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Europe's boost for innovation

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The European Commission today presented measures to make scientific information produced in Europe more accessible.

Scientific publications and data resulting from publicly funded research will be available more quickly to a wider audience, making it easier for researchers and businesses to exploit them. This support for Europe's innovative capacity for scientific discoveries will allow faster access to benefits for the public. Europe will thus get a better return on its investment of €87 billion per year in R&D. These measures complement the Commission's Communication on realising the European Research Area (ERA), also adopted today.

As a first step, the Commission will make free access to scientific publications a general principle of "Horizon 2020", the EU's framework programme for funding research and innovation for the period 2014-2020. This means that from 2014 onwards, all articles produced with the help of funds from this programme will have to be made freely available:

- or immediately by the publisher, who will publish them online (the so-called 'golden route' approach); the publication costs incurred may be reimbursed by the European Commission.

- or by researchers, no later than six months after publication (12 months for the social sciences and humanities), via open access archives (the so-called "greenway" approach).

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In addition, the Commission has recommended that Member States provide similar mechanisms for the results of research funded by national programmes. The aim is that by 2016, 60 % of scientific articles on publicly funded work in the EU should be freely available.

In addition, the Commission will start experiments on free access to data collected in the course of publicly funded research (e.g. results of experiments in digital form), taking into account legitimate issues related to the commercial interests of the beneficiary of the funds or to the respect of privacy.

In a public consultation conducted in 2011, 84 % of respondents felt that access to scientific literature was not optimal. Studies show that without rapid access to the latest scientific publications, small and medium-sized enterprises need up to two more years to bring innovative products to market. An EU-funded study showed that currently only 25 % of researchers make their data freely available.

Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, said: "Taxpayers should not pay twice for scientific research, and they need easy access to raw data. We want to radically improve the dissemination and exploitation of the results of scientific research, because this data is the new black gold".

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research and Innovation, said: "Taxpayers must get more value for their money. Open access to scientific publications and data will allow our researchers and businesses to make major advances faster, to the benefit of knowledge and competitiveness in Europe³d.

Background

Free access allows you to consult the search results on the Internet free of charge. The Commission today adopted a Communication setting out open access targets for the research it funds under "Horizon 2020". The Communication is accompanied by a Commission Recommendation proposing a comprehensive policy framework to improve access to and preservation of scientific information. Both initiatives are part of the wider process of realising the European Research Area. The Commission's work follows on from its communication on scientific information in the digital age, which was followed in 2007 by Council conclusions.

The Commission will undertake the following actions :

- make open access to peer-reviewed publications, either through open access publishing ("golden path") or self-archiving ("green path"), a general principle of "Horizon 2020".

- Promote open access to research data (experimental results, observations, computer-generated information, etc.) and develop on an experimental basis, in the context of "Horizon 2020", a framework for open access to research data that takes into account legitimate issues related to privacy, commercial interests and large volumes of data.

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- developing and supporting electronic infrastructures, interoperable at European and global level, for hosting and sharing scientific information (publications and data)

- to help researchers meet their open access obligations, and to promote a culture of sharing.

The Digital Agenda for Europe sets out an open data policy covering all information produced, collected or paid for by public bodies in the European Union. In addition, open access is explicitly supported in the EU's flagship initiative "Innovation Union" as an essential element in the realisation of the European Research Area. The Commission's Communication and Recommendation on scientific information complements another Communication adopted today, "A stronger European Research Area partnership for excellence and growth", which sets out the main priorities for completing the ERA, one of which is to optimise the dissemination, accessibility and transfer of scientific knowledge.

The European Commission will continue to fund open access projects. In 2012-2013, it will spend €45 million on data infrastructures and research on digital preservation. Funding will be continued under the Horizon 2020 programme. During the same period, the Commission will support experiments on new ways of processing scientific information, such as new peer review methods and new techniques for measuring the impact of articles.

(Source: La Fonderie - July 2012)

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