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Europe joins the debate on 'open access' publications

Last Updated on Sunday, 01 December 2013 20:49
Published on Thursday, 20 April 2006 00:00
The EU wants feed back on its proposals for improving access to scientific journals
The proposals are contained in a study published 31 March 2006 which looked at the economic and technical evolution of scientific publication markets in Europe. It was commissioned as a contribution to on-going public debate on the conditions of access to and dissemination of scientific publications.

There have been significant changes in the landscape over the last 30 years, in particular the rise of internet use. The study confirms scientific journals as an essential channel for the dissemination of scientific knowledge. With large amounts of public money invested in research, it becomes increasingly important for publications reporting on that research to be accessible to as wide a public as possible.

The study therefore makes a number of recommendations for future action, including:

  • Guaranteed public access to publicly-funded research, at the time of publication and also long-term
  • A “level-playing field” so that different business models in publishing can compete fairly in the market
  • Ranking scientific journals by quality, defined more widely than pure scientific excellence, but also taking into account factors such as management of copyright, search facilities and archiving
  • Developing pricing strategies that promote competition in the journal market
  • Scrutinising major mergers that may take place in this sector in the future
  • Promoting the development of electronic publication, for example by eliminating unfavourable tax treatment of electronic publications and encouraging public funding and public-private partnerships to create digital archives in areas with little commercial investment.


The European Commission is keen to hear the views of all interested parties. It is therefore calling for reactions to the study, and contributions on other issues linked to scientific publications. Contributions should be sent to
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 1st June 2006.


The study and its public feedback will be at the centre of a conference on scientific publication to be held in autumn 2006. SINAPSE, the web interface between the scientific community and Europe’s policy-makers, will also host a debate on the subject. (SINAPSE’s website: http://europa.eu.int/sinapse)


The study was carried out by a consortium led by Professor Mathias Dewatripont of the “Université Libre de Bruxelles”. The study is available for downloading at:



The response of the RAS to the proposals of RCUK, some of which are similar to those made in the EU study, can be found here pdf_small RAS_response_to_RCUK.pdf ( 01.09.2005 13:37