Call for data repository policies to be harmonised and promoted across Europe

An association of European funding organisations – Science Europe – has proposed improving open access for European research by encouraging researchers to share their work via publically funded digital data repositories.

In an opinion paper, Science Europe’s scientific committee for the social sciences points out that researchers can legally deposit accepted versions of papers (after they have been peer reviewed but before they have been edited and formatted for publication by a journal) into repositories hosted by university libraries or research institutes. Research could then be made available to the public in the form of ‘digital drafts’, regardless of whether the eventual publication ends up being open access.

Through a joint effort between policymakers and research institutions that it calls ‘diamond engagement’ the committee says these practices could ‘help change the culture of academic publication where it is to be expected that first publication of research will be in OA digital repositories’.

Their proposal includes three key recommendations: the establishment of open access partnerships between stakeholders such as universities, researchers, libraries and institutional publishers; the standardisation of policies across Europe to make sure data repositories fit in with the requirements of researchers; and the development of systems to incentivise the use of these repositories.

‘The scientific committee would like to encourage research funders, managers of digital repositories, researchers and end users of research to combine forces to foster a culture that aims to ensure that all research outputs are available in an open, traceable and interoperable manner,’ the paper says.

They say these activities can exist in parallel with publishing practices such as gold open access, and suggest their plan could be carried out using existing initiatives such as OpenAIRE, a network that links open access data repositories across Europe.