Last January 24th and 25th the Couperin open access study days took place. This year’s theme, “Generalize open access to research results”, was the focal point around which the conferences were structured. More than 20 speakers offered several solutions they had been testing or observing. There were conflicting points of view and discussions between the speakers and the audience were sometimes stormy. Yet everyone agrees on the need to be 100% in open access... Some felt the necessity to remind participants that, to achieve this goal, a national and even international cohesion must be implemented. And this may require the acceptance of the diversity of means that exist. A look back at these interesting discussions…
This article is a translation of "100% Open Access : un besoin de cohésion avant tout !". It was translated from French to English by Julia Troufflard.
On January 24th and 24th, the 5th Open Access Days (#jeoa13 on Twitter) took place, set up by the open access academic consortium of digital publications Couperin. This event has been organized every two years since the beginning of open access, ten years ago. But, according to the organizers, it had never gathered so many people. The interest of the various research stakeholders toward open access no longer needs to be proved. After this first phase of “evangelization”, the open access days show a will to organize in order to be more efficient, which is easier said than done.
Stevan Harnad, a pioneer of the open access movement, was present to remind us of its founding principles: that “scientific articles must be free, immediately accessible and always online”. He was also uncompromising regarding the number one aim, which is a 100% open access system for all scientific contents (articles, books, monographs). All agreed on the necessity to generalize open access. The different presentations suggested taking the example of successful experiments and, in this way, reflecting on the most adapted solutions. This idea, simple in theory, is far more difficult to implement due to the present diversity of models.
Today, open access is divided into two main approaches: “green open access”, or open archives, and “gold open access”, still called the “author-payer” model. (For further information, please consult our article, in French, Open Access: contexte et émergence). In France, open archives are mainly built around the HAL platform. A national policy has been in effect since 2008, in accordance with the BSN4 directives (specifications for a digital scientific library), in order to coordinate all the open archives around HAL. During the conference, Christine Berthaud (head of the CCSD – Center for Direct Scientific Communication) introduced the new measures applied. In 2012, another step was taken with the creation of a mixed service unit (UMS)2. HAL became the key, coordinating element between the various institutional archives of universities, grandes écoles, etc.
During these two days, those who spoke up the most in support of gold open access were our English neighbors. The Finch Report of July 2012 imposes the gold model for all publications publicly financed by the Research Councils UK, starting in 2013. Robert Kiley, head of digital services at the Wellcome Trust library and secretary of the team that published the report, explained the strategy that it would like to implement. However, the guidelines presented seemed somewhat unclear, for the moment.
The speakers were obviously in favor of green open access. Twitter was a convenient stage on which to highlight the sometimes heated discussions about the best solution to adopt, between green and gold open access.
Guédon après Harnad prend fermement position contre le modèle auteur-payeur #jeoa13
&mdash; Pierre Mounier (@piotrr70) 24 janvier 2013
[Guédon, after Harnad, takes a firm stand against the author-payer model #jeoa13]
&mdash; UKRepNet (@UKRepNet) 24 janvier 2013
In order to enrich these firmly held points of view, other models were mentioned, such as platinum open access. This system would offer a hybrid system, similar to the Freemium version found in the music and video sectors. Texts are open access for authors and readers, but there are additional services that are commercialized. This is the case for the journals of Open Edition. Geneviève Fioraso, French Minister of Research, mentioned this new kind of open access in her presentation, conveniently avoiding taking a position.
&mdash; MyScienceWork (@MyScienceWork) 24 janvier 2013
The last solution mentioned was that of epijournals, launched a few weeks earlier by mathematicians and IT engineers, among others. These are open access journals, consisting of articles from open archives that were never published elsewhere. A journal’s editorial committee would gather to provide a scientific guarantee to each approved article. The platform is eagerly awaited. The mathematicians will start things off with Episciences-Maths.
&mdash; Stéphane Pouyllau (@spouyllau) 24 janvier 2013
This diversity of models and opinions shows the present difficulties in determining what the best solution will be to overcome this complicated period of transition to “100% OA”. Many pointed out and the presentations highlighted the fact that what is mainly needed today is cohesion and coordination, not only at the national level, but also at the European and international levels.
In France, a budgetary coordination is also necessary. As Jean Claude Guédon underlined, first, the research budgets should be redefined and should include the costs of scientific communication. At the European and international levels, OPENAire and the new platform Medoanet are concrete examples of the efforts towards the coordination of open archives.
But first, there is one necessary condition for this coordination to succeed: the acceptance of the diversity of methods. Marin Dacos of CLEO (the Center for Open Electronic Publishing) expressed it perfectly: “We are seeking open access bibliodiversity, modeled on biodiversity”. The research ecosystem is complex and multidisciplinary. It is the linguistic diversity of places and ways of transmitting knowledge that needs to be recognized in order to achieve100% open access.
1 Academic consortium of digital publications
2 Administrative entity created by a contract between a university and a research institution
A special thanks to Malicia Rogue for her storifies.
For further information from MyScienceWork :
Our open access collection on MyScienceNews
The 2012 Open Access Week presentations
Our scoop.it list « Open access in science »