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OpenAIRE - the European infrastructure for open access to research results.
In 2007, the European Union spent €228 billion ($301 billion) or 1.85% of GDP on research and development. “Europe 2020” - the European Union’s strategy for smart and sustainable growth in the coming decade – has an even bigger spending target of 3% of GDP by 2020, thus ensuring that Europe remains a world leader in investment in innovation. Now imagine if the results - data and publications - were freely available to scientists, researchers and citizens everywhere to turn innovative ideas into products and services that create growth and jobs, improve lives and help to build a better society. The first steps have already been taken, and OpenAIRE is making it happen.
Three developments mark out progress towards making open access the general principle for EU-funded research. The first was in December 2007 when the European Research Council (ERC) published open access guidelines for peer-reviewed publications from ERC-funded research projects. Then in August 2008, the European Commission began a pilot that required researchers funded under the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development - Europe’s main instrument for funding research - to deposit research outputs in open access repositories in seven thematic areas: health, energy, environment, ICT, research infrastructures, socio-economic sciences and humanities & science in society. Thirdly in December 2010, the OpenAIRE infrastructure was launched to realise the widespread adoption of these open access policies.
“The launch of OpenAIRE marks a very concrete step towards sharing the results of EU funded research to our mutual benefit. Scientific information has the power to transform our lives for the better – it is too valuable to be locked away. In addition, every EU citizen has the right to access and benefit from knowledge produced using public funds”, said Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President.
EIFL, a partner in OpenAIRE
EIFL is one of 38 partners from 27 European countries in this ambitious effort to construct a platform for the sharing of European-funded research results on a pan-European scale. The three-year project has established the supporting infrastructure for researchers to comply with the Commission’s open access policies. This is achieved by establishing a European Helpdesk network in 27 countries to ensure localised help for researchers; operating an electronic infrastructure for the repository networks, including a repository for researchers without institutional repositories; and exploring scientific data management services together with five disciplinary communities.
The role of EIFL is to coordinate OpenAIRE activities in ten eastern European countries: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Already, results are starting to show.
“Through its open access programme, EIFL has helped us greatly over the years to advance OA by providing information, key expert people and advocacy advice”, said Dr. Gintarė Tautkevičienė, EIFL-OA coordinator for Lithuania, and a researcher at Kaunas University of Technology (KTU). A partner in OpenAIRE, KTU supports local researchers in meeting the European OA mandate, and is adapting the data management policies for eLABa, the Lithuanian Academic e-Library, to comply with the new requirements. “This will achieve two important results”, continued Dr. Tautkevičienė, “It will promote unified search and access to articles, and will integrate eLABa into the international open access infrastructure”. The adoption in May 2009 of a new law on higher education and research requiring online access to publicly-funded research has also created pre-conditions for the acceleration of OA in Lithuania, leading to the introduction of open access institutional policies, for example, at the University of Vilnius (planned for 2011) and Vytautas Magnus University (on a voluntary basis). “Participation in EIFL-OA and OpenAIRE means that we can share knowledge about the evolving research policies and make a practical contribution to their implementation”, added Dr. Tautkevičienė.
The University of Ljubljana (UL), the largest research institution in Slovenia, acts as the National Open Access Desk for OpenAIRE, administering the deposit of peer reviewed research articles from European-funded research. Up until now, OA activities in Slovenia have largely been sporadic, without national coordination. A conference in October 2010 organised by the Slovenian Library Association, under the auspices of the Slovenian Research Agency, was co-sponsored by EIFL, and brought together for the first time international and Slovenian policy experts, researchers from a wide range of disciplines and other OA stakeholders to discuss open access to the achievements of Slovenian scientists. “The cooperation of Slovenia in OpenAIRE will promote OA issues in the Slovenian research community, such as the standardisation of deposit formats and copyright management, easing the establishment of a national open access infrastructure”, said Dr Mojca Kotar, University Office of Library Services. “We will see great strides in the opening up of Slovenian research results over the coming years, a goal for scientific progress and for society”.
OpenAIRE portal: www.openaire.eu