Freedom of knowledge within the Nordic region?

The benefits of and obstacles for Open Access in Nordic research were the main topics at the NordBib workshop in Elsinore, Denmark, 23-24 April 2007. Participants identified political, financial, juridical and technical challenges associated with Open Access and suggested solutions that could help address these.
OA in Nordic Research – A Prerequisite for NORIA
Researchers want the results of their research to be disseminated broadly, quoted and used in their research communities; public funding bodies want enhanced diffusion of knowledge in society; politicians, the international research communities, students and the industry want free access to relevant research results – and on a Nordic level we need a strong Nordic Research and Innovation Area (NORIA). Open Access (OA) to research publications may help meet these different needs.

There is widespread agreement among most participants in the research funding, production and publication chain today that the outcome of public research – results, working papers, publications, data etc. – should be accessible for all. Nordic politicians and members of Nordic research communities, who share the goal of building a strong, collaborative NORIA, should be particularly motivated for contributing to well functioning OA solutions. Effective sharing of knowledge and results, as well as easy access to existing data shared through Open Access repositories, are efficient forms of research collaboration and might help attract more researchers and R&D industry partners into new Nordic collaboration initiatives.

NordBib work shop 2007: identifying the obstacles and finding the solutions
On 23-24 April, representatives from different research communities, publishing companies, research libraries, policy making organs, the Nordic research councils and other science and -publication funding bodies were gathered in Elsinore to discuss joint Nordic actions on Open Access to research data and publications. Some of the issues that were presented in the workshop sessions and further discussed during the two-day workshop were:
  • OA scientific publication requires reliable financial models that support a change from the “reader pays” system that is dominating today, to a “pay as you publish” system of Open Access publishing.
  • We will need the publishers in a future OA publishing world as well!
  • The system of peer review must also continue in OA publishing.
  • Public funding bodies must pay for OA publishing as part of the regular research support.
  • OA publishing should be a requirement for further funding. – but:
  • The researchers should be free to publish in the journals they choose.
  • We need user-friendly standard agreements between researchers or the research institutions and the publishers, ex.: the SPARC author addendum.
  • Easily applicable licenses must be provided to keep the researcher in control of the use and diffusion of his OA published works, and to make sure that all users attribute the works in the manner specified by the author. Ex: Creative Commons licenses (national licenses exist for Denmark, Sweden and Finland, a CC license for Norway is on its way).
  • Standards for indexing, storing etc. must be established to ensure correct search results and satisfactory retrieval from all Nordic OA repositories. An alternative solution to the standardisation challenges was also suggested: Open up the repositories and their meta structures and let Google do the indexing work! Some research libraries reported very good experiences from collaborations with Google on this.

There are already several OA initiatives in the Nordic Countries today, some of which were presented at the workshop. International tools and models that might provide interesting solutions in a Nordic context were also introduced.

For further information on some relevant topics, see: