EU report recommends open access to publicly funded scientific research

By EDRi · April 26, 2006

The EU report drafted by economists from Toulouse University and the Free
University of Brussels on the economic and technical evolution of scientific
publishing in Europe, published on 31 March 2006, recommends public access
to scientific research funded by the European taxpayer.

The report proposes the development of a European policy that would allow
researchers receiving EU funding to place copies of articles published in
subscription journals on web-based archives that can be accessed by everyone
for free. It also expressed the need to “specify standards that will insure
that the archives are [accessible], interoperable, and have cross-searching
facilities. In addition, set up a general European archive for researchers
with access to a subject-based or institutional archive.”

Among many other recommendations, the report suggests the development of
electronic publications through the elimination of the “unfavorable tax
treatment of electronic publications” by reducing the VAT rate or by
introducing a tax refund. It is considered that the “higher rate applied to
electronic delivery of information in Europe strongly affects European
research institutions, especially when compared to other countries where
electronic services are exempt from tax.” The authors also believe that
public funding and public-private partnerships should be formed to create
journal digital archives in areas such as social sciences and humanities
when there is little commercial interest.

This is a serious blow for traditional publishers of scientific journals who
are worried that subscriptions will drop. According to the report, the price
of scientific journals increased 300% more than the inflation rate during
the last 10 years, which put a limitation to the dissemination of knowledge
and scientific progress.

Janez Potocnik, European Science and Research Commissioner stated: “It is in
all our interests to find a model for scientific publication that serves
research excellence. We are ready to work with readers, authors, publishers,
and funding bodies to develop such a model.”

The European Commission waits for reactions and comments to the report as
well as other contributions related to scientific publications until June

Study of the economic and technical evolution of the scientific publication
markets in Europe (31.03.2006)

Brussels delivers blow to Reed Elsevier (19.04.2006),,1756426,00.html

European Commission Releases Key Scientific Publishing Report (10.04.2006)