • SHERPA JULIET lists research funders’ OA policies.
    • ROARMAP: Registry of OA Repository Mandates and Policies lists funder and research organizations mandates across the world.
  • EC's digital agenda

    In its final report “Riding the wave: How Europe can gain from the rising tide of scientific data” in October 2010, the High Level Expert Group on Scientific Data emphasised the critical importance of sharing and preserving reliable data produced during the scientific process. The Commission considers urgent policy action on access to data and “recommends it to Member States.” In October 2013, a “Report of the European Commission - Public Consultation on Open Research Data” was released with some recommendations to the way forward and which have also been reflected in Horizon 2020 OA policies.

  • EU associations: Science Europe

  • EU associations: EUA

    The European University Association (EUA) – the representative organisation of universities and national rectors’ conferences in 47 European countries – has recently published a Statement on Open Science to EU Institutions and National Governments welcoming the efforts of National Governments and the European Commission in promoting Open Science values in their national research funding schemes and in the EU Research and Innovation Framework Programme.

    This statement follows the previous recommendations EUA provided to its members Towards Full Open Access in 2020: Aims and recommendations for university leaders and National Rectors’ Conferences and Towards Open Access to Research Data and highlights the role of the OpenAIRE platform in the adoption of good research, sharing and assessment practices: “In particular, EUA strongly supports EU policies such as Open access to publications and research data, EU-wide open science platforms such as OpenAIRE, and the upcoming creation of the European Open Science Cloud (…)”.
    The document includes key messages addressed to EU institutions and national governments, covering different areas, from Open Science policies development to the researchers’ engagement with OA, research assessment approaches, the creation of infrastructures and the establishment of necessary legislation on use and re-use of research publications and data, including text and data mining.

    The EUA has also set up an Expert Group on Science 2.0/Open Science to continue developments in this area.

    A study funded by the Commission suggested that OA was reaching the tipping point, with around 50% of scientific papers published in 2011 available for free (as of August 2013): “The tipping point for open access (more than 50% of the papers available for free) has been reached in several countries, including Brazil, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the US, as well as in biomedical research, biology, and mathematics and statistics.”
    A follow-up report, “Open access availability of scientific publications” published in January 2018 states the following:  “The vast majority of the large scholarly publishing countries have more than 50% of their articles published from 2010 to 2014 freely available for download in gold and/or green gratis OA. Examining the availability of articles by domains of scholarly activity shows that health sciences has the most articles available for free (at least 59% of the articles published in 2014 could be read for free in 2016), followed by the natural sciences (55%), applied sciences (47%), economic and social sciences (44%), and arts and humanities (24%).”

  • How to design an effective OA policy

    Make sure your OA policy is aligned with the European Commission's Horizon 2020 Multi-beneficiary General Model Grant Agreement - use the PASTEUR4OA Open Access Policy Alignment Checklist (also available in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Slovak and Turkish).

    The Commission-funded project PASTEUR4OA (short for OA Policy Alignment Strategies for European Union Research) has developed a set of useful resources: And the How Open is Your Research? questionnaire has been designed to enable institutions to assess the openness of their research and teaching; and researchers’ awareness of openness and availability of institutional support. The questionnaire covers adherence to policy and strategy, teaching, and different aspects of undertaking and disseminating scholarly and scientific research.Need more information? You could also check out the following guides:

OA to publications in H2020

Open access to scientific peer reviewed publications has been anchored as an underlying principle in the Horizon 2020 and is explained in the Regulation and the Rules of Participation as well as through the relevant provisions in the grant agreement (see Horizon 2020 Annotated Model Grant Agreement, 25 November 2016 with information about open access on the pages 221-228).

Related factsheets

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