European Panel Endorses Broad Open-Access Policy for Research

April 19, 2006

The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, has issued a report that recommends open access to all publicly financed research, according to an article today in The Guardian.

The report calls for a “guarantee” of open access. It recommends creating that guarantee by having researchers put copies of published articles in online archives that are free to all. Such a step would be stronger than the one taken nearly a year ago by the National Institutes of Health, which merely requested that its grantees put copies of their published articles in the agency’s own online repository, PubMed Central (The Chronicle, February 4, 2005).

Open-access advocates, including Peter Suber, director of the Open Access Project at Public Knowledge, a nonprofit group that advocates the free flow of information, hope the report will spur national governments—or even all of Europe—to make such public archiving mandatory. (Mr. Suber has blogged about the report here. ) But scientific publishers fear that if research papers are free on the Web, readers may stop paying for subscriptions (The Chronicle, January 30, 2004).