Open Access in the Netherlands: walking the golden road

19 December 2013

In the Netherlands, all publicly-funded research publications shall be available free of charge by 2024. This commitment was made by Sander Dekker, State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science. In a letter to Dutch Parliament, Dekker affirms the government’s position and set out a roadmap towards 100% Open Access of scientific publication. The Dutch knowledge institutes are contributing to the transition, but might face forceful measures if progress is deemed insufficient. 

Gold vs. Green
To make a full transition to Open Access of publications, the current ambiguity needs to cease and clear rules need to be laid out –according to Dekker. In doing this, the State Secretary intends to implement the ‘golden road’. This means that authors will pay for the publication of their scientific articles which will then become available for free. This as opposed to the ‘green road’ which leaves the current system of paid subscriptions to scientific journals mostly intact and also creates an Open Access channel of publication.  

The Netherlands as pilot
Dekker is committed to complete the implementation of Open Access of publications by 2024. However, he recognises that the Netherlands should not go about this endeavour on its own. In the near future, deliberations with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium and Finland should help to speed up the transition. All these countries have large commercial and scientific publishers located within their borders. The timing is not coincidental as in 2014, several ‘big deals’ between scientific organisations and publishers will be renegotiated.

Support from the field 
Dutch research organisations are a vital part of the transition to Open Access of publications. TNO, the Dutch research and technology organisation and one of the members of the Association Neth-ER, announced that it will make all publications accessible free of charge. In collaboration with Delft University of Technology, TNO will set up a repository where everybody has free access to TNO’s publicly-funded research publications. Not only TNO, but also the other members of Neth-ER are highly committed to Open Access. In a collective pamphlet the members of Neth-ER underline the importance of Open Access. It has been identified as one of the important priorities for the European Parliamentary elections in May 2014. Despite the right spirit, the State Secretary stresses  that if too little progress is being made in the process of Open Access, the Dutch government will react. Dekker threatens to integrate obligatory Open Access in the Dutch law on higher education and scientific research in 2016. 

What about Open Access of research data?
The Dutch government is committed to achieving a 100% Open Access of publications, but the position on the Open Access of research data is less ambitious. In a letter to Dutch Parliament, the Minister of Economic Affairs, Henk Kamp, reaffirms his support for Open Access of research data. Kamp also expresses some concerns. Parties that bring own resources to a research project, should be able to reap the benefits of these investments. Furthermore, Kamp argues, the definition of ‘data’ is currently rather broad. The Open Access of research data pilot under Horizon 2020 will be closely followed by the Dutch government. Kamp stresses that the Netherlands will contribute to a constructive debate and supports the implementation of Open Access of research data in a societal and economically profitable way.  

By Tim Buiting

More information
Publicatie:  Kamerbrief over Open Access van publicaties (in Dutch)
Publication: Beantwoording vragen Schriftelijk Overleg Raad voor Concurrentievermogen 2 en 3 december 2013 (ikn Dutch)
Press release: TNO makes publications available on the Internet
Neth-ER article: “Continue to invest in knowledge and science!”

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