New report confirms positive momentum for EU open science

Gerry O'Sullivan

Posted: 6 September, 2021

The European Commission has released the results and datasets of a study monitoring the open access mandate in Horizon 2020. With a steady increase over the years and an average success rate of 83% open access to scientific publications, the European Commission is at the forefront of research and innovation funders concluded the consortium formed by the analysis company PPMI (Lithuania), research and innovation centre Athena (Greece) and Maastricht University (the Netherlands).

The Commission sought advice on a process and reliable metrics through which to monitor all aspects of the open access requirements in Horizon 2020, and inform how to best do it for Horizon Europe – which has a more stringent and comprehensive set of rights and obligations for Open Science.

The key findings of the study indicate that the early European Commission’s leadership in the Open Science policy has paid off. The Excellent Science pillar in Horizon 2020 has led the success story, with an open access rate of 86%. Of the leaders within this pillar are the European Research Council (ERC) and the Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) programme, with open access rates of over 88%.

Other interesting facts:

  • In terms of article processing charges (APCs), the study estimated the average cost in Horizon 2020 of publishing an open access article to be around EUR 2,200.  APCs for articles published in ‘hybrid’ journals (a cost that will no longer be eligible under Horizon Europe), have a higher average cost of EUR 2,600.
  • Compliance in terms of depositing open access publications in a repository (even when publishing open access through a journal) is relatively high (81.9%), indicating that the current policy of depositing is well understood and implemented by researchers.
  • Regarding licences, 49% of Horizon 2020 publications were published using Creative Commons (CC) licences, which permit reuse (with various levels of restrictions) while 33% use publisher-specific licences that place restrictions on text and data mining (TDM).
  • Institutional repositories have responded in a satisfactory manner to the challenge of providing FAIR access to their publications, amending internal processes and metadata to incorporate necessary changes: 95% of deposited publications include in their metadata some type of persistent identifier (PID).
  • Datasets in repositories present a low compliance level as only approximately 39% of Horizon 2020 deposited datasets are findable, (i.e., the metadata includes a PID and URL to the data file), and only around 32% of deposited datasets are accessible (i.e., the data file can be fetched using a URL link in the metadata).  Horizon Europe will hopefully allow to achieve better results.
  • The study also identified gaps in the existing Horizon 2020 open access monitoring data, which pose further difficulties in assessing compliance. Self-reporting by beneficiaries also highlighted a number of issues.

Together with the study, the Commission made the whole dataset that underlies the publication open access on Data Europa EU, as well as making, a database description and the data management plan (DMP) available for anyone to use and re-use.

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