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VSNU stimulates open access dialogue with future scenarios

Open access is a polarizing theme in academia. Open access is about free, free online access to scientific information, such as publications and data. The Dutch government aims to achieve 2020% open access by 100. In the current coalition agreement, open access and open science are listed as standard. Since this has proven to be a challenge, the Association of Universities (VSNU) further stimulate the strategic dialogue on open access. She has chosen scenario planning to contribute neutrally to the debate.

Looking for a revenue model

Open access has many stakeholders, such as researchers, universities and publishers, but also society and even large technology companies such as Google and Apple. All these stakeholders have their own opinion about open access and why it is desirable or not. Researchers want to be recognized for their achievements, with recognized and exclusive journals such as Nature of Science playing an important role. At the same time, they, together with universities, want access to as many research results as possible to build on. Publishers are constantly looking for the best revenue model. For a long time this was based on the sale of subscriptions, but with open access this is increasingly shifting to a fee for the publication of articles and data.

“The scenarios show different futures that make us aware of what we need to pay extra attention to. They show the challenges we face in realizing the goal of 100% open access. They also provide insight into which instruments work best in which environment. ”
Darco Jansen, program manager Open Access VSNU

Four future scenarios

The scenarios were developed in a working group with stakeholders from various organizations (universities, NFU, NWO, KNAW, VH, SURF, Promovendi Netwerk Nederland, VSNU). The working group had good discussions about the trends and developments and the most important uncertainties. Ultimately, the choice was made for the degree of collaboration within the world of scientific communication on the one hand. The other core uncertainty is about ecosystems, and whether they are open or closed. This has to do with both technology and economic forces. The four scenarios were well received in the working group and provided insight into important challenges. Later this autumn, the working group will meet again to delve deeper into the strategic options for meeting the challenges.

Scenarios stimulate dialogue

For a theme such as open access, scenarios are pre-eminently the instrument for stimulating dialogue between different stakeholders. In a complex stakeholder field, in which there are conflicting and overlapping interests, future scenarios can provide a common starting point for the conversation. The scenarios themselves are apolitical and merely outline possible futures, regardless of whether they are desired or not. In this way, space is given to the different perspectives that are part of the debate about open access.

For more information about this project, please contact Linda Kaput.

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