“Senior researchers can set the good example and encourage our young researchers to take the OA route”Catherine Schroeder, UnistraName: Alain Beretz
Position: University President
Expertise: Policy making
Institution: University of Strasbourg
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An interview with Alain Beretz on 4 January 2016
What got you interested in Open Access (OA) originally?
For example, early on I sorted through Current Contents by hand! Digitalisation is changing the very nature of how we access data, information and knowledge. Not only that, but also how we use it. As a result, we need to go further to exploit our digital assets and the possibilities they bring to us in this new era.
A commitment to Open Access is a must if we want the information we produce to be used and distributed. It is our duty as an institution to offer our researchers the most efficient Open Access solutions possible.
My interest in Open Access also stems from the current economic model of scientific publishing. It is an aberration to ask a university and its researchers to make draconian information resource choices for financial reasons due to the rises in subscriptions imposed by some commercial publishers. Publications are, after all, produced by our researchers!
What Open Access activities are you currently involved in?
At the University of Strasbourg, this means implementing an ambitious open cross-institutional repository or archive, both for scientific publications and for research data. This project, called Open Archive of Knowledge, involves all Alsatian institutions and we are co-piloting it with our partners from the University of Haute-Alsace. Our open archive platform for publications will go live at the end of the first quarter of 2016, and we are working with a pilot group of researchers to openly publish their research data on the web.
On a political level, nationally I use my position as a university president to advocate OA whenever I get the opportunity. For example, I recently contributed to the public consultation launched by Axelle Lemaire about the draft French law on the “Digital Republic”, affirming the need for France to adopt a strong policy in favour of Open Access.
The University of Strasbourg is also a member of the League of European Research Universities (LERU). I have the honour of chairing LERU, and this then also enables me to act on a European level for OA. LERU is very involved in the promotion of Open Access, particularly amongst European academic institutions. We have launched a petition, “Christmas is over”, which will be presented to the European Commission in 2016. We publish guides to help our members to take action within their institutions and we politically support the action of the European Commissioner for Research, Carlos Moedas, and also support the inclusion of an exception to copyright for text and data mining in future European legislation (see the press release on modernising EU copyright issued in Dec 2015).
Can Open Access have a positive effect on research careers?
What can scholars and/or administration do to promote openness to research?
“Institutions must provide their researchers with quality tools so that they can showcase their work easily.”
On the other hand, institutions must provide their researchers with quality tools so that they can showcase their work easily. They need to accompany them, support them, educate them, and inform them, for example on questions related to publication or research data copyright. Institutions should also encourage, promote and reward Open Access initiatives and good practices.
What are the challenges in advocating Open Access?
There are also political challenges to contend with due to powerful lobbies that are fighting the development of Open Access. In addition, from an economic standpoint, it is necessary to define new business models for publishing to avoid paying several times over for one and the same content, as is currently the case with the hybrid Gold publication system.
What still needs to be done to get more Open Access to research?
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