Open Access in Sweden by Angelica Ericsson

Ce post fait un état des lieux de l’Open access en Suède, ce pays particulièrement fier de sa transparence et de son accès libre et gratuit à l’éducation. En absence d’une régulation spécifiquement conçue pour l’Open access, des organismes publics – tels que le Conseil de recherche et les universités – ont entamé plusieurs démarches afin de promouvoir son développement. Ces démarches incluent, notamment, le financement de recherche conditionné, l’aide financière à la publication par la voie dorée, ainsi que des recommandations quant à la voie verte. La question se pose, toutefois, de savoir si lesdits démarches vont suffire pour atteindre l’objectif prévu, étant donné que les chercheurs souhaitent normalement publier leurs articles dans les revues les plus prestigieuses…  qui ne sont pas en open access.

The Swedish society is one that prides itself on being open in general, and on having a free access to knowledge and education in particular. Therefore, one would think that the move towards Open Access to results of publicly funded research would have reached an advanced stage in Sweden. This contribution will outline both the steps which have been taken in this regard on a national level and on University level – using my own University’s Open Access policy as an example.

Nationwide approach to Open Access – regulation or incentives?

As of yet, there is no legislative framework which directly targets Open Access of publicly funded research results in Sweden. However, the legislator cannot be said to be unaware of the issue. In fact, the Swedish government has, in accordance with the European Commission’s recommendations on access to and preservation of scientific information, charged the Swedish Research Council with the task of developing national guidelines for Open Access to scientific information. This public agency, which operates under the authority of the Ministry of Education and Research, has thus been entrusted with a central role in the promotion and development of Open Access in Sweden.

Last year, the Swedish Research Council presented their Proposal for guidelines to the Swedish government, which had been developed in dialogue with various stakeholders. These proposed national guidelines suggest that scientific publications and artistic works, as well as research data forming the basis for scientific publications, when they are the result of publicly funded research, must be openly available. Based on its proposed policy decision, this agency envisages that the investigative work yet needed in this area can be concluded by the end of December 2018 and that Sweden should have a strategic objective for 2025.

Besides its efforts to further a legislative framework for Open Access, the Swedish Research Council is an agency that actively promotes Open Access in practice. Together with the Association of Swedish Higher Education, which is an organization for institutional cooperation between Swedish universities and university colleges, signed the 2003 Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, and has committed itself to create incentives to further the development towards more Open Access. Together with several other Swedish funding institutes, it requires that research which it funds should be made available through Open Access. However, it should be noted that such requirements linked to funding usually only cover articles, not books.

Approach of the University of Lund

At Lund University, one of the most prominent universities in Sweden, Open Access publishing of scientific results is strongly encouraged, if not required. According to its own publishing policy, the University should aim to make all scientific journals adopt a publishing model, where the readers are given free access to articles, directly or by self-archiving. During the past ten years, this University has also taken several concrete steps to facilitate both the green and the golden road.

In 2007, a decision was adopted to the effect that the heads of Department were made responsible for ensuring that registration of bibliographic data for all scholarly work produced and published at the University of Lund takes place continuously. Thereby, all publications made from 2002 onwards are to be registered in the University’s publications database LUCRIS. Furthermore, the University’s publishing policy recommends that, when possible, the full text be freely accessible, either through publication in an Open Access journal or in a journal which allows self-archiving.

Regarding the golden road, like several other universities, the University of Lund supports Open Access publishing by paying a portion of the publication fee, often required to cover the cost of the publishing process. At this University, such support is provided by means of a publishing fund that covers 50 per cent of the publication fee.

Are incentives enough?

One can conclude that Open Access is promoted in Sweden, both on national and on University level, through policy statements, recommendations and incentives, rather than through binding regulation. The question that begs to be answered is if such steps are sufficient to effectively bring about the desired end-result?

Even if incentives are multiplying, it can be tricky in practice to find a viable way for the individual researcher to publish her results through Open Access. For instance, the choice of Open Access journals open to Swedish legal scholars who would like to publish their work through the golden road is currently rather limited. There are some international alternatives, but barely any Swedish ones.

Even if the number of Open Access journals would increase, the question still remains if they would be seen as viable options for the individual researcher. The authors of the paper Prestige, Career and Open Access: Scientists’ Views on Publishing in Scientific Journals conducted interviews with scientists in Biomedicine at Lund University. Their study showed that, despite recommendations from the University and a positive impression of Open Access as an idea, these scientists had doubts about sending their articles to Open Access journals because of the low impact factor these journals have. The authors concluded that it is complicated to change scientists’ publishing habits because a scientist’s reputation depends on the opinions of his or her peers on a global stage. Aside from being hard, wouldn’t it also be foolhardy for a university in one single country to influence their scientists, who are competing with scientists all over the world, to publish in journals with less prestige?

angelicaAngelica Ericsson is PhD candidate in EU law at Lund University, Sweden, under the supervision of Prof. Xavier Groussot. Her research interest is focused on standards of judicial review – in particular, complements to the proportionality review in the assessment of the compatability of national structures with EU law. Part-time lecturer and Moot Court coach, while being full-time administrateur juriste at the Court of Justice of the EU.

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