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A delegation of EU ministers has published a daring proposal which would see all scientific papers freely available to the public by the year 2020. Announced at the Competitiveness Council in Brussels  by the EU’s science chief Carlos Moedas, the move represents the culmination of intense lobbying efforts by the Dutch Government.

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While attending a press conference on Friday, Moedas stated: “ “We probably don’t realize it yet, but what the Dutch presidency has achieved is unique and huge.

They define open access as the following:

‘Open access to scientific publications’ is understood as having its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution . . . should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.

In a recent press release, Dutch state secretary for education, culture, and science Sander Dekker explained how this decision will benefit both the academic community and society in general:

Research and innovation provide the solutions to the social and economic challenges of the future. Open access breaks down the walls surrounding science and makes sure that society benefits as much as possible from all scientific insights. In that way, we maximise the impact of universities and knowledge institutions.

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Besides laying the foundation for the open science concept, the initiative represents a broader effort to make the EU a desirable place for investors and businesses. In relaxing restrictions, they hope to improve the economy by attracting foreign investors, who bring innovation, jobs, and money with them.

The caveat to take note of here is that, as things stand right now, the decision will not be retroactive, which means older scientific journals will remain unaccessible for public use.


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