Make Scientific Publications Public

Published on
March 24, 2009

Under the title 'Make Scientific Publications Public' (in Dutch), the National Library of the Netherlands has recently published a plea to make publicly available the research results of projects financed with funds from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) (NRC Handelsblad, 1-8-2009).

From the ensuing discussion, it turns out that many interested parties agree that public availability (Open Access) within this framework is inescapable, but there are still the usual problems with the idea that "soon the author will determine which scientific publications are significant." After all, in the Open Access model, the author pays for publication—that's how it's being presented—and as such, the power in the publication process is shifting from the publishers and editors to the authors.

Fortunately, the reality is a bit more nuanced. In the Open Access model, which Wageningen UR Library is also promoting, the goal is to keep the costs for the total scientific publishing process as low as possible while keeping a scientifically-based review system. We currently see that the costs are being influenced by a publication market that isn't functioning well, in particular the subscription costs for scientific journals are being kept unnaturally high and that publishers are offering too little room to use alternative publication channels for, for example, pre- and post-prints. Therefore, we, along the Surf Foundation, universities and other interested parties, are explicitly looking for good alternatives to the current scientific communication model that is being controlled by semi-monopolistic organisations. The most important point in our search is that the peer-review system is seen as the best option for quality assurance. In this context the development of alternative publication models is seen as a transition phase in which traditional journals work next to Open Access journals. Furthermore, we are also actively working on using the possibilities that publishers are now offering for open access publishing of, for example, post- and pre-prints in Wageningen Yield.

Wageningen UR is now seriously looking at the Open Access option on a policy level with the department of Education and Research. The options still have to be discussed fully. The Open Access Week, which is being celebrated internationally from 19-23 October , is a good opportunity to do this. As part of this event, a national Open Access website will be launched shortly. The website will help authors expand the reach of their scientific publications.

(newsletter 5-2009)