Spain adopts national open access strategy

04 May 2023 | News

Government has approved a €23.8M per year scheme to make all publicly-funded research free to access as soon as it is published

Spain has approved a four-year national strategy for open science, under which all outputs of publicly financed research will made available free upon publication.

Under the strategy open access will become the default mode for all research funded directly or indirectly, with public funds.

The government hopes this will strengthen the quality and transparency of science in Spain, disseminating knowledge sooner and underpinning moves to a digital, low carbon economy.

A budget of €23.8 million in 2023 will be maintained annually until 2027.

This move mirrors the EU’s ambition to move towards majority open access scientific publishing, to enable research results to be shared more widely and thus increase impact.

The movement picked up steam in 2018 when a group of major research funding and performing organisations banded together under the EU’s “Plan S” publishing initiative, committing to publish in paywall-free journals.

Despite the momentum on one side of the equation, the transition towards open science hasn’t been smooth, because scientific publishing is a big business. In place of subscriptions publishers have introduced article processing charges (APCs) that are paid by the authors, for which read the research funding body. These can amount to several thousands euros per article. In France, public funders spent €30 million in 2020 and expenditure on APCs has tripled in the last decade.

EU member states will take aim at what they see as unsustainable fees later this month with a call for immediate and unrestricted open access publishing to be “the default mode in publishing, with no fees for authors.”

Spain’s open science policy

Open access: Make paywall-free scientific publishing the default for publicly funded research.

Build digital infrastructures to support this: These need to be robust and interoperable, enabling wide-scale open access publishing and the integration of the Spanish national system into the European open science ecosystem, including the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC).

Better data management: The strategy aims to promote the FAIR principles of findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable.

Reform research evaluation: There will be new ways to evaluate and incentivise research, in line with open science practices. This means reducing reliance on bald statistics such as the number of papers a scientist publishes and the impact factor of the journals they appear in, to measures that better reflect research quality and recognise the societal impact of research.

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