Academy presents Opening the book on open access – What researchers think

4 April 2016

Open science is one of the main themes of the Dutch Presidency of the European Union. The discussion concerning open access to research publications and research data has so far taken little account of the opinions of researchers. It is for that reason that the Academy today presented Opening the book on open access, a collection of interviews with 21 researchers – young and old and active across disciplines – who speak out about this subject.

‘Open science’ means having unfettered access to scientific publications and research data. Today and tomorrow will see the Open Science Conference take place in Amsterdam. Academy President José van Dijck is one of the speakers. She will present the first copies of the publication Opening the book on open access to European Commissioner Carlos Moedas and Dutch State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science Sander Dekker. In her lecture, José van Dijck will explain the value of scientific publications and research data: ‘Taken as a whole, all these publications stand for the advanced knowledge on which our societies have been built. Our future depends on them.’

The demand for unlimited access to research publications has grown considerably in recent years, a phenomenon that stems from the rapid rise of ICT, the fact that more and more people today receive a good education, and our growing awareness of the importance of science for society. Much of the demand for open access comes from those outside the research community, ranging from enterprises that perceive market opportunities to pupils and other interested laypersons. Science funding bodies, in turn, increasingly demand open access to the publications that they finance, and publishers are being forced to re-examine their revenue models. All this has led to fierce debate – and negotiations – in recent years.

What researchers think

One of the oddities of the open access debate is that it is being waged mainly by administrators, librarians, public servants and publishers. But what do researchers themselves think? Is the destination in fact so straightforward, and is the path leading to it well lit? As the ‘voice of science’, the Academy has asked a wide-ranging group of younger and older researchers working across disciplines what they think. The picture that emerges from the 21 interviews is in fact extremely diverse. Although none of the interviewees questions the importance of top-quality research, they do not see open access as a means of promoting that quality; indeed, it is even an impediment at times. High time for an informed opinion.

Background

Twenty-one researchers contributed to this book. Twenty are affiliated with the Academy, either because they are members of the Society or The Young Academy or because they work for an Academy institute.

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