Open Access: A view from Denmark
Anna Mette Morthorst is Open Access coordinator at the Royal Danish Library. Her job entails OA advocacy, and OA policy work, primarily for Aarhus University. Open Access sits well with the Danish principle of allowing any Danish citizen to use any of Denmark’s libraries, university or public, though the libraries of course observe rules about who is eligible for remote access of paid-for publications.
It is only since January this year that she has been employed by the Royal Danish Library, which is a completely new organisation comprising a merger of two national libraries within Denmark and three out of the eight Danish university libraries. It is a very complex organisation, but Open Access will certainly remain important; her job role may change accordingly. She was interviewed for the present article in the same week that a new national task force was set up to investigate how national solutions may be decided and delivered across all Denmark’s university libraries. Anna “hopes that this will not become a bureaucracy – it should be more of a lighthouse, both innovative and collaborating closely with all the stakeholders”. She says that the nearest approximation in the UK regarding the joined university support probably is the Senate House Library, which serves all the London universities.
Anna worked at Aarhus University Library for twenty-five years and still has connections with it – there was also one brief interlude in her career working in a public library. She has occupied many roles, working in licensing and student support as well as Open Access. She has been the chair of the Danish national consortia group for DEFF. It effects collaboration between two ministries and all university libraries.
Of her professional achievements, she is proud of having contributed to co-ordinating licensing issues for Danish universities, and of the past two years’ work spent focusing on Open Access. She has made strenuous efforts to increase awareness of the opportunities which OA offers at university level and for researchers. “Open Access has been on the political agenda for a long time, but there was no co-ordinated effort until I got the job.”
Briefly, here is Anna’s explanation of the current status of Open Access in Denmark:
In 2014 a national Green Open Access strategy was launched and a steering committee for OA was set up, followed up by the Danish OA Indicator in 2016. The indicator counts OA compliance with a two-year delay. 36% OA was achieved at the last release, which counted 2016 publications. Only articles from fully OA journals and articles from hybrid or subscription journals being parallel-published with a maximum 12-month embargo are included. The goal is to achieve 100% peer-reviewed articles via OA publication by 2022.
Denmark was an early adopter of a Green Open Access strategy; it was one of few European Countries recognizing that the Gold OA business model, with its potential for double- dipping, was not sustainable.
There are a lot of stakeholders in Denmark interested in Open Access. Researchers sit in the middle of what can sometimes be conflicting demands: although they are the ones producing the research, they are being pressured from all sides.
In 2012 the 5 big funders in Denmark had already mandated OA from the researchers they funded – primarily Green OA with permission from the publisher. Gold OA may also be funded in certain circumstances. And although there is a Green strategy, it is a fact that Danish universities spend money on Gold OA alongside the public and private funders, even if indirectly, by awarding research grants.
Anna says “Right now there is no complete overview of how much is spent on Gold – we’re trying to collect the data. So a national project (OAM.DK) currently focuses on how to monitor Gold OA. The libraries need better invoice data from publishers. Metadata needs to be shown on invoices, including DOIs.”
The DEFF is negotiating on behalf of the universities to secure conditions underpinning the strategy, among the most important of which is a shorter embargo period. It agrees with the LIBER principles of negotiation with publishers, including “No OA, no price increase.”
Aarhus University supports Green OA. The Library is in charge of the implementation process. This is challenging: different research areas have different perspectives. Some researchers don’t know about OA at all. “It is a long process,” Anna comments. “There is an ongoing education and advocacy campaign. It is moving in the right direction, but slowly.”
The problems for the Library when it is helping researchers to publish via OA include dealing with legal issues, clearing copyright and identifying and getting manuscripts, which is hard if there are different versions of the same articles. More consistent metadata for all versions of manuscripts would help the Library tremendously.
Anna thinks that publishers should provide more help with the following: clear metadata; clear CC licenses; sending articles directly to the repository and the author; facilitating acceptance of deposit when signing contracts to comply with funders requirements; no embargoes. She won’t venture to speculate what the future outcome of these many issues might be.
She knows that some Danish stakeholders are looking with interest at the German approach.
Away from her professional life, Anna is a busy mother – she has four children, the youngest of whom is now fourteen. One of her favourite activities is cooking; she says she loves nature – and though not being a professional walker, she loves views and natural panoramas.
Anna Mette Morthorst would like to emphasise that the views that she expresses in this article are hers alone and may not represent the “official” stance taken by the Danish political system.