Earlier this year, IJPE readers were invited to sign the Petition to the European Commission for Guaranteed Public Access to Publicly-Funded Research Results. The petition attracted over 19,000 signatures, and was presented at a meeting in Brussels on February 25, 2007, to European Commissioner for Science and Research, Janez Potočnik. As Richard Poynder points out, many of the signatories will be hard to ignore. The Petition itself was created by 4 national research funding agencies, and SPARC Europe; the petition was signed by senior representatives of more than 1,000 education, research, and cultural organizations; research organizations; and thousands of researchers, academics, and librarians from across Europe and around the world.
Janez Potočnik,European Commissioner for Science and Research, in his Open ing Remarks to the February 15, 2007 Brussels meeting, referred to the petition and its over 19,000 signatories and talked about "the input this conference will produce for the future policy on scientific publishing in the European Research Area.
Vivian Reding, in her Closing Address at the Brussels meeting, talks about loss of access to information as the reason for slipping into the Dark Ages, in a talk that very much supports open access in principle. Librarians may be interested to note that Vivian also highlights the need for preservation. Some important interim steps are announced, particularly significant funding for infrastructure relating to open access (repositories, preservation). Researchers will be able to make use of grant funds to pay for article processing fees of open access publishers, a welcome move, in my opinion, that will help to advance the transition to open access. Moral support is offered for experimentation towards open access, and movement away from the polarization of debates surrounding open access is encouraged.
In summary, while many of us would have loved to have seen an open access mandate announced at Brussels, policy development will take a little longer. On reflection, it is not surprising that an organization with as broad a portfolio as the European Commission, did not come to the meeting with the strong mandate policy warranted by the Petition which was only presented AT the meeting.
As usual, Peter Suber provides a succinct overview and well-written comments, in the March 2007 SPARC Open Access Newsletter. Thanks for the links, Peter!
Freelance journalist Richard Poynder has written an in-depth analysis, Open Access: the War in Europe. Poynder's article (full version, page 8) includes a great summary of the Petition for Guaranteed Public Access to Publicly-Funded Research Results.
Any opinion expressed in this post is that of the author alone, and does not reflect the opinion or policy of BC Electronic Library Network or Simon Fraser University Library.