Scientific data: open access to research results will boost Europe’s innovation capacity

(Brussels, 17 July 2013) The European Commission today outlined measures to improve access to scientific information produced in Europe. Broader and more rapid access to scientific papers and data will make it easier for researchers and businesses to build on the findings of public-funded research. This will boost Europe’s innovation capacity and give citizens quicker access to the benefits of scientific discoveries. In this way, it will give Europe a better return on its EUR87 billion annual investment in R&D. The measures complement the Commission’s Communication to achieve a European Research Area (ERA), also adopted today.

As a first step, the Commission will make open access to scientific publications a general principle of Horizon 2020, the EU’s Research & Innovation funding programme for 2014-2020. As of 2014, all articles produced with funding from Horizon 2020 will have to be accessible:

  • articles will either immediately be made accessible online by the publisher (‘Gold’ open access) – up-front publication costs can be eligible for reimbursement by the European Commission; or
  • researchers will make their articles available through an open access repository no later than six months (12 months for articles in the fields of social sciences and humanities) after publication (‘Green’ open access).

The Commission has also recommended that Member States take a similar approach to the results of research funded under their own domestic programmes. The goal is for 60% of European publicly-funded research articles to be available under open access by 2016.

The Commission will also start experimenting with open access to the data collected during publicly funded research (e.g. the numerical results of experiments), taking into account legitimate concerns related to the fundee’s commercial interests or to privacy.

84 % of respondents to a 2011 public consultation said that access to scientific literature is not optimal. Studies show that without speedy access to up-to-date scientific literature, it takes small and medium-sized enterprises up to two years longer to bring innovative products to the market. An EU-funded study showed that currently only 25% of researchers share their data openly.

Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, said: “Taxpayers should not have to pay twice for scientific research and they need seamless access to raw data. We want to bring dissemination and exploitation of scientific research results to the next level. Data is the new oil.”

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research and Innovation, said: “We must give taxpayers more bang for their buck. Open access to scientific papers and data will speed up important breakthroughs by our researchers and businesses, boosting knowledge and competitiveness in Europe.”

Read the press release including the background to this announcement, here.