As the driving force behind this key ambition, the VSNU/UKB must initiate collective policy and coordinate the main players in this field. Together with the main parties involved, agreements were made for 2018 - 2020 under the supervision of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The coalition agreement states that open access and open science must become the norm for scientific research.
In the coming period, a fifth pillar – ‘alternative publication platforms’ – will be added to the original four pillars defined in the VSNU's previous strategic roadmap.
(Click on the pillars for more information.)
Recently, the VSNU – together with a number of academic experts – formulated definitions concerning the monitoring of open-access publications. With the aid of these definitions, the universities conducted an official study of open-access performance in 2016, the results of which were presented to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science at the end of 2017. This study found that 42% of articles in the Netherlands in 2016 were open-access publications. In collaboration with its partners, the VSNU will initiate an exploratory study into alternative methods of monitoring open-access publications, although the ambition remains to allow all parties to register and monitor open access by means of a simple method.
At the end of 2016, all universities embraced a collective archiving policy in order to ensure the goal of 100% access by 2020 is achieved. Universities feel a responsibility to guarantee access to its own research output, and this archiving policy reinforces this process. In the coming period, VSNU will continue consultation with its national partners to further emphasise the importance of retaining copyright rather than transferring it exclusively to publishers. VSNU will develop an application of the right to open access as referred to in the Copyright Act (Taverne Amendment, clause included in 2015).
It is vitally important that open access remains high on the political agenda and that open science was given political priority during the Dutch Presidency of the European Union. Universities need a European lobby in order to exert political pressure on publishers and to keep each other informed. It is therefore evident that the European lobby must gird its loins and universities must work closely together in order to make open access a high priority on the international agenda. The VSNU is not alone in its efforts in the Netherlands: its partners NWO/ZonMw and KNAW are also firm proponents of this kind of international collaboration.
The VSNU continues to negotiate with the large publishing houses with which its affiliates have contracts. The universities want the reading contracts to be made fully open access for no extra cost. This will apply to all disciplines, while we understand that differences in publication culture exist. For this reason, the road to open access may require a number of different routes.
The following list displays a number of examples of differences in publication culture that affect the transition to open access:
In 2018 - 2020, the universities' negotiating position must be strengthened by reducing their dependence on established publishers. An open infrastructure for open access appears to offer a suitable solution in this regard. For the members of the NPOS, it is vital to maintain principles of open access in order to guide the market in such a way that both established and alternative publishers develop the right standards.
Principles compatible with both open access and open data, formulated by Bilder et al. (2015, see here). The authors write that ‘Everything we have gained by opening content and data will be under threat if we allow the enclosure of scholarly infrastructures. We propose a set of principles by which Open Infrastructures to support the research community could be run and sustained. – Geoffrey Bilder, Jennifer Lin, Cameron Neylon'. They subsequently assert that trust in a common infrastructure is vital and define principles concerning the following three areas: ‘running the infrastructure (governance), funding it (sustainability), and preserving community ownership of it (insurance)’. The current GO FAIR (Barend Mons et al.) initiative includes rules of engagement based on this article, applicable to all parties involved within a federative data infrastructure. In this way, GO FAIR seeks to protect the interests of science by setting entry rules for anyone who wishes to contribute to the realisation of an open-data infrastructure. A natural next step would be to formulate similar principles for open access (see here).