10 December 2015
The League of European Research Universities (LERU) has taken note of the agreement in principle which has been reached between the Dutch universities (VSNU) and Elsevier on open accessand subscriptions. It welcomes this agreement as a first modest step in the direction of introducing new business models for scholarly publishing.
According to the joint press release, the agreement gives academics at Dutch universities subscription access to Elsevier journals and allows them to publish Open Access in a selection of these journals. The Dutch universities aim to make 30% of their researchers’ publications Open Access by 2018 and this agreement should make it possible to get there. The agreement is also said to be in line with the objective of Sander Dekker, State Secretary at the Ministry for Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands, to transition Dutch scientific output towards an Open Access publishing model.
The way in which this agreement has been reached illustrates clearly the necessity of the Open Access campaign LERU launched several weeks ago: "Christmas is over". Nowadays, European universities pay publishers significant parts of their university budget. Millions of euro's. Money which is not directly spent on research and education, even though it is largely taxpayers´ money. As Harvard University already denounced in 2012, many large journal publishers have rendered the situation “fiscally unsustainable and academically restrictive”, with some journals costing as much as $40,000 per year (and publishers drawing profits of 35% or more). If one of the wealthiest universities in the world can no longer afford it, who can? It is easy to picture the struggle of European universities with tighter budgets. In addition to subscription costs, academic research funding is also significantly affected by “Article Processing Charges” (APCs), which come at an additional cost of €2000/article, on average, when making individual articles Gold Open Access. Some publishers are in this way even being paid twice for the same content ("double dipping").
"As I said before, Christmas is over", states Prof Kurt Deketelaere, Secretary-General LERU: "With this Dutch agreement on the table, I call upon the European Commission and the forthcoming Dutch EU Presidency to work with all stakeholders and bodies involved, to bring EU-wide sensible solutions to the fore. "In the era of Open Science, Open Access to publications is one of the cornerstones of the new research paradigm and business models must support this transition. It should be one of the principal objectives of Commissioner Carlos Moedas and the Dutch EU Presidency (January-June 2016) to ensure that this transition happens. Further developing the EU´s leadership in research and innovation largely depends on it. Finally, this agreement must also be a signal for university associations in other countries to come to similar, preferably even better, big deals with publishers in the near future. Hopefully the negotiations in the UK and Finland in 2016 can be inspired by this first, modest, step in The Netherlands.
With the statement "Moving Forwards on Open Access", LERU calls upon all universities, research institutes, research funders and researchers to sign this statement and give a clear signal towards the European Commission and the Dutch EU Presidency. Almost 8,000 people and institutions already signed up to the petition.