Short summary of Conference in Stockholm on Open Access, April 12-13

Nearly all of Sweden’s university and college libraries were represented, in addition to the Swedish Research Council, individual researchers and others. The main focus was on Open Access policies and practices within and between Swedish universities and colleges, and on Swedish and European archiving and repository challenges and techniques.

Håkan Billig, Secretary General of the Medical Scientific Council of the Swedish Research Council, and responsible for drawing up guidelines for and implementing the Research Council’s publication policies, reported that the Research Council is likely to announce their long-awaited Open Access policy in December 07. The Council has signed the Berlin declaration and the Petition to the EU, yet has been uncertain as to how it would proceed in practice. Though Billig could not provide the details of the forthcoming policy, his presentation suggested that in future, funding recipients will be bound by a contractual clause that addresses Open Access publishing in some form. Billig emphasized that the Research Council’s prime goal is to maximize access, not to minimize publishing costs.

Marianne Wikgren, Research Officer at the Humanities and Social Sciences Scientific Council of the Swedish Research Council announced that earmarked funds to support the publication of Open Access journals will be available from 2008. The Scientific Council is currently restructuring its application forms to this end. This should spur the launch of several new Open Access journals in the Humanities and Social Sciences, as well as provide some needed support to existing journals.

Archiving and repository issues continue to pose challenges. The meeting illustrated that systems are being developed at local, national, regional and European levels. In addition to the technical challenge of integrating these various systems, populating repositories remains a major hurdle. In a future world in which metadata and full texts are available through fully integrated systems globally, repositories could be a researcher’s best friend. But although the realization of this scenario is critically dependent upon researchers depositing their work, there are currently few incentives at this stage of development.

However, Lund University Library may have discovered the “magic carrot” to entice depositions in its local repository with the introduction of the Lund Medical Virtual Journal, which offers a fully searchable compilation of references to articles published by members of the Medical Faculty in basic and clinical research as well as the health sciences. The aim is to make the articles freely available - Open Access – using copyright policies for self-archiving. Through features like the “article of the month” and a pleasant layout, this repository, cloaked in journal format, has left researchers clambering to ensure inclusion of their work each month.

The meeting provided a solid overview of the state of Open Access across Swedish Universities and Libraries and was surely a good warm-up for the Royal Institute of Technology Library staff who will also play host to the upcoming IATUL conference on Global Access to Science in June of this year. We congratulate BIBSAM and the Library of the Royal Institute of Technology on a successful meeting.