“Research findings funded by governmental resources must be available to everyone, not only to those who can afford to pay,” avers PĂ€r Omling, director general of the Research Council.

A fundamental principle in research is the free exchange of information and maximal dissemination of research findings. Against this background, together with the ever more rapid development of the Internet, the Berlin Declaration was formulated nearly two years ago. Thus far, it has been signed by some fifteen organizations associated with universities and research, most of them European. The Research Council is the second Swedish organization to sign, after the Association of Swedish Higher Education. Signatories pledge to encourage researchers to make their findings readily available on the Internet, to develop methods for the quality assurance of online publishing, and to strive to recognize open publications in assessments and appointments.

More open and faster
Besides the democratic aspect, open access has the advantage of speeding up the publication process. Today it can take years between the completion of the first version of a research article and the publication of a fully vetted version in an academic journal.

However, questions remain: how to deal with the right of researchers to their own texts? And perhaps most important: how can academic excellence be guaranteed? Today’s system of editing involves a comprehensive process of scrutiny.

Plan of action by fall
The Research Council is now launching efforts to see how it can work practically to promote open access, as a financier. By the fall, ahead of next year’s round of applications for research funding, Director General PĂ€r Omling wants to have a concrete plan of action.

“As financiers, for example, we should be able to change our policy when we look at applicants’ qualifications, while at the same time not jeopardizing the quality of the research. This is a conversation we must have with the research community, in an international context.”

More information:
The Berlin Declaration: http://www.zim.mpg.de/openaccess-berlin/berlin_declaration.pdf

Articles (in Swedish) from the journals Forska and Forskning & Medicin:
“With Open Access Knowledge Flows Freely”

“Open Journals Encourage Debate”: http://www.vr.se/artikel/ViewPage.action?siteNodeId=415&languageId=4&contentId=4201&issueContentId=4182

Contact person:
Björn Thomasson, Section for Research Policy Issues, Swedish Research Council: Bjorn.Thomasson@vr.se, phone: +46 8-546 44 314