May 23, 2023May 23, 2023 Administrator
The Council has adopted on May 23, 2023 someCouncil conclusions on high-quality, transparent, open, trustworthy and fair scientific publications, in which he calls for immediate and unrestricted open access in the publication of research involving public funds.
The dangers of scholarly publishing
Scientific articles and other forms of scholarly publication remain the primary means of disseminating research results and scientific discoveries. However, far from every article is available to other researchers or other interested readers. The paywall costs to access and publish articles are becoming unsustainable and the publishing channels for researchers are often in the hands of private companies, which often control the intellectual property of the articles. Peer review of articles is essential to ensure article quality control, but this process presents challenges such as increased submissions and reviewer fatigue. There is also a problem with predatory and questionable editorial practices.
In its conclusions, the Council calls on the Commission and the Member States to support policies towards a non-profit, open access and multi-format scholarly publishing model, at no cost to authors or readers. Some Member States have introduced secondary publication rights into their national copyright law, allowing open access to scholarly publications involving public funds. The Council encourages national open access policies and guidelines to make scholarly publications immediately accessible under open licences. The conclusions acknowledge positive developments in terms of monitoring progress, such as in the framework of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), and suggest including open science monitoring in the monitoring mechanism of the European Research Area.
Towards an open, equitable and sustainable scholarly publishing system
- RECALLS that academic publication in journals is currently the main academic medium for disseminating research results and new scientific knowledge; REITERATES that it is important to accelerate the transition towards open science in order to improve the quality, efficiency and impact of research, promoting transparency, accessibility, diversity, reuse, reproducibility and reliability of research results, that open access to scholarly journals, in particular their re-use, is one of the fundamental elements of an open science system, and that action is needed to ensure that scholarly journals support these goals;
- NOTES that the digital transition, while presenting its challenges, continues to provide opportunities for new methods of efficient and effective scholarly publishing, such as online publishing tools, repositories and platforms for a wide range of research outputs across the board, both national and European scale, but that much of the current system is based on business and operating models that have not yet fully harnessed the potential of digitization, in particular in relation to the growing variety of increasingly important research results, such as ensembles data, software and research protocols; and UNDERLINES the importance of investing in e-infrastructures and digital and innovative tools and capabilities;
- STRESSES that scholarly publishing should uphold the essential principles of academic freedom, research integrity and scientific excellence, as well as maximum accessibility and re-use of research results, while supporting research communities and their transdisciplinary collaboration, and UNDERLINES that scientific practices that guarantee reproducibility, transparency, exchange, rigor and collaboration are important means to achieve a publication system that responds to the challenges of democratic, modern and digitized societies; STRESSES that immediate and unrestricted open access should be the norm in publicly funded research publication, with prices that are transparent and proportional to publishing services and their costs should not be covered by individual authors or readers;
Support diversity and ensure equity in scholarly publishing
- NOTES that publishing practices vary from discipline to discipline, and STRESSES that some publication formats such as monographs, books and long text formats should continue to be supported, especially in the social sciences and humanities, while while promoting open access publishing and allowing the coexistence of a wide range of formats, as well as publication in a number of languages;
- NOTES that the current scholarly publishing system is managed by various organizations, both for-profit and not-for-profit, and RECOGNIZES with concern that increased payment barriers to access scientific journals and for scholarly publishing lead to inequalities and it is becoming unsustainable for public research funders and institutions responsible for the use of public funds, reducing the funding available for research;
- HIGHLIGHTS the importance of non-profit open access scholarly publishing models, which do not charge fees to authors or readers and in which authors can publish their work without eligibility criteria being applied in terms of funding or institutional; TAKES NOTE of the variety of models that do not rely on article processing fees or similar unit rates, and STRESSES the importance of supporting the development of these models led by public research bodies;
- STRESSES that it is essential to avoid situations where researchers are constrained in their choice of publication channels by financial capabilities rather than quality criteria, and where access to research publications is limited by payment barriers ; WELCOMES coordination within the EU and with global partners to support equity in scholarly publishing, taking into account the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science;
Enhance trust and ensure high quality, transparency and integrity in scholarly publishing
- UNDERLINES that academic freedom encompasses the right to freely define research questions, choose and develop theories, collect empirical material, employ academic research methods, challenge popular opinion and present new ideas, and implies the right to share, disseminate and publish their results, including through training and teaching, and EMPHASIZES that any restriction of these practices constitutes a threat to academic freedom and research integrity;
- STRESSES that rigorous peer review must remain essential for scholarly publishing: researchers must take responsibility for peer review and offer expert advice to editorial boards, ensuring scientific standards, validity and quality of research ; STRESSES that peer review should continue to build and maintain research integrity and trust in science, including by retracting invalid publications; RECOGNIZES that the peer review system currently faces several challenges, such as the increasing number of submissions and "reviewer fatigue"; UNDERLINES the need to promote transparency through open peer review practices, and to recognize and reward researchers for peer review;
- STRESSES that reproducibility is a key characteristic of research quality that is closely related to the transparency and integrity of research, and that lack of reproducibility can have negative effects on scientific progress and confidence in science;
- ENCOURAGES Member States and the Commission to step up support for the development of harmonized institutional and funding policies and strategies for non-profit open access scholarly publishing models in multiple formats in Europe, free of charge for authors or readers, and to establish and apply roadmaps or action plans for a significant expansion of said publication models;
- WELCOMES the introduction of secondary publication rights by several Member States in their national copyright law, allowing open access to scholarly publications involving public funding; ENCOURAGES the Commission, in the context of ERA Action 2 defined in the ERA 2022-2024 action targets, to examine and propose measures at EU level to remove barriers to access and re-use of research results publicly funded research, as well as publications and data for research purposes, while ensuring the consent of the author; INVITES Member States to update their national open access policies and guidelines to make scholarly publications immediately openly accessible under open licenses and to apply the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable) principles to research data. and reusable) and the principle "as open as possible and as closed as necessary", taking into account the OECD Recommendation on access to data from publicly funded research;
- STRESSES that there is a need for a change in the research culture that recognizes diverse research activities, with the overall aim of maximizing high quality and impact of research; WELCOMES, in this regard, the activities of the Coalition for the Advancement of Research Evaluation (CoARA); and ENCOURAGES a close dialogue between stakeholders, Member States, the Commission and partner countries in research evaluation reform, in coordination with global partners;
- NOTES that the lack of reliable data and information on the status of scholarly publishing, including costs and bibliometric data, hampers progress in the development, implementation and evaluation of open access policies and weakens the position of Member States and research organizations in negotiations with commercial publishers; TAKES NOTE of the ongoing progress towards monitoring progress towards open science in the framework of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), based on national monitoring and common qualitative and quantitative indicators; ENCOURAGES Member States and the Commission to accelerate such progress and reduce the fragmentation of monitoring efforts by including open science monitoring in the ERA monitoring mechanism, and to strive to ensure that monitoring data abide by the FAIR principles;
Capacities: infrastructures and skills
- CONTINUES to encourage Member States to support the management of Open Research Europe as a large-scale, non-profit, collective open access research publishing service for the public good, and to promote and support other thematic publishing platforms and models specific and national non-profit and open access publishing services that offer high-quality publishing services to researchers and, where possible and appropriate, are connected at European level to increase capacity, efficiency, usability and cost effectiveness;
- ENCOURAGES Member States and the Commission to invest in and promote interoperable not-for-profit publishing infrastructures based on open source software and open standards in order to avoid a dependency on services and systems owners, and to connect these infrastructures to the European Open Science Cloud;
- ENCOURAGES Member States and the Commission to develop mutual learning exercises on peer review, covering principles and practices, how to promote transparency and how to recognize and reward peer review activities in the evaluation of the researchers;
- ENCOURAGES Member States and the Commission to take action to promote institutional capacity building and increase researchers' knowledge of intellectual property rights and their value, including the consequences of copyright transfers to publishers and the importance of strategic management of researchers' intellectual property in facilitating immediate and unrestricted open access to scientific publications;
- INVITES Member States and the Commission to align their open access and open science policies and recommendations with the Pact for Research and Innovation in Europe8 and the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity of the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities, and STRESSES that, to this end, it is essential to develop training and materials that support researchers in their efforts to apply the principles of open science, while ensuring that high standards of research integrity are met;
- INVITES Member States, in collaboration with the Commission, to systematically address the issue of predatory publishing and to promote and support training on responsible, open and ethical publishing practices for students and researchers at all stages of their thus equipping them with the skills and competencies they need, as well as ensuring adequate training and awareness about predatory, questionable, misleading and low-quality publication practices and their negative effects on the reliability of research.
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