|Brussels, 20 August 2008
Fast and reliable access to research results, especially via the Internet, can drive innovation, advance scientific discovery and support the development of a strong knowledge-based economy. The European Commission wants to ensure that the results of the research it funds under the EU's 7th Research Framework Programme (FP7) with more than € 50 billion from 2007 - 2013 are disseminated as widely and effectively as possible to guarantee maximum exploitation and impact in the world of researchers and beyond. The Commission today launched a pilot project that will give unrestricted online access to EU-funded research results, primarily research articles published in peer reviewed journals, after an embargo period of between 6 and 12 months. The pilot will cover around 20% of the FP7 programme budget in areas such as health, energy, environment, social sciences and information and communication technologies.
"Easy and free access to the latest knowledge in strategic areas is crucial for EU research competitiveness. This open access pilot is an important step towards achieving the 'fifth freedom', the free movement of knowledge amongst Member States, researchers, industry and the public at large," said EU Commissioner for Science and Research Janez Potočnik. "Beyond, it is a fair return to the public of research that is funded by EU money."
"The rapid development of digital technologies offers researchers unprecedented possibilities for the timely and efficient sharing of information. Our new pilot will harness that potential, making it easier for researchers, businesses and policy makers to address global challenges like climate change by providing them with access to the latest research," said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media. "I welcome especially the fact that scientific publishers have started to move gradually towards new dissemination models and are collaborating with researchers on open access. They have given valuable input to the Commission on these areas, which has been used in the preparation of the pilot project. This will allow a mutually beneficial coexistence that maximises the effects of open access on publicly funded research while leaving room for privately financed business models in publishing."
The Commission's open access pilot, to run until the end of FP7, aims to ensure that the results from EU-funded research are progressively made available to all. Grant recipients will be required to deposit peer reviewed research articles or final manuscripts resulting from their FP7 projects in an online repository. They will have to make their best effort to ensure open access to these articles within either six or twelve months after publication, depending on the research area. This embargo period will allow scientific publishers to get a return on their investment.
Open access to research articles, previously accessible through journal subscriptions, can help to increase the impact of the EU's € 50 billion investment in research and development and avoid wasting time and valuable resources on duplicative research. With access to a wider selection of literature, researchers can build upon this knowledge to further their own work. Small and medium sized businesses and entrepreneurs can also benefit from improved access to the latest research developments to speed up commercialisation and innovation.
The open access pilot launched today was foreseen in the European Commission's February 2007 Communication on 'Scientific information in the digital age: access, dissemination and preservation' (IP/07/190). In reaction to this Communication, the November 2007 Council of EU research ministers invited the Commission to experiment with open access in FP7.
Since 2006, the Commission has organised extensive consultations with stakeholders on open access policies, including a high level stakeholder conference, attracting some 500 participants, in February 2007.
Many national funding bodies, for example the Wellcome Trust in the UK or the National Institutes of Health in the USA already have open access rules. The European Research Council's Scientific Council adopted its Guidelines for Open Access in December 2007.
Details are available in MEMO/08/548
Link to the full text of the Decision:
Details on the open access pilot will be available by 01.09.2008 at: