Summary of the Swedish Government’s hearing on Open Access

On December 16th 2015 the Ministry of Research and Education invited to a hearing regarding the draft on national guidelines for open access to scientific information. The hearing was attended by approximately 100 representatives from HEIs, funders, research and library organizations as well as researchers.

The former state secretary Anders Lönn introduced the hearing with the declaration that Sweden is one of the foremost research nations and noted that open access to scientific information is a future-oriented and important topic. The focus of the hearing was, on the basis of the proposed national guidelines for open access, to discuss how Sweden and the government can proceed with the transformation to a system in which scientific information is published open access. This change raises many complex issues with the need to consider many different aspects. Also, a joint discussion is needed where the roles and significances of different stakeholders are defined, with the goal to achieve the strategic objective, that from 2025 all scientific publications and artistic works resulting from research financed by public funds shall be published immediately with open access.

The aim of the hearing was thus to gather more knowledge about how the assignments and instructions must be designed and what should be included in the forthcoming research bill. Desk officer Eva Stensköld stressed that it is the Government’s view that Sweden should take a leading role in the transformation to an open access publishing system. Since the proposed strategic objective is fixed the focal point is not if this should be done, but how. In line with Anders Lönn, Eva Stensköld emphasized the need to discuss the tasks that need to be accomplished and the measures that need to be taken in order to achieve the strategic objective for 2025. The hearing was therefore the last part of the consultation procedure to provide input to the Government’s continuing work.

In summary, there was a good atmosphere as well as consensus among the participants during the hearing.

Regarding open access to research data a need was pointed out for a national overview of the experience already gained within existing pilot studies and projects, as well as the fact that differing terms and conditions among the various academic disciplines requires attention.

Concerning open access to scientific publications and artistic works, the discussion emphasized that the transformation to an open access publishing system in many respects is connected to the existing qualification and funding allocation system. Aspects such as Journal Impact Factor (JIF) and that this measurement method is closely linked to the commercial publishers was also problematized. There is a need for strong incentives for researchers to publish open access. There is also a national and international need to get control of both subscription fees and APCs in order to facilitate the transition to an open access publication system. Alternative publishing models for articles as well as monographs need to be recognized and supported in order to create diversity in the publishing landscape. Here it is also of importance to emphasize different publishing traditions within various academic disciplines.

It got clear that both HEIs and research organizations as well as funders are willing to cooperate and take responsibility in the procedure to reach the strategic objective of immediate open access for scientific publications and artistic works in 2025. It was stressed, however, that artistic works are shaped by specific conditions and needs that must not be sidelined.

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