Researchers’ results to be free for all

Despite adopting a new Open Access protocol, the research councils indicate that Denmark is still lagging behind when it comes to sharing publicly-funded research

Hugger's promising career ended in 2009 when he endured a serious eye injury (photo: iStock)
June 25th, 2012 11:17 am| by admin
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The politicians may be playing the waiting game, but Denmark's research has ratified a new policy that will force researchers who have received support from one of the country's five state-funded research councils to publicise their scientific articles for free.  

The policy, known as Open Access, has been agreed to by the research councils group, which consists of The Danish Council for Independent Research, The Danish National Research Foundation, Council for Strategic Research Advanced Technology Foundation and Council for Technology and Innovation, which distributes 4.3 billion kroner a year to research.

”Free access to research results will benefit society in general, as well as companies' opportunities to become more innovative and contribute to economic growth,” Jens Christian Djurhus, who is chairman of the board for The Danish Council for Independent Research, told Information newspaper.

Until now, research results were protected by a payment-wall that requires researchers and research institutions to pay a substantial fee to gain access to their own research results after they are published in scientific journals.

Many of these scientific journals can cost more than 100,000 kroner a year in subscription fees which means that larger companies can struggle to pay for a subscription while small and medium-sized companies may only be able to afford to pay for individual articles.

The science community has already rebelled against what they consider a dire situation regarding access to research results, and using the name ‘An academic spring’, more than 12,000 scientists have begun boycotting  scientific journals.

But despite the research councils' adopting the new Open Access policy, Denmark is still lagging behind when it comes to the sharing of publicly funded research.

In 2007, Denmark joined an EU initiative that conveyed the importance of making publicly financed research freely accessible to all, but politicians have since been dragging their feet on the issue in an attempt to protect Danish speaking scientific journals.

The research councils have addressed this issue with the Open Access policy model that means that researchers will be allowed to publicise their findings in an free online version parallel to the scientific journal's article, but only after a 6 to 12 month waiting period. Karl Bock, who is the chairman for the research council The Danish National Research Foundation, is under no illusions when it comes to implementing the new model.

“We are well aware that a full transition to Open Access won’t occur over night,” Bock told Information. “But in the long run we must change the publishing model so that all users can freely access research that has already been funded through public taxes.”

Advocates of Open Access research maintain that the advantages of the model include accelerated discovery, as scientists are able to read and further findings; public enrichment, as tax payers are able to see what they invest in; and improved education.

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