Accessibility Tools

The Covid-19 crisis led to major push towards Open Access, which is now well on its way to becoming a global reality. EUA Board member Patrick Lévy looks at this key moment in the movement’s history.

This year’s Open Access Week is a very special occasion. 2020 has shown – for all the good and bad reasons during a global pandemic that continues to affect us all – the power of Open Access. But while the unprecedented growth of Open Access papers and preprints has been a crisis mode reaction, it is now time to make Open Access a permanent feature of the research system. Twenty years after the Budapest Open Access Initiative, we are in a crucial moment: 2021 has all it needs for Open Access to become the norm for researchers in Europe.

First and foremost, Horizon Europe will require immediate and irrevocable Open Access to publications resulting from research projects funded by the programme, alongside a set of other elements mainstreaming Open Science. According to the European Commission, costs for hybrid publishing will no longer be eligible and researchers will retain the rights to share their results. In parallel, the Open Research Europe publishing platform is a prime example of a research funder supporting a publishing ecosystem that is innovative, equitable and open. EUA, as a supporter of sustainable and open scholarly publishing, welcomes these changes in Horizon Europe. Of course, this does not mean that the work is over. Horizon Europe will have to step up its backing of universities in managing this transition and enable them to support all the scientific communities to reach this objective.

Furthermore, the long-awaited and, at times, hotly-debated “Plan S” will finally come into action on 1 January 2021. While the plan itself and its conditions have evolved – also due to constructive input from universities and other stakeholders –, its core is as relevant as it was at its launch in September 2018. Open licences, sustainable business models and copyright retention must be ensured. A welcome development has been the more strident work on rights retention to ensure Green Open Access and the growing attention to non-commercial publishing venues –  Diamond Open Access – in the quest to create a publishing system that is less dependent on a few commercial publishers and more diverse, community-driven and scholar-led. Plan S is a crucial piece in a transition to Open Access driven by stakeholders in the academic community, and we at EUA look forward to continuing our engagement with Coalition S in the coming year.

Likewise, at the core of the transition to Open Science is a re-thinking of the ways in which we assess researchers and academic careers. EUA has been at the forefront of discussions on career assessment reforms and will continue this work. Based this, we, in a partnership with DORA and SPARC Europe, will soon release materials and case studies that will support and inspire universities in reforming their internal assessment mechanisms and requirements.

Finally, we need to look beyond Europe. Science, scholarly publishing and the means of assessment are issues with global implications. There are understandable and legitimate concerns about Europe moving ahead without due considerations on what it means for others – an often-heard concern is pay-to-publish business models as hurdles for countries with lower incomes or disciplines not supported by external funding agencies. This is why we need a diverse and equitable publishing landscape. EUA supports such a vision of an open and inclusive system for the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science, which is scheduled to be adopted in late 2021. This UNESCO recommendation, already appearing very promising in its draft version, has the potential to enshrine a global commitment to sustainable Open Access – and will hopefully make 2021 the year that Open Access and Open Science go global.



Patrick Lévy
European University Association

Patrick Lévy is currently an EUA Board Member and President of Université Grenoble Alpes, having served as President of the federative institution Communauté Université Grenoble Alpes (2015- 2017), and as President of Université Joseph Fourier (2012-2015). He is also leader of the project “Université Grenoble Alpes: University of innovation” labelled Initiative of Excellence by the French government in 2016. This project is based on an ambitious vision that aims to establish a comprehensive world-class research and multidisciplinary university in the alpine area.

Professor levy has been a member of the French Conference of University Presidents.

Follow EUA