Although the document is not legally binding, it aims to end the current situation where European-funded research results (ie paid with public funds) are not necessarily made publicly available and may be accessible by subscribing to scientific publications.

In addition, open access to scientific evidence can accelerate innovation and avoid duplication of research efforts. It is opened to consultation (informally) by stakeholders and will be examined by the European Parliament and the Council.

The ’Communication on scientific information in the digital age’ deals with two key issues:

1. how to improve access to scientific information (both publications and data) in the digital age and;

2. how to keep digital scientific information accessible and usable for future generations.

It takes stock on the 2003 Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities which sets put that free access to scientific contributions must be considered as a principle.

The European Commission plans to take the following steps:

- improve access to Community-funded research results, by funding the costs of open access publishing and by providing guidelines on publishing articles in open repositories after an embargo period within specific research programmes.

- co-funding of research infrastructures (in particular online free repositories) and projects relevant for access and preservation of scientific information. In total some €85 million have been earmarked to this during 2007-2008, especially in FP7 (the research framework programme)

- study on the economic impact of digital preservation

- strengthening the policy coordination of Member State actions and the policy debate with stakeholders. Research institutes and public health advocates are strongly encouraged to participate in the debate. In addition, the first step of the consultation procedure was a conference organised in Brussels in February: the Scientific Publishing in the European Research Area conference.

P.S.

EPHA participates in the SPHERE Project - Strengthening Public Health Research in Europe, which takes into account the interaction and needs of policy-makers, the scientific community and end users, and how research outcomes can be best integrated into the policy process. It will also contribute to developing the public health research within the Seventh Framework Research Programme.

Last modified on March 8 2012.