8 February 2019 • HOP, Oscarine Vonk
The Netherlands leads the way in open access
Increasing numbers of academic publications by Dutch scholars are becoming available through open access, but a lot more still needs to be done to reach the 100 percent target by 2020. That was the conclusion of the Rathenau Instituut in a report.
44 percent of all academic articles published in 2016 by a Dutch author were available through open access. In 2002, the figure was 20 percent. According to the Rathenau Instituut, this increase means that the Netherlands leads the way over surrounding countries. By way of comparison, the percentage of freely available publications is 36 percent in Belgium, 33 percent in Germany and 30 percent in France. Only the United Kingdom comes close to Dutch academics with 43 percent.
© Rathenau. Source: Web of Knowledge – Clarivate, Date accessed: 4 October 2018. For peer-reviewed articles, letters, proceedings and reviews, where at least one author has a Dutch affiliation. Regarding the total number of gold, bronze and green open access publications. It can sometimes take years for publications to be made available through open access after their publication. Therefore, the proportion of open access publications, particularly for more recent years of publication is subject to change. That is why the figures shown in this chart for 2014-2016 are still provisional.
In September 2018, Dutch research council, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), together with the European Research Council and ten other European research councils agreed that all new academic articles should be made available free of charge to everyone beginning in 2020. It is anticipated that open access will lead to a greater and broader use of academic knowledge.
However, open access still raises many questions. Namely, who will pay for the transition and publication and how will quality be guaranteed? “Although academics may generally be in agreement with the principles of open access, they still want to publish in high-impact journals that seldom work with open access,” said Alexandra Vennekens, Senior Researcher at the Rathenau Instituut. “They are unsure about how they will be evaluated if they do not publish in major journals. Furthermore, there are concerns about the ability to find articles in open access repositories.”
Under the current system, academic publishers have great power. Furthermore, academics do not have to pay to publish, but they do pay expensive subscriptions to gain access to the publications through their universities and knowledge institutions. Outsiders can only consult the publications at libraries that have a subscription.
There are different forms of publication through open access. Publication can be via an open access journal or an open article in a paid-for subscription journal (gold), via a digital repository at for example a university (green) or via the publisher’s platform where the licence is uncertain (bronze).
Research at the Rathenau Instituut also shows that the proportion of open access publications that are published via the gold route is growing fastest in the Netherlands. It has risen from 4 percent in 2002 to 58 percent in 2016. A considerable number of these publications are also available via a repository (the green route). Although this has accelerated over the last two years, it is still questionable whether the Netherlands will achieve the 100 percent target in 2020.
Researchers at the Rathenau Instituut stress that the collection of open access data is a ‘work in progress’. It is not possible to automatically determine whether each publication is available through open access. Furthermore, publications may only become freely accessible at a later stage.