BM 62 – Free access to knowledge

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ESU would like to express its clear commitment to knowledge sharing efforts across Europe. Dissemination of knowledge is the foundation of active and dynamic higher education institutions and is an essential part of the academic community. A large part of research in Europe is either fully or partly publicly funded, but is not publicly available.

For society as a whole, free access to knowledge and research is a great advantage. Free access to the research and scientific work that is conducted at the Higher Education institutions are also a way of making the scientific work visible to the public and available for all. Furthermore, limiting access to knowledge stratifies differences between those with access and those without.
Despite its clear advantages, efforts to secure open, free and accessible scientific research has not been good enough.

The increasing price of scientific articles through journals is a reason for great concern. In a time when many institutions are struggling financially, publishers have increased the price of journals and now force HEIs to buy more journals than they want to, through the ”bundling” of journals. The profit for international  publishers have increased throughout the economic crisis in Europe because of price increases, even though cost of production is falling with increased digital publishing.

The international publisher Elsevier have come under heavy criticism for both price increases and bundling of journals, leading to an international boycott of their journals. ESU lends moral support  to the intentions of the boycott that now includes more than 10.000 individual researchers across the world.

ESU would like to underline that publicly funded research must be publicly available. The norm should be to publish in Open Access journals and that all scientific works should be stored in publicly run archives. In cases where publicly funded research is not published in Open Access journals, the research should be made publicly available no more than 6 months after being published. ESU support judicial processes now in motion in several countries to secure that publicly funded research is freely available to the public.

Spreading knowledge is in the public interest: it ensures that everyone has equal opportunity to participate in the scientific community; it increases transparency; it betters quality of research and increases the impact of research in society. ESU will therefore make the case for Open Access and knowledge dissemination with decision makers in Europe.


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