ALLEA advocates for EU-wide secondary publication rights and better negotiation of ‘big deals’

The European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities (ALLEA), which includes many ISC Members within Europe, has provided recommendations to work towards a more equitable system for sharing and accessing research publications.

Utrecht University Library
Netherlands

In the light of an increase in spending on scholarly publishing, and new rules on copyright law in the European Union (EU), ALLEA recently released a statement that evaluates the negative consequences of so-called ‘Big Deals’ and provides recommendations for research institutes, libraries and policy-makers to work towards change.

‘Big deals’, or ‘read and publish agreements’, are concluded between scientific publishers, on one side, and research libraries, institutions and universities, on the other, in order to provide access for readers and authors of scientific journals.

An increase in the number of articles published under a Gold Open Access model – and thus free to read – has come at the expense of the authors of scholarly publications, who often face substantial article processing charges (APCs) to publish their work as Open Access.

ALLEA argues that this model has led to a further increase in the already substantial amounts spent on scholarly publishing, and creates significant disadvantages for authors from the Global South, underfunded researchers in the social sciences and humanities, and early career researchers, among others. These inequities are explored in the ISC’s 2021 publication Opening the record of science: making scholarly publishing work for science in the digital era.

Chair of the ISC project on the Future of Scientific Publishing, and Member of the ISC Governing Board, Geoffrey Boulton, said:

“The rising number of Open Access publications is to be welcomed, but Open Access that depends on costly ‘read and publish agreements’ has created new barriers for authors, increasing the amounts spent on scholarly publishing and putting publication out of reach for many researchers. The most profound consequence of this system is a fracturing of the global science community.

The latest statement from ALLEA is significant recognition that those who fund and produce research – including individual scientists, university and library administrators, science councils, funders and policy-makers – should work together to ensure that the publishing ecosystem works in the best interests of the scholarly community it was originally developed to serve.”

The ALLEA statement also notes that current ‘Big Deals’ do not factor in the statutory free uses and sharing of research publications identified in EU and national copyright laws. In order to remedy this situation, and to arrive at a more equitable and affordable system, ALLEA recommends:

  1. Researchers and libraries to better consider their rights under the new EU copyright rules when negotiating the next generation of deals.
  2. Researchers and libraries to depart from the rights assignment model that still prevails today.
  3. Harmonisation of EU national copyright legislation and introduction of EU-wide Secondary Publication Rights without embargo.
  4. Further development of a community-driven non-profit publishing ecosystem.

Find out more and read the full statement on the ALLEA website.

In October 2021, Members of the International Science Council (ISC) adopted a resolution in favour of eight fundamental principles for scientific publishing, and committed to work towards reform of the publishing system.

Find out more about the ISC’s work on scientific publishing

Accessible publication of the results, data and ideas arising from research is a fundamental part of how science functions, how it advances, and how scientific evidence is used in different settings, from health care to disaster reponse to education.


Image by Alan Grinberg via Flickr.

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