Globalised knowledge market poses new challenges to science
Joint signing of the “Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities” by Swiss scientific organisations
The Rector’s Conference of the Swiss Universities (CRUS), the Conference of the Swiss Universities of Applied Sciences (KFH), the Swiss Conference of Schools for Teacher Education (SKPH) as well as the Council of the Swiss Scientific Academies (CASS), together with the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF), have signed the so-called “Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities” which furthers open access to knowledge in the sciences and humanities.
The joint signing of the Berlin Declaration by Rectors’ Conferences, Academies and National Foundation demonstrates the determined support for the “Open Access” philosophy, namely the most open access to scientific information for all interested parties, free of charge. The declaration is the response from the research system to the new opportunities for information offered by the Internet: opening up faster, more comprehensive and differentiated access to digital information for scientists and offering the corresponding services. The Conference of Swiss University Libraries (KUB) has already been canvassing for some time for widespread signing of the Berlin Declaration, in particular because Open Access systems will offer an alternative for the rapid increase in prices for subscriptions to commercial magazines from scientific publishers.
Knowledge as a public asset for researchers and interested parties
Scientific information is normally the result of the creation of knowledge subsidised by public funds. As public property it should be accessible to all interested parties without payment in return. “Open Access” simultaneously helps to break down barriers for accessing research knowledge. The objective of “Returning Science to the Scientists” is to provide maximum access to the results of research for scientific communities; after all, science as a public asset for researchers, both stimulates and generates new research ideas.
2.5 million articles published every year in 24,000 scientific magazines
“Open Access” for publications is concentrated on the 2.5 million magazine articles which are published worldwide every year in the exclusive 24,000 scientific magazines categorised as “peer-reviewed scholarly and scientific journals”. This can be achieved in two different forms: first of all through the actual archiving of the proprietary publications already appearing in scientific journals, on its own Homepage, the university server or a platform for institutions (approx. 92% of the 24,000 journals already permit their authors to do this); secondly, through publication in “Peer Reviewed Open Access Journals” (around 10% of the 24,000 journals currently allow this). One example of this is currently the largest provider of “Open Access” journals, BioMed Central (BMC), a profit-orientated British publishing firm with a portfolio of over 170 journals, including 137 pure “Open Access Journals”; as well however as the non-profit organisation Public Library of Science (PLoS).
Researchers are convinced:
“Open Access” is crucial in promoting knowledge exchange
In Switzerland there is no study that gives an insight into the change in the publications market which is the subject of keen discussion due to “Open Access” but provides virtually no data. However, a very recent survey by the German Research Foundation (DFG) on the attitude of scientists to publications and reception shows a German perspective : over 80% of the researchers questioned from the humanities/social sciences, natural/engineering sciences and life sciences, are convinced about the culture of “Open Access”: It is a decisive factor in promoting the exchange of scientific knowledge. In addition, the idea of personal archiving of scientific articles which have already been published in reputable specialized journals was considered very positively.
Need to develop a technical infrastructure in Switzerland
By signing the Berlin Declaration the Conferences of Rectors, the Academies and National Foundation, as an organisation promoting research, will in future pursue the following aims: researchers will be encouraged to make their (“Peer Reviewed” journals) publications openly available through way of “Open Access” personal archiving. The development of a technical infrastructure that permits fast and convenient access to scientific content, as well as the provision of help and services from the technical and organisational aspects, will provide these researchers with institutional support for their OA efforts. There also remains a series of legal and scientific-political questions to be clarified on the international cooperation side - what is important first of all however is to provide the joint, positive signal for the introduction of “Open Access” solutions into Switzerland.