If you read an earlier post of mine about Elsevier’s updated letter to the mathematical community then you may remember that towards the end of the post I claimed that Elsevier was lobbying heavily to have all mention of open access removed from the documents of Horizon 2020, Europe’s “Framework Programme for Research and Innovation”, a claim that was then denied by Alicia Wise, who is Elsevier’s “Director of Universal Access”.
Leaving aside who is right about this (which may depend rather sensitively on the precise words used to describe what happened, not to mention the interpretation of those words), news has broken today in the THE of potentially important developments. It seems that whatever lobbying Elsevier might have gone in for has been to no avail, because open access will be a very significant aspect of Horizon 2020.
Why is this potentially big news? Well, first of all it comes hard on the heels of the Wellcome Trust’s announcement that it would insist on open access for the research it funds, Harvard University Library’s statement that the current system is unsustainable, the British Government’s announcement that it has plans to make all taxpayer-funded research available online, the decision by TU Munich’s mathematics department to cancel subscriptions to all its Elsevier journals, and an apparently serious suggestion that future rounds of Britain’s Research Excellence Framework will favour open access papers. There seems to be a definite trend here.
But what also makes it important is the sheer amount of money involved in Horizon 2020. Their budget for the years between 2014 and 2020 is 80 billion Euros. I don’t know what percentage of the world’s scientific papers will be affected by their open access policy (or even what precisely the policy will be, but what some people are reported as saying in the THE article is very promising), but even if it is something small like 2%, there will still be increased pressure to provide the publishing models in which all that research can be published, which will help to speed up the abandonment of the current models that Harvard and TU Munich describe as unsustainable. (It’s amusing that everybody describes what they like as sustainable and what they dislike as unsustainable. I think Elsevier’s prices are sustainable, but that we’d be much better off not sustaining them.)
Could FRPAA be next?