Wednesday, October 11, 2006

European Study on Scientific Publication

The European Commission has published a synthesis report on a public consultation on the scientific publication system in Europe.

In January this year, the comprehensive "Study on the economic and technical evolution of the scientific publication markets in Europe" was published. Commissioned by DG-Research, the 108 page study was undertaken in the economic and policy context of debates concerning access to scientific research and results, the archiving of materials, and relevance of the publication market not only to dissemination but also to the certification of "quality."

A public consultation on the study was launched and undertaken 31 March to 15 June 2006, drawing substantial input from various stakeholders, which have now been distilled in a report on the public consultation.

A recommendation in the original report receiving substantial support in the consultation was to guarantee public access to publicly-funded research results shortly after publication. This is important in that it balances the "commercial" value of the research publication and the need to dissemination quality research as quickly and widely as possible. The use of "open access archives" for EC-funded research received support in a wide range of submissions, including the response from the Wellcome Trust. The Wellcome Trust is the lead partner in the UK PubMed Central Implementation Group (UKPMC), which is working towards establishing a UK version of PubMed Central (PMCI) system of networked digital archives. The Wellcome Trust has a noted commitment to effective open access publishing in biomedical research.

Nevertheless, some responses expressed concern over trends towards open access publishing, mostly those from publishers. In particular, the response from Wiley is strikingly similar in its concerns (and wording) as the response from the Association of American Publishers (AAP), both of which state that there is "no credible evidence" that open access publishing is more effective. AAP describes the system as an "author-pays" system. Both responses make exactlyh the same statement - that "no credible evidence is presented that such models are inherently better than the current ones employed or that they have the necessary long-term viability." At least the industry line is readily available.

The Commission will host a conference on scientific publication issues in Brussels next year, 15-16 February.

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