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It has been a while … one of the reasons that I lack time to write a blogpost is that I am (roughly) spending 2 full days per week on Open Access meetings, discussions and issues, next to the normal day-to-day business. All that work can be tracked down to the letter that our State Secretary Sander Dekker issued just over one year ago, in The Netherlands (English version).

The reason to take time to write now is that I just spent a day and a half in London, at the PASTEUR4OA meeting, where the Key Nodes of the Member States of the EU gathered, to discuss how they can work together to promote open access policy alignment in Europe.  The idea is that we will form a network of expert centres that will help each other and work as a national liaison to the policy makers, for advice, exchange and implementation. I will not expand too much on this project or meeting, because results will of course be shared via the project website.

One deliverable of the project is an overview of current policies including a check whether they are compliant with the H2020 recommendation and an analysis what elements in these policies are the most effective ones. Perhaps most striking effective element was (and Bernard Rentier was present to explain this) in the mandate at the University of Liège. As Rentier phrased it: “Only publications in our repository are taken into account for internal evaluation”.

We could not leave the meeting without knowing what H2020 says on Open Access. To recap:

–          Open access is mandatory for peer-reviewed publications

–          Green open access is the “must”

–          Grant holders are allowed to pay in gold open access

–          Monographs are not mentioned, and

–          Open data pilots are encouraged.

PASTEUR4OA will also be organizing policy meetings in the five EU regions they have created, two per region, one will focus on funding bodies, and one will focus on (research) institutional managers.

One of the advantages of spending some time with a rather small group of people involved in a common theme, is that you may encounter new people or new insights. There is also a disadvantage of having a common theme and a small group, and that is that people all know each other, and will not be able to find new insights or meet new people. At least for me that was, fortunately, not the case.

openaccesshero

Picture by Melanie Imming. Her tweet on 3 December 2014: “We need #openaccess heros 🙂 One geeky one I created a while ago to help #digitalpreservation girl.”

At the evening of our dinner, I ended up talking with Keith Jeffery and Melanie Imming. Keith asked me what I “had with Open Access”. And it struck me that – strangely – the question surprised me and I had to think a bit about this. Yes, of course there are the obvious arguments that a research institution is doing all the work (writing, reviewing and/or editing) and needs “quite a bit of” money to get access to their own work, and that this access is often limited to only a selected group that is able to pay for access. But what about me, why do I spend so much time on the Open Access issue?

I can explain this by referring to what our own rector Karel Luyben from Delft is saying: “..TU Delft is dedicated in making a significant contribution to finding responsible solutions to societal problems, at both a national and international level. Our mission is to deliver Science to Society. Open Science is an important way to spread our mission around the world.”

As TU Delft Library we are convinced that you (as researcher, student, teacher, but perhaps that this is a generic rule) will perform better if you use knowledge created by others and share your own. So knowledge should flow freely. Of course there are some prerequisites to be able to do this, e.g. the protection of intellectual property (dealt with in the creative commons licenses) or a sustainable infrastructure (via publishers, or via institutional repositories).

Anyway, that brings me to the other reason Open Access is a big chapter for me and my library director colleagues in The Netherlands. We are implementing what our State Secretary asked us to do last year:

“The agreements in 2014 should be based on the premise that publishers will make all their journals open access or that they are prepared to negotiate arrangements to offset article publishing charges with licensing fees in order to avoid double payment. Researchers should continue to have worldwide access to research publications.”

And so that is what we are committed to do, see the recent press releases on the negotiations with Elsevier and Springer. And we will need to make sure, together with the VSNU, that we keep things manageable, sustainable, and most preferably accessible for our researchers. Exciting times!

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