Horizon 2020 to promote open access

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?

8 Responses to “Horizon 2020 to promote open access”

  1. Gordon Royle Says:

    But what does “open access” mean in practice? If it means that the author pays directly to the journal (“page charges”) then I think that creates an enormous conflict-of-interest; indeed already there are several “journals” that appear to be pay-to-publish in the sense of “you pay, we publish”.

    • Sam Says:

      There are also journals which are open access and free to publish in. And when there is more and more incentive to publish open access, these journals will gain prestige as young researchers publish in them.

    • Gordon Royle Says:

      Yes there are some journals that are both open access and free to publish in – Electronic Journal of Combinatorics is one example in my own field. But there are only a handful of these journals and I don’t think they could cope if there was a significant switch of publication model and a vast flood of submissions. In addition, they provide little or none of the services (proof-reading, etc) that the “traditional publishers” do. As I see it, the challenge is to devise a system where these services can be provided at a reasonable cost; perhaps close to the actual cost of delivery or with a modest profit to be used for genuine development purposes. But definitely not on an “author pays” model. Something along the lines of the X biggest university libraries pay a fixed annual fee (adjusted for wealth of country etc.) to a not-for-profit organization that funds journals run by mathematical societies, universities etc. But the devil is in the detail.

    • Stevan Harnad (@AmSciForum) Says:


      The most widespread misunderstanding about Open Access (OA) is that OA just means OA journal publishing.

      OA journals make all their articles free for all online, often for a fee. This is called OA publishing (or “Gold OA”).

      But publishing in a Gold OA journal is not the only way for authors to provide OA to their articles, nor is it the surest or fastest way.

      The other way for authors to provide OA to their published articles is to publish in any suitable journal, and to self-archive the final, peer-reviewed draft in their institutional repositories immediately upon acceptance for publication, to make it free for all online. This is called OA self-archiving or “Green OA.”

      What the EU is currently mandating (requiring) for about 20% of the research it funds, and what it is now contemplating extending to 100% of the research it funds, is Green OA self-archiving, not Gold OA publishing.

      Conflating the two, and constantly using “OA” as if it meant only Gold OA is the single biggest factor retarding the growth, progress and understanding of OA.

  2. CIBER NewsLetter » Blog Archive » L’accesso aperto in Horizon 2020 Says:

    […] Vi consiglio, a complemento, la lettura di questo post di Tim Gowers https://gowers.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/horizon-2020-to-promote-open-access/  Invia ad un […]

  3. Stevan Harnad (@AmSciForum) Says:


    Elsevier’s Authors’ Rights & Responsibilities, “What rights do I retain as a journal author?” states:

    — “…the right to post a revised personal version of the text of the final journal article (to reflect changes made in the peer review process) on your personal or institutional website or server for scholarly purposes… (but not in… institutional repositories with mandates for systematic postings unless there is a specificagreement with the publisher)…” —

    Along with the majority of refereed journal publishers today, Elsevier is a “Green” publisher, meaning Elsevier has formally endorsed immediate (unembargoed) institutional Green OA self-archiving by its authors ever since 27 May 2004.

    Recently, however, a new clause has been added to “Authors’ Rights and Responsibilities,” the document in which Elsevier formally recognizes its authors’ right to make their final, peer-reviewed drafts Open Access immediately upon publication (no embargo) by posting them on their institutional website (Green Gratis OA). The new clause is:

    —- “but not in institutional repositories with mandates for systematic postings.” —-

    The distinction between an institutional website and an institutional repository is bogus.

    The distinction between nonmandatory posting (allowed) and mandatory posting (not allowed) is arbitrary nonsense. (“You retain the right to post if you wish but not if you must!”)

    The “systematic” criterion is also nonsense. (Systematic posting would be the institutional posting of all the articles in the journal; but any single institution only contributes a tiny, arbitrary fraction of the articles in any journal, just as any single author does; so the mandating institution is not a 3rd-party “free-rider” on the journal’s content: its researchers are simply making their own articles OA, by posting them on their institutional website, exactly as described.)

    This “systematic” clause is hence pure FUD, designed to scare or bully or confuse institutions into not mandating posting, and to scare or bully or confuse authors into not complying with their institutional mandates. (There are also rumours that in confidential licensing negotiations with institutions, Elsevier has been trying to link bigger and better pricing deals to the institution’s agreeing not to adopt a Green OA mandate.)

    Elsevier’s public image is so bad today that rescinding its Green light to self-archive after almost a decade of mounting demand for OA is hardly a very attractive or viable option.

    And double-talk, smoke-screens and FUD are even less attractive or viable.

    It will hence very helpful in helping researchers to provide — and their institutions and funders to mandate — Open Access if Elsevier drops its “you may if you wish but not if you must” clause.

    It will also help to improve Elsevier’s public image.

    Stevan Harnad

  4. Open access publishing « Peter Cameron's Blog Says:

    […] access publishing is back in the news. Tim Gowers reports that Horizon 2000, Europe’s “Framework Programme for Research and Innovation”, is […]

  5. Akademisk vår | Anne Brynolf Says:

    […] Ulf Kronman). Inom EU rör det också på sig – det verkar som att open access-frågan kommer att vara central vid utformningen av Horizon 2020, EU:s ramprogram för forskning och utveckling (vi pratar […]

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