SURF: 2009 is Open Access year: Tackling restricted access to higher education research results
Utrecht, 26 February 2009 - The Dutch higher education sector has declared 2009 to be 'Open Access Year'. The aim is to boost Open Access to the results of scientific/scholarly and practice-based research. Efforts will be made throughout the year to formulate and implement an Open Access policy, develop and improve the knowledge infrastructure, establish a clear legal framework, and create awareness with all stakeholders. The parties involved are the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), the Dutch higher education sector, and research institutions. SURF will act as the coordinator.
The Netherlands is one of the world leaders in achieving Open Access. The research universities and a large number of universities of applied sciences have created a knowledge infrastructure making possible permanent Open Access to publications. NARCIS, the national "gateway to Dutch scientific information", provides access to the full text of almost 170,000 scientific and scholarly publications. The Knowledge Bank for Universities of Applied Sciences [HBO Kennisbank] gives access to the results of research by 'lectors' (directors of research groups and knowledge networks in Universities of Applied Science). Extensive information is also available about copyright in higher education, as well as a 'copyright toolbox' for authors and publishers. But there is still a lot to be done.
Dutch higher education institutions believe that radical improvements need to be made in Open Access to knowledge, information, and data. Compared to the 'age of paper', digitisation of research and scientific/scholarly communication opens up opportunities that are still underutilised. Improved access creates a solid basis for the transfer of knowledge in education, knowledge generation for research, and knowledge valorisation for civil society. The central idea is that the results of publicly financed research should also be available to the public.
Dr Sijbolt Noorda, chairman of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU), says that "It's in the interests of scientists and scholars for their publications to be digitally available for anyone in the world. It's in the interest of the general public too. Material that's been paid for out of our taxes can then be accessed and used by everyone."
Researchers and lectors need to be able to utilise all the new possibilities for scientific and scholarly communication opened up by the Internet and ICT. Authors are more 'visible' if their work is available on the Internet, and they have more readers than if they publish in the traditional journals only. The greatly increased cost of subscribing to the traditional journals means that university libraries and media centres can afford fewer and fewer of them. Moreover, scientific and scholarly publications increasingly consist of more than just text: primary research data and multimedia files are included, with audiovisual files and games being used to help present the research data. Constant development and improvement of the knowledge infrastructure is therefore necessary.
Information about copyright is also necessary because there are a lot of misunderstandings about Open Access and copyright. Complete transfer of copyright to a publisher, for example, may be an obstacle to the author's further use of the publication. This often means that the author is not even allowed to upload the work to his/her own personal website or to that of his/her knowledge network. Some publishers are prepared to arrange licences that do not require the exclusive transfer of copyright, but this is the common case yet.
Dr Noorda points out that five years ago the Netherlands was one of the pioneers in the field of Open Access "but since then all the other neighbouring countries have tackled it too. It's important for us to remain one of the leaders and really make progress."
Apart from Dr Noorda, various other administrators, university professors, and university deans have given their views on Open Access in a short film commissioned by SURF. The film can be viewed on a number of websites and on YouTube.
You can find this message also on the SURF website.
Last updated: 13-Dec-2013