By TU Delft Library Open Access Team
If I were to say, “TU Delft Library is to be the window to all the university’s Open Access matters, from advice to funding, that TU Delft Library has the ambition of centralising all the financial flows from open access fees, that it considers it as its task to inform researchers about Open Access and point out to them that when applying for a grant, both from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and from Horizon 2020, research funds should be allocated for publication”, what would your answer be?
For more than ten years, we have been waiting ‘for a more fundamental discussion’ on the implementation of Open Access – a discussion which is now going to take place, thanks in part to OA brief OCW Sander Dekker to the Dutch House of Representatives. It is the first time that the central government has adopted an unequivocal position in favour of Open Access, following in the footsteps of those who provide funding for academic research and of individual universities. Whether by coincidence or not, in November 2013 we mark the tenth anniversary of the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge, which entails free access to and re-use of academic output, and to which one of the signatories is TU Delft.
We are therefore pleased about the letter from the State Secretary dated 15 November 2013, not just because it prompts discussion about Open Access, but also because it supports the efforts of TU Delft Library to enhance awareness of open access among researchers at TU Delft.
The importance of research data
We are happy with the intentions of the State Secretary, however, we regret that inadequate reference is made to a number of important issues. The scope of open access in the letter is, in our opinion, too limited, reduced as it is to peer-reviewed articles. Publications in books, conference reports, software, and reports are also important academic building blocks with which the Open Access discussion should be involved. Another noteworthy omission is that of research data. It is precisely research data that form the assets of a knowledge institution. A major breakthrough in this area has been the ability to allocate digital object identifiers (DOIs) to research data, which means that datasets can be cited and identified as equally important academic output. TU Delft Library is co-founder and a member of DataCite and is entitled to assign DOIs within the Netherlands. In fact, it is the linking, merging and compiling of the complete range of academic output, from raw data to the final published article, that helps us shape open research and open education, and therefore ultimately open science.
The significance of Open Access for TU Delft
For a long time now, TU Delft Library has been present in various bodies in order to help shape the developments in the field of Open Access. Together with fellow universities (Eindhoven University of Technology, the University of Twente, Leiden University, and Erasmus University Rotterdam) and stakeholder organisations like the NWO and the UKB, we have lobbied in Brussels and The Hague in order to formulate a Position Paper on Open Access to Scientific Data in Horizon 2020 to publications and open access to research data in Horizon 2020.
The term ‘Open Access’ is still interpreted in different ways. All too easily, people associate it with FREE, and sometimes with insufficient quality. However, Open Access is about ‘access and re-using’. In other words, publications are free for the end-user, but not for the producer. That has to be made clear. Both ‘Gold Open Access’ and ‘Green Open Access’ entail costs. To get the prices to an acceptable level, universities will have to be professional in their negotiations with publishers, as is already the case with several publishers. In this context, the TU Delft Library is therefore in favour of both forms of open access – gold and green – in order to be able to provide our academics a wide range of options. We are putting a ‘default’ label on Open Access.
A second shortcoming in the letter of the State Secretary is indeed the one-sided opting for the ‘Gold Road’. The inclusion of the penultimate version (final author’s version) in the repository (‘Green Road’) could be an affordable alternative in the transition to a complete open access model with the publishers.
For some time now, TU Delft Library has been assisting our academics with an Open Access infrastructure that accommodates their wishes in every possible way. Alongside an institutional repository for publications and for research data, the TU Delft Library manages an image bank with open content and various subject repositories. With the help of an Open Access Fund, we can support academics financially too. When awarding contributions from the fund, we look very closely at the reputation of the publishers and their business models. We check, investigate and quantify our activities in order to create support among the researchers. Continual discussions take place between the TU Delft Library and TU Delft researchers. This autumn, together with our Rector Magnificus Karel Luyben, we will be asking researchers at TU Delft during faculty meetings what they think of open access.
Having said that, it is clear that we at the TU Delft Library, wish to continue these activities. Even more, in the coming months we will set forth the TU Delft Library as ‘the place’ for Open Access queries including the administration of the funding.
In short, we’re moving from Open Access to Open Science, and to Open Culture – it all calls for an open mind.