ICSU consults membership on open access

Seeking to clarify its position on the related issues of open access publication of scientific literature and evaluation of research by metrics, ICSU has reached out to its membership organizations for their input. The results of this process may lead to corresponding resolutions being proposed to the General Assembly in September 2014.

The issues surrounding open access to scientific literature and data have become impossible for scientists to ignore, as national and supra-national funding agencies increasingly push that the results of the research they fund are freely available to all. Some new publication models require authors to pay a fee for the publication of their work, while many existing subscription based journals and books have high subscription fees.

A new emphasis on open access to data, increasingly important in this data rich science era, is raising further issues regarding security, ethics, intellectual property rights, formal publication of data, incentives to scientists to provide their data and more.

With research funders, universities and governments increasingly relying on quantitative metrics, in particular based on citation statistics, to evaluate universities, departments and individuals, there is also pressure on researchers to adopt practices that maximize these metrics.

ICSU has asked its members to comment in general on these interrelated issues, and specifically in relation to the following questions:

  • What requirements do funders of research in your country or subject area currently make, or plan to make, as regards open access publication, including open access to data? What advantages and disadvantages do you see in such open access requirements, whether in your country/subject area or elsewhere?
  • To what extent are metrics being used to evaluate universities, departments and individuals in your country or subject area, what metrics are used, and how are these influencing publication trends and incentives for researchers?
  • What useful role, if any, do you think ICSU can play in these matters?

Members are invited to provide their input through the usual channels, if you have any questions on this, please do not hesitate to contact webmaster@icsu.org.