EU set to embrace open access research and rein in scientific publishings ‘racket’


The EU is set to rein in the “racket” of scientific publishing by backing open access to publicly-funded research papers.

The proposals, first reported by Research Professional News, emerged in a new document from the Council of the EU.

In draft conclusions due to be adopted later this month, the council called for open access to be the default in scholarly publishing. It also wants to end the controversial practice of charging fees to authors.

“Immediate and unrestricted open access should be the norm in publishing research involving public funds, with transparent pricing commensurate with the publication services and where costs are not covered by individual authors or readers,” reads the text.

The position has been agreed “at technical level,” according to the document. They will now be submitted for approval by research ministers at a 23 May 2023 meeting.

Publicly funded research should be publicly available for free.

The EU’s move could have sweeping implications for a divisive industry. Academic publishers can charge thousands of euros to access single articles — despite the papers being based on taxpayer-funded research. Furthermore, the study author often has to pay the publisher to issue the paper.

The EU’s proposals could upend this staggeringly profitable business model. Unsurprisingly, tech entrepreneurs that harness research have welcomed the move.

“I don’t know why it took so long to rein in the scientific publishings racket, but it looks like the EU is finally making it happen,” tweeted Mikko Alasaarela, a serial startup founder based in Helsinki. “Publicly funded research should be publicly available for free. It is finally becoming a reality!”

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