PASTEUR4OA/Green Light for Open Access: Conference Summary

PASTEUR4OA recently held its final conference in Amsterdam. The article below gives a detailed overview of the speakers and topics discussed at the conference. A more formal conference report (Deliverable) will follow shortly. Want more information about our Open Access work? See our Advocacy Resources.

The PASTEUR4OA project was launched in 2014 with the goal of supporting the development and standardisation of Open Access (OA) policies throughout Europe, in order to maximise alignment with the Horizon 2020 policy on access to research funded by the European Commission (EC).

With the project now nearing its end, a final conference to present the results of the project and discuss the broader landscape for OA in Europe was held in Amsterdam on 17-18 May 2016. Attended by 145 delegates, the conference comprised three keynote lectures from distinguished European OA proponents, five thematic sessions and panel discussions, and presentations from project leaders.

During the last few years, the ideas behind the OA movement – that is, that the reported results of research, and particularly of publicly-funded research, should be freely available to anyone – have come into the mainstream. Rapid progress towards OA is being made, and the European Union has been at the forefront of this movement through early policy advances and with the current Dutch presidency giving it a particular impetus. Many of the conference speakers highlighted this process of cultural change from different perspectives.

Keynote Talks

The coordinator of the PASTEUR4OA project, Victoria Tsoukala from the National Documentation Centre in Athens, Greece, welcomed delegates to the conference and introduced its first session, starting with two keynote speakers. Ron Dekker, Director of Institutes at the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and Project Leader Open Access for the Dutch presidency of the Council of the European Union, and Gerard Meijer, president of Radboud University.

Dekker introduced the meeting theme, highlighting the importance of Open Science with reference to the importance of open research in tackling challenges such as the Ebola and Zika virus outbreaks. Many OA initiatives have emerged in recent years and the services available today are unlikely to be completely sustainable in the long term, but they can be pathfinders towards a universal solution that could one day provide free access to the whole of scholarly literature. Before that can happen, however, we need improved infrastructure, policies and incentives, and perhaps above all we need to complete the transformation of research culture. Dekker ended by challenging his listeners to work towards these goals, asking ‘What are you going to do tomorrow?’ (Download presentation)

Delegates from as far away as Australia attended the conference.

Meijer described the progress that the Netherlands has made towards OA. Several factors have led to this country being a world leader in this area. It is relatively small and homogeneous so its universities and other institutes work closely together, and there is strong support for OA policies at the highest levels of government. Furthermore, Meijer and his fellow university leaders have been working closely together to keep the major publishers on board by negotiating a separate agreement with each to make most of the journals they publish freely available. He highlighted the need for the OA movement to expand out of countries like the Netherlands, where it is strongest, to cover the whole continent and eventually the world.

After these lectures, Tsoukala and Alma Swan (convenor of the global organisation and project partner Enabling Open Scholarship), described the outcomes and achievements of the PASTEUR4OA project in supporting and enabling OA policies across Europe. Its main achievements include the Knowledge Net of key nodes across Europe, workshops and training programmes, and sets of policies and tools to align those policies to the requirements of Horizon 2020. A Europe-wide analysis of OA policies identified three criteria in particular that make such a policy successful: the requirement to deposit papers in a repository, a no-waiver condition for this deposit, and linking compliance with research assessment and thus career outcomes for authors. (Download Victoria's presentation; Alma's Presentation)


Artist Elco van Staveren sketched the various sessions of the conference, including this drawing of the keynote speakers and PASTEUR4OA overview from Victoria Tsoukala and Alma Swan. All of the sketches are licensed CC BY for re-use, and can be downloaded here.

The rest of the conference programme included five sessions of short talks, each with its own theme and panel discussion. The first of these comprised four presentations about the state of OA in different European countries, starting with Slovenia. Meta Dobnikar outlined her country’s policy, which had been previously described as ‘one of the best in Europe’. Its OA goal, which is fully aligned with Horizon 2020 requirements, will shortly be incorporated into national law. Belgium’s policies, as described by Eric Laureys of BELSPO, are more fragmented since the country itself has federal and regional approaches to policymaking, but overall its researchers and policymakers favour a repository-based (‘green OA’) approach. The director of library services at the University of Malta, Kevin Ellul, described that institute’s policies, which were drafted following a wide consultation and which should soon be adopted by the whole archipelago. Finally, Beate Eellend from Sweden, another country with progressive OA policies, presented the project that she manages and described the progress towards, and potential barriers to, her country’s ‘far-reaching and ambitious’ proposals for 2025. (Download presentations from Meta, Eric, Kevin and Beate)

Funders' Perspective

All talks in the second session came from the perspective of national and international research funders, starting with Rūta Petrauskaitė from the Lithuanian science funding agency. She used a visualisation to describe the complex interplay of organisations and infrastructures involved with regulating OA policy in Lithuania. (Download presentation)

The complex interplay of organisations and infrastructures involved with regulating OA policy in Lithuania, as depicted in Rūta Petrauskaitė's talk.

Neil Jacobs of Jisc described the complex but generally favourable position of OA in the UK, including the role of its higher education funding council (HEFCE) in linking open access publication to the assessment of researchers for block grants to university departments. This progressive policy was mentioned several times during the meeting, as were others like it from elsewhere in Europe. (Download presentation)

Other talks in this session came from João Nuno Ferreira of Portugal's Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT), who described how that council is implementing its open access policy, stressing the need to make it straightforward for researchers to use, and from Patrick Danowski, the library manager at a new inter-disciplinary research institute, IST Austria. Danowski outlined the ‘transition to open science’ that was taking place in Austria. The Austrian Science Fund, FWF, already mandates that papers from the research it funds are published on open access and with a CC-BY Creative Commons licence and there is an overall goals to reach a ‘100% open’ landscape by 2025. A pan-European view came from Jean-François Dechamp of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation. Dechamp described the current policies for promoting OA to publications and research data arising from Horizon 2020 projects and highlighted the importance of communication with researchers in encouraging ‘buy-in’ as well as compliance. (Download presentations from JoãoPatrickJean-François)

Austria's Patrick Danowski speaking at the Green Light for Open Access conference.

The third and final session of short talks on the first day was devoted to the essential task of monitoring compliance with OA requirements. Two of the presenters, Mikael K. Elbæk from the Technical University of Denmark and Frank Manista from Jisc in the UK described software tools that had been developed in their institutions for monitoring researchers’ compliance with OA requirements and, therefore, progress towards agreed goals. The Netherlands’ Kim Huijpen described some methodologies that are being used to classify publications. The fourth talk in this session came from Stephen Curry, a researcher in biomedical sciences in the UK who is also a well-known OA advocate. He praised the Open Science ethos and its ‘fit’ with academic research but highlighted problems raised by the need for scientists to be seen to publish in high impact journals. Many of these are not OA, and those that are charge accepted authors very high fees. (Download presentations from Mikael, Frank, Kim, Stephen)

The second day of the conference began with another keynote lecture, by Jean-Pierre Finance, the chair of the European University Association’s expert group on ‘Science 2.0 and Open Science’. This association, with over 800 EUA member institutions from a total of 46 countries, offers consultative services to the whole university sector. It has been working on OA initiatives since 2008, and now with the new expert group it is moving beyond OA to open science and open data. It has set out a roadmap for expanding OA, including both long-term aims and more detailed priority actions.  Finance ended his talk by emphasising the importance of encouraging dialogue between scientists and wider society and the potential value of open science in fostering this dialogue. (Download presentation)

What's Next for Open Access Policy?

The conference ended with two further sessions of short talks under the single heading of ‘what next for open access policy?’. The first half focused on infrastructure developments and the second on policy. The introductory talk in the infrastructure session  was given by Bill Hubbard from Jisc in the UK. He stressed the need for OA infrastructure to be both sustainable and scalable if it is to be fit for the situation envisaged in a few years, when all or almost all of scholarly output should be available through OA. Rob Johnson, an OA consultant also working in the UK, explored this need for sustainability further. Kristiina Hormia-Poutanen of LIBER, the Association of European research libraries, explained that enabling OA was one of LIBER’s main priorities for the next academic year and described some ways in which libraries and librarians are contributing to this goal. Finally, Natalia Manola from OpenAIRE,a EU project aiming to reinforce an open and sustainable scholarly communication infrastructure in Europe, explained the need for free access to research data – such as that provided through the new European Open Science Cloud. (Download presentations from Bill, Rob, Kristiina, Natalia)

Natalia Manola of OpenAIRE speaking at the Green Light for Open Access conference.

The final conference session comprised three talks exploring future developments in OA and Open Science policy. Ben Johnson from HEFCE in the UK described how that funding council’s policy to align research funding with OA, termed a ‘game-changer’, aims to become even further aligned to UK research culture. Bernard Rentier, former Rector of the University of Liège in Belgium explained that a similar policy at that institution had resulted in higher rates of compliance with OA policies than other Belgian universities and, in the last talk of the meeting, Stephan Kuster of Science Europe gave a snapshot of European OA policy and proposed that the next stage of development should involve the expansion of European ‘best practice’ not only throughout the continent but worldwide. (Download presentations from Bernard, Stephan)

The task of summing up the developments presented throughout the conference was left to Tsoukala as PASTEUR4OA coordinator. She emphasised that progress towards completely open access will be a long process and that delegates had heard a series of ‘snapshots’ at a particular point in time. The end point of 100% OA is still a long way away and different countries and institutions will progress towards it using different methods and at different rates. The European Union can, through projects like PASTEUR4OA, contribute to the creation of guidelines, policies, milestones and targets to encourage faster and more uniform progress.  Policies – the main thrust of this project – are not aims in themselves but means to that end. One of the aims of open science is to bridge the gap between scholarship and the world outside. The outputs of the conference, including sketches, photos, presentations and tweets – nearly 3,000 with the hashtag #greenlight4oa – should help raise the profile of the OA movement well outside academic circles.

Report by Clare Sansom