The public consultation on scientific information in the digital age, which was recently undertaken by the European Commission, spurred great interest among a variety of stakeholders, with 1140 responses received from 42 countries.
Respondents identified a strong need for better access to scientific publications and scientific data in Europe. 90% of respondents supported the idea that publications resulting from publicly funded research should as a matter of principle be in open access (OA) mode and that data from publicly funded research should be available for reuse free of charge on the internet. Furthermore, 83 % called for policy formulation at the EU level and 86 % agreed on the development of an EU network of repositories.
Asked about barriers to accessing scientific publications the high price of journals/subscriptions (89%) and the limited budget of libraries (85 %) were identified as key issues. The main barriers to access research data were identified as lack of funding to develop and maintain the necessary infrastructures (80 %); the insufficient credit given to researchers for making research data available (80 %); insufficient national/regional strategies/policies (79 %) as well as the lack of incentives for researchers (76.4%).
Self-archiving (‘green OA’) or a combination of self-archiving and OA publishing (‘gold OA’) were identified as the preferred ways for increasing the number and share of scientific publications available in OA mode. The majority (56% of respondents) prefer an embargo period (that is the period of time during which a publication is not yet open access) of 6 months.
Finally respondents were also concerned that the preservation of scientific information is currently insufficiently addressed.
In May 2011, the Commission identified the 811 projects designated at the time and sent a questionnaire to all project coordinators in order to collect feedback on their experiences of both the implementation of the pilot and the reimbursement of open access publishing costs. A total of 194 answers were received by the end of August 2011. They provide important input for the future of the open access policy and practices in Horizon 2020 (the future EU framework programme for research and innovation), and for the preparation of a communication from the Commission and a recommendation to Member States on scientific publications in the digital age.