Open-access scientific literature is a hot topic that has been brought into the spotlight again recently, thanks to the current Dutch presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU). A 12-step ‘Amsterdam Call to Action’, the culmination of a 2-day conference entitled ‘Open Science – from vision to action’ hosted by the Netherlands’ EU presidency in April 2016, has the ambitious target of ensuring that all new scientific papers published in the EU are freely available by 2020.
In a recent Science magazine article, Martin Enserink reports that the Dutch presidency, which runs until 30 June 2016, is making use of its term to prioritise the development of open-access literature within the EU. A number of institutions in the Netherlands, including the government, a key research funding agency and the Association of Universities, as well as international publishers, have all taken significant steps to promote open access within the country and the presidency has now set its sights on convincing the other 27 EU member states of the value of such endeavours.
The EU project is already gathering meaningful momentum. With support from the European Commissioner for Research, Science, and Innovation, commentators such as the Max Planck Digital Library are describing this as a movement towards European open access “that we have not seen before”. The project still has some hurdles to overcome though, including debates regarding gold vs green open access (authors making a payment to publishers to provide open access vs authors adding their paper to a public repository themselves). Another controversial proposal is the suggestion that authors make pre-peer review versions of their papers freely available online. The next test of members’ commitment to the initiative will be when the EU meets to discuss the 2020 open access plans, and other data sharing measures, in May 2016.