European Council Draft Conclusions on Scholarly Publishing – Support  for Secondary Publishing Rights

Knowledge Rights 21 wishes to express its strong support for the European Council’s “Draft Council Conclusions on high-quality, transparent, open, trustworthy and equitable scholarly publishing” of 1st March 2023 in its call for further Member State and Commission efforts to support open science.

Science is the central catalyst for the development of our economy and society. It drives advances in the health, bioscience, agriculture, technology and the environmental sectors to name but a few. And yet, publicly funded research is still hampered by outmoded publishing models which deny free access to those who fund it – the taxpayer – and therefore acts to slow the pace at which new discoveries and advances in society can be made.

Despite great strides having been taken to support new forms of publishing in the form of open access over the last twenty years, we are still far from where we need to be. Open-access models that require article-processing charges (APCs) are unsustainable and simply create new paywalls which ignores the urgent need for new and sustainable publishing models for the dissemination of research.

In this context we welcome the spotlight that the Council’s draft conclusions place on the urgent need for immediate and unrestricted access to publicly funded research publications. As highlighted by the Council, the introduction of Secondary Publishing Rights in a number of European countries is a welcome development. Furthermore, we support the Council’s call on Member States to update their national open access policies and guidelines as soon as possible to make scholarly publications immediately openly accessible under open licences and to make research data FAIR*.

Outside of the comprehensive solution that Secondary Publishing Rights offer, we welcome the support from the Council for capacity-building and skills development around  transfer of rights to publishers and the importance of strategic management of IP which can complement such a legislative approach. 

Twenty years after the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities is long enough –  it is time for the institutions of the European Union to take legislative action and support the ‘fifth freedom’ of the European Union – the free flow of knowledge. To maximise the speed at which sometimes life-saving research can be disseminated and used to support the many challenges we as a society face, we urge the Commission to adopt a Secondary Publishing Rights Regulation which creates an obligation on researchers, funders and their institutions to immediately republish publicly funded research on the open web, free of restrictions on use. 

*Findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable.

Further reading:

Knowledge Rights 21 Secondary Publishing Right Position Statement

LIBER Zero Embargo Model law