The road to Open Access

All Dutch publications can be consulted for free by 2024, if the Dutch governments gets its way. Universities and publishers are negotiating about this ‘open access’ policy. “We are entering a new era in publications”, says Koen Becking, chairman of the Executive Board of Tilburg University. He is one of the two negotiators on behalf of the Dutch universities.

Universities buy subscriptions to scientific magazines to have access to publications. Tilburg University spends 800.000 euros a year for the service. This way, employees and students have access to the material, but people outside the universities do not. Open Access is gaining ground in the scientific world, though.

Open Access is a system of freely accessible scientific publications, magazines and books. In the past few years, steps towards a system like this have been taken. Secretary of State Sander Dekker thinks this is not enough. “The current situation is cluttered”, he writes in a letter to the House of Representatives. Stakeholders are not able to get to a jointly system. Reason for the government to jump in. “The government has to lead the way, so that the different parties can come to agreements.” Dekker clearly wants to make way for Open Access to become commonplace.

Green, gold, hybrid
There are two ways you can choose: the ‘green road’ and the ‘gold road’. When someone chooses the green road, he publishes in a magazine, and also in a freely accessible electronic archive (repository). Publishers negotiate for an embargo, and that can be months or years. The gold road promises more. The university or the financer of the research pays to get published. This way, there are no costs for subscriptions, and other parties can access the content. A third option is the ‘hybrid’ way, where magazines give the possibility to publish individual articles in an open access environment. Usually the university or a different financier pays for this as well. 

The Netherlands choose the golden route.

Different roles
The Association of universities in the Netherlands, VSNU, is pleased with the development. According to Becking, this is not a new discussion, but it is the first time that the discussion is this structured. Publishers will get a different role in a new system, measuring quality and distribution are still tasks for them.

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