Discover how European funders are approaching Open policy and practices in new report

30th September 2019News, Open Access, Open Data, Open Science

A report that reveals the Open Access and Open Science policies, incentives and practices of European funders is being released today. Based on a survey conducted in late spring, the report is a first of its kind to examine what key international funding bodies (international and national funding bodies, major charities and foundations, national academics and key research performing organisations) are doing to incentivise openness to the work they help fund.
The intention behind the survey, which was led by SPARC Europe in consultation with ALLEA, the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities, The European Foundation Centre (EFC) and Science Europe, is to spur even greater – more widespread – support for Open research; to advance Open Access to research results in Europe.

“For libraries, more rewards and incentives amongst funders in Europe clearly endorses the Open Science work that libraries have been leading on for many years,” said SPARC Europe Director Vanessa Proudman. “More movement among funders to strengthen their OA and OD policies is certain to have positive consequences for libraries working to achieve greater open access to research results as we’re seeing happen with Horizon 2020.”
Important to note is that Plan S, established in September 2018, is a promising means for researchers to provide more immediate Open Access to funder research. Studies like the RIF Project work in tandem with Plan S, for example, and serve to identify trends, gaps and good practices to inform and motivate more funders to embrace Open Science in policy and practice on multiple levels – some of which we share below.
Based on the survey, which garnered responses from 62 research funders from 29 European countries, SPARC Europe has compiled several suggestions. These are actions that funding organisations Europe-wide may consider embracing in an effort to help advance Open Access and Open Science although many are already demonstrating strong commitments to OA and OS; and we’ve paired them with data points from the survey:

  1. Encourage more funders to adopt Open Access and Open Data policies to strengthen their current policies.
    The data from the survey showed that 24 of respondents (roughly 30%) had no OA policy, but – of these 24 respondents – half were in the process of developing one. At the same time, 42 had no research data policy; and of these, only 13 were in the process of developing one. Note that many respondents were from Western and Northern Europe.
    Of those with OA policies in place, 15 had been reviewed over the course of the previous three years; 11 had been reviewed during the previous 12 months. For future policy development, funders mentioned the following topics as meriting attention: policy monitoring, embargos, eligible journals, APC capping, funding publication costs and licensing
  2. Analyse the degree to which one’s policy matches with other commitments to Open
    Although some funders have policies in place, their practices do not always reflect how they, for example, invest in Open Access or Research data initiatives either in-kind or financially.
  3. Seek to close the gap on policies in all European countries
    Twenty-one funders from countries reported having established OA policies: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK. This shows a somewhat Western and Northern European bias.
    In contrast, only 12 funders from countries reported having Research Data policies in place: Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK. One can see a bias of funder policies in Northern and Western Europe in both cases.
  4. Consider reviewing Article Processing Charge expenditure and urge publishers to make pricing and/or cost structures transparent and to reduce article processing charges
    A full 52 of the 62 respondents reported contributing to OA publication costs for the research they fund. While 43 (roughly 70 percent) place no caps on Article Processing Charge expenditure, nine of the 43 are considering doing so indicating that some funders seek to reduce costs. Note that at the time, APC capping featured in Plan S. Ten funders are participating in consortia negotiating offsetting/transformative deals and 3 are directly negotiating offsetting/transformative deals with publishers.
  5. Monitor more closely for policy compliance and establish enforcement strategies.
    Roughly a third (23) of funders surveyed monitor for OA policy compliance — and only 15 percent (9) do the same for their RD policies. And in most cases, policy non-compliance bears no practical consequences for beneficiaries.

To dig into the survey data in more depth, you can download the report in full.