Mission Statement at the Berlin 11 Open Access Conference of the Max Planck Society (20 Nov 2013)

Ten Years After the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities

The 2003 Berlin Declaration asserted that scholarly research results and cultural heritage shall be freely accessible and usable for scientists and the public. A fundamental premise of the declaration is that Open Access (OA) is a responsibility of research performing organisations and research funding organisations, and that the publication and dissemination of research results are integral parts of the research process.

In the ten years since, the signatories of the Berlin Declaration and many other organisations have fostered a remarkable growth of OA, by supporting repositories, OA publishing, and campaigns to raise awareness of OA in the scientific, publishing, and political communities. But still only about 10% of peer-reviewed articles are published in OA journals. We believe that the most important goal for the coming years is to ensure that 90% of the scholarly research literature is published with an OA model, in order to exploit the innovative and transformational potential of OA. OA at this level will not only greatly benefit research; experience with the Internet has shown that open information will also stimulate a great deal of new information-based economic activity. It is of paramount importance that this transition to OA must preserve or even improve on the quality standards of the present subscription-based model.

We call on the signatories of the Berlin Declaration and on all other organisations that perform or support scholarly research to:

  1. increase the support for and interoperability of OA repositories for scholarly materials, while reducing and where possible eliminating embargoes, and improving the ability to re-use works;
  2. support new and innovative OA publishing models that meet the highest possible scholarly standards, and invest into a publication infrastructure optimised for the needs of research and scholarship; and
  3. cooperate with one another to ensure a smooth transition to a stable and functioning, truly open scholarly publishing system, including access to scholarly source and cultural heritage data, where the full text of every research work is open immediately upon publication.

We therefore urge research organisations to work together internationally and intensively to formulate a viable, coordinated and transparent strategy to enable a transition to a system where OA publishing is the norm. This strategy should address the following key issues:

a) Standards: Establish a shared definition of OA, based on that in the Berlin Declaration, which includes an appropriate license enabling maximum re-use of published material, with full attribution. The definition of OA should set standards to allow the widest sharing, re-use, and computational analysis of the scholarly literature, and insist that data supporting the research results should also be openly accessible.

b) Quality: Ensure the quality of the published literature by expecting appropriate selectivity and high standards of scholarship in OA publications. No research work by any scholar should be prevented from being published in such an OA journal by the lack of funding for OA publishing fees. Organisations should encourage new and more effective OA-based methods for peer review and for the assessment of the impact and quality of published works.

c) Stability: Adopt mutually compatible policies that will allow scholars access to funding for OA publishing fees, and find comparable ways to support or subsidise no-fee OA journals. These policies should permit the greatest possible re-purposing of money currently used for subscriptions into funding for such fees and subsidies, and they should create a truly competitive, efficient, and scalable market where publishers compete with one another for the best scholarly publications. They must also ensure permanent open access to complete archives of the published literature. Stability and effectiveness must be monitored.

d) Transition: Cooperate to create coordinated and transparent policies and reward systems that enable a smooth transition of the scholarly research literature according to an agreed roadmap, from its present domination by subscription-based journals to the OA model outlined above. Such policies should include, for example, progressive conversion of subscription funds into OA publishing funds and enhanced recognition for OA publications.

We believe that a stable, competitive, and quality-assured OA research publishing system offers immense benefits not only to scholarship but also to society as a whole. Scholarly publishing is a global activity, and organisations that perform and support research, particularly those using public money, have a responsibility to work together globally to realise these benefits. It is time to return control of scholarly publishing to the scholars.

November 2013

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