Wilhelm Widmark, Library Director of Stockholm University Library, presented to the Cambridge University Press Global Library Advisory Board in November 2016 about the Swedish national policy for implementing Open Access (OA).

He explained that the Swedish Government had asked the Swedish Research Council to produce national guidelines for enabling open access to all scientific publications and artistic works publically funded by Sweden. This would include the research data forming the basis for all scientific publications.

The Government’s stipulated time frame is that by 2025,  Gold Open Access should be the business model used for all scholarly articles and books published in Sweden.  Achieving a similar result for research data will be more problematic, because this will depend in part on what kind of data it is; it is recognised that in some cases legal and commercial problems will arise.  The National Library will coordinate the Open Access initiative and the Research Council will coordinate the gathering and dissemination of research data.

Wilhelm Widmark
Wilhelm Widmark

The OA requirement has resulted in proposals for several other kinds of wide-reaching change, including new types of scholarly assesment, and a new reward evaluation system.  It is acknowledged that different approaches will have to be taken to different kinds of publication: articles, books, conference proceedings and artistic works.  New licences will have to be drawn up; a business model that works in the long term will have to be developed; and there will be issues of international co-operation to consider.

The Bibsam Consortium of Swedish academic institutions is working on achieving Gold OA by means of appropriate author / publisher licences.  It is formulating a strategy that will be used to inform all of the negotiations which will take place; part of its role will be to ensure that the strategy is understood at all universities at the management level.  Points currently under consideration are whether existing publisher deals should be cancelled if they don’t contain an OA component; and what sort of data Swedish Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are currently able to provide about take-up and costs of Article Processing Charges (APCs) so far.

One publisher’s model that is being experimented with is Springer Compact.  Springer is offering a transitional model that combines APC fees and licensing fees.  Under the terms of its contract, a researcher can publish accepted articles via Open Access, using the CC-BY licence, and automatically obtain access to all other Springer licensed material.  For the Springer licensed hybrid journals, the APC is €2200 per article.   Bibsam is piloting this model for two and a half years to test it and the processes involved, and to evaluate the implications for all stakeholders: researchers, universities, libraries and funders.  As payment is made in advance, the success of the model depends on the publisher and the university together being able to predict with reasonable accuracy the number of articles that will be published during the period covered.  This is quite tricky, as to date the number of articles approved per quarter has varied significantly.  However, being able to test the model has provided a concrete opportunity for Bibsam to explore some of the challenges that the Swedish OA initiative is likley to raise over the next eight years, including economic sustainability; resolving administrative issues, varying author and researcher attitudes; and how to achieve effective dissemination. Strategic discussions between the research funders, university management and the Ministry of Education are ongoing.

Members of the Press and the fifteen members of the CUP Global Library Advisory Board, who met Wilhelm at the Pitt Building in Cambridge, were very grateful for his insights.

We hope to continue to provide updates on the Swedish OA initiative as it unfolds.

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