Knowledge Rights 21 welcomes Council Conclusions on Scholarly Publishing

Knowledge Rights 21 today (23rd May 2023 ) warmly welcomes the announcement by the Council of the European Union of its Conclusions on High-quality, Transparent, Open, Trustworthy and Equitable Scholarly Publishing

Photo: JLogan, CC-BY-SA 30 Image of the Justus Lipsus Buidling (Council of Ministers of the European Union), Brussels,

In line with the Fifth Freedom of the European Union – the freedom of circulation of knowledge – action to address the misalignment of the current scholarly publishing system with the goals of supporting research is essential. The Council Conclusions provide an important reinforcement of this point.

In particular, Knowledge Rights 21 welcomes: 

  • The highlighting that immediate and unrestricted open access should be the norm in publishing research involving public funds and the need for transparent pricing;
  • The encouragement of Member States as well as the Commission in the context of ERA 2, to develop strategies and measures to support publicly funded research including the creation of roadmaps;
  • The recognition of the importance of open access to scholarly publications, including their reuse,as one of the core elements of an open science system;
  • The acknowledgement that the acceleration of open access will require work both at the level of legislation and policy, and steps to build and strengthen infrastructures, skills and cultures.
  • The encouragement of Member States and the Commission to invest in and foster interoperable, not-for-profit infrastructures for publishing based on open source software and open standards;
  • The upskilling of institutions and researchers on matters relating to intellectual property and the impacts of rights transfer or retention..
  • The encouragement of Member States and the Commission to address in a systemic manner the issue of predatory publishing;  

We welcome in particular the inclusion of a roadmap in the Conclusions, setting out actions to be taken in order to advance on priorities set out, and urge the Commission and Member States to: 

  • Set a calendar for reporting on progress towards updating their national open access policies and guidelines to make scholarly publications immediately openly accessible and reusable;
  • Advance necessary legislation as rapidly as possible, including a secondary publishing right, 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. Legislation should also remove any barriers to rights retention policies.
  • Establish ambitious timelines, in particular around the review of the ERA Policy Agenda, for exchange and investment in necessary publicly owned open science infrastructures and insights.
  • Establish means to support the upskilling of institutions, researchers and university leaders in the importance of intellectual property, and in particular the need for a better understanding of copyright and licensing.
  • Alongside efforts to address predatory publishing as conventionally understood, the Commission and Member States should look at how evolving investment patterns in platforms, workflow tools, software and repositories are impacting scientific innovation. 

Beyond what is in the Conclusions, we also underline that a comprehensive approach to reforming scholarly publishing must take account of the situation of eBooks, both as concerns steps to promote open access to new works, and addressing failures in the markets for existing ones.

We look forward to ongoing discussions with relevant stakeholders as to how best to develop strategies and regulations to support the transition to open science as soon as is practicable.

Further reading:

Knowledge Rights 21:

eBook position statement

Secondary publishing position statement


Scientific workflow acquisitions by Elsevier, Springer, Wiley, Google, Microsoft etc

Article on data extractivism and surveillance publishing