Ensuring open access to scientific publications is an overall research policy objective in an international context. In Norway, open access has been listed as an important objective in the Government’s white paper on research. It is also in keeping with changes in the research community in recent years with regard to technological solutions, publication patterns and reading habits
“With this scheme we hope to facilitate a more rapid transition to open access publishing of Norwegian research,” says Arvid Hallén, Director General of the Research Council.
This is important for giving all interested parties free access to new research results as soon as they are published,” he says.
The institutions are in the midst of a costly transition period in which they must maintain their journal subscriptions as well as pay fees to open access journals. The new funding scheme will is thus meant to make this period manageable for the institutions.
The Research Council has calculated that the institutions currently pay about NOK 16 million annually (EUR 190,000) in fees for publishing in open access journals. Roughly half of the published articles are based on research funded by the Research Council.
The Research Council is now setting aside NOK 8 million per year for the new scheme, which is open to all Norwegian research institutions and is not limited to articles funded by the Research Council. The scheme’s financial framework may be expanded if this is warranted by the volume of publications.
The research institutions may apply for funding to cover up to 50 per cent of their expenses related to publishing in open access journals. The costs will be covered in arrears. The funding announcement that applies to costs incurred in 2014 will therefore be issued in April 2015. The individual institution must seek funding on behalf of its researchers.
The most important requirement to receive funding is that the journals in which the articles are published must be open access journals at levels 1 or 2 in the registry of publication channels from the Norwegian Association of Higher Education Institutions. In addition, universities and university colleges are required to have established their own publication funds.
More information about the scheme will be available in the funding announcement to be issued in spring 2015.
The funding scheme is a step in developing a good framework for dealing with publication fees in the research system. In the long term such costs should be treated as general operating costs similar to expenses for journal subscriptions incurred by libraries today.
“The funding scheme will be in place during the transition period while the research institutions develop systems for dealing with it,” explains Mr Hallén.
The Research Council’s scheme is therefore limited to a five-year period. Beginning in 2020, the aim is that publication costs will be incorporated as part of the institutions’ indirect costs in grant applications for project funding.