Open access means that all research that is funded using public money can be found by searching online and read free of charge. The material is also free to use. Research results that are openly accessible to the whole of society provide a foundation for future research both within and outside academia and give citizens access to scientific information. 

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There are now guidelines and standards for open access to research results at national, European and international levels created by researchers, universities, research funders and governments.

The main methods for open access publishing are described internationally using the concepts of gold and ”green”.

Green” open access means that, as soon as the publisher gives permission, the researcher self-archives a peer-reviewed and edited version of the article in a digital archive, called a repository. The final version of the article has already been published in a traditional subscription-based journal.

Gold” open access means that researchers publish their work through an open access publisher. The book or article then becomes openly available on the internet. Often, the publisher charges a small administration fee, which is paid by the researcher / institution directly. Articles may also be published in traditional subscription-based journals and are then made immediately openly available for a fee. This version is called a ”hybrid”.

Open access means that the author gives everyone the right to read, download, copy and distribute their work in digital form. The author retains all moral rights. The author must be properly acknowledged and the work must not be distorted.

Open access has been developed as an alternative to traditional publishing in subscription-based, closed journals by dedicated researchers, librarians and publishers amongst others. The reasons are:

  • to exploit the Internet’s potential for supporting science-society communication
  • to enable current research to be automatically collated and processed by researchers in the future
  • to create more reasonable levels of publishing fees in an area monopolised by prices charged by a few large commercial publishers

In Sweden, the Swedish Research Council and the National Library of Sweden, at the request of the Department of Education, have developed draft national guidelines on open access to scientific information. The proposal recommends that open access to research is implemented and is regarded as the norm. The aim is that, by 2025, all scientific publications and artistic works, which are financed using public funds, should be made openly accessible immediately upon publication. For research data, a gradual transition is recommended to allow time for technical infrastructure to be put in place.

Open science includes a number of different but overlapping areas such as open access to scientific information, which includes both publications and research data; open educational resources; open source code; alternative ways to measure scientific influence; open peer review; and citizen science.

Some of the key arguments for giving open access to research are that it improves the quality of research, it streamlines the use of research funding, and ensures that research funded by tax revenues benefits the whole of society.  As research results are disseminated more quickly and much more broadly, all societal stakeholder groups can utilise and build on previous research.

Another reason for giving open access to research data is that it enables conclusions to be validated more easily, which results in higher quality research and any research misconduct can be detected. Another important argument is that there are also benefits in terms of competitiveness and innovation if industry can easily gain access to the research.  Society as a whole can also benefit as public authorities are also able to utilise current research.

Calls for Proposals

In the ”Science with and for society” work programme there are a number of calls relating to open access, see the list of calls for proposals in the SwafS programme.

Current and forthcoming calls are also outlined in the SwafS work programme for 2016–17.

Within Horizon 2020 there are a number of calls for proposals in programmes other than SwafS in which RRI perspectives are particularly prominent. Calls for the period 2016-2017 are collated in the report on RRI opportunities in Horizon 2020.

Sources of additional advice and information

Horizon 2020’s web pages about Open access & Data management.

RRI Toolkit/open access –here you can search for resources and guidance on how open access can be practically integrated into your research.

In the Spring of 2016 several important steps were taken towards a transition to an open science system, including a book by the Commissioner for Research, Carlos Moedas, on The Three Os (Open innovation, open science and open to the world), the establishment of an Open Science Policy Platform, and the conclusions of research ministers at a meeting of the Competitiveness Council. The EU Commission’s web page on Open Science explains these developments.

Where can I get additional help? – Since 2006 the National Library of Sweden has been running a programme, which aims to promote open access on the internet to works produced by researchers, teachers and students. This is done by supporting open access publishing at Swedish universities, as well as supporting Swedish research funding agencies on issues relating to open access. The programme includes the provision of information and advice, infrastructure and services, as well as international collaboration.

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