Open access is the future

Knowledge should be shared generously and open access publishing is an excellent tool for doing so, argues Rector Dag Rune Olsen.

Image of open book with digital prints.
OPEN UP! Open access can be an inclusive tool and help academic publications to be available to more people.

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Open access (OA) is the practice of providing unrestricted access via the Internet to peer-reviewed scholarly research. On Wednesday 25 and Thursday 26 September, the University of Bergen (UiB) and other higher education institutions hosted a seminar on the topic in Bergen.

“At UiB we believe that Open access is the future,” said UiB Rector Dag Rune Olsen. “Knowledge should be shared generously. All obstacles against sharing should be removed and OA is a solid step in the right direction.”

Director Ole Gunnar Evensen at the University of Bergen Library agreed with the rector.

“The general public should have access to publicly funded research,” Evensen said. “In Norway most research is funded via the national budget, which in itself is an argument for being open.”

Evensen also informed that as of this week an OA publication fund is in place at UiB.

Encountering obstacles

It has however taken quite some time for OA to take hold. Evensen talks about obstacles encountered on the way. Leading academic journals such as Nature, Science, and Lancet do not permit for the final version of a text they publish – a so-called publisher’s PDF – to be shared via an institutional archive such as UiB’s BORA archive.

Evensen believes this can be solved by adding a version of the article that the publisher permits in the institutional archive or to publish articles in separate OA journals with both Level 1 and Level 2 classification.

Tailwinds for OA

Evensen expects tailwinds for OA in the years to come. He mentions that the United Kingdom within the next few years will make publicly funded research available to all. In the annual national research rapport (forskningsmeldingen), the Norwegian government encourages “all research that is fully or partly publicly funded should be made publicly available.”

“I look forward to future developments in OA,” Evensen said.

Rector Olsen also pointed to the huge democratic effects of OA.

“This is particularly true in countries with tighter research budgets than what we have in Norway,” Olsen said. “A system needs to be established where publication is cheaper or even free. I believe that Open access can be one of the best policy instruments to do so.”

(Translation: Sverre Ole Drønen.)