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University of Groningen Library Open access News

Meet Giulia Trentacosti, Open Access and Scholarly Communication Specialist (2023)

26 June 2023
Giulia Trentacosti
Giulia Trentacosti
The University of Groningen (UG) ranks first worldwide in the field of open access, according to the 2023 Leiden Ranking. In this interview with Giulia Trentacosti, we explore the status of open access at the UG. Giulia works as an Open Access and Scholarly Communication Specialist at the University of Groningen Library (UB).
“Reaching (almost) 100% open access is a huge milestone for the UG, as it means that a large part of the knowledge produced by our university is openly available to the public, ultimately resulting in a wider circulation of our research results and a higher academic and societal impact.”
Why is it that the university ranks highest in terms of open access according to the Leiden Ranking? And exactly how well are we doing?

In 2021 and 2022, almost 100% of the UG’s output was open access - 97% to be exact. This share concerns research articles and conference proceedings; it does not include books and book chapters. The steep rise of our open access uptake in the last two years is due to the implementation of the open access procedural regulations.

The regulations stipulate that, as of May 2021, all closed access short publications (articles and chapters) by UG/UMCG authors are automatically made open access via the institutional repository six months after publication. This is possible thanks to the legal backing of Article 25fa of the Dutch Copyright Act, also known as Taverne amendment. It grants Dutch-affiliated authors the right to make their short academic works open to the public for free after a short embargo period. The UB and the Central Medical Library are responsible for implementing the regulations and opening up eligible publications.

Reaching (almost) 100% open access is a huge milestone for the UG, as it means that a large part of the knowledge produced by our university is openly available to the public, ultimately resulting in a wider circulation of our research results and a higher academic and societal impact.

What has changed since our last interview in 2019?

Within the UG, one of the main changes is certainly the introduction of the regulations described above which led to achieving almost 100% open access in just a few months. Furthermore, we recently updated the institutional open access policy. The policy is accompanied by a decision tree illustrating to authors how to publish open access in a clear way.

Other recent developments concern the introduction of two new pilot funding instruments for open access: the open access book fund and the diamond open access fund. The open access book fund aims to stimulate the publication of open access monographs and edited volumes. The fund covers (part of) the open access fee, also known as Book Processing Charge (BPC) and the maximum reimbursement is €8,000 per application. The fund was initially supposed to run until August 2023, but given its popularity, the budget is running out earlier than expected.
The diamond open access fund supports diamond open access initiatives by UG/UMCG researchers and can be used to expand and improve existing diamond open access initiatives or to start new ones e.g., flipping a subscription journal to diamond open access or starting a new journal. Eligible initiatives can request a one-off contribution of up to €5,000. The fund will run until August 2023.
The continuation of both funds beyond the pilot phase is conditional on funding renewal by the UG. Given that there is a clear demand for these funds, we hope to be able to continue with them in the future.

On an international level, more stringent funder mandates have come into force as of January 2021. At the time of our first interview (2019), Plan S had just been announced and had caused quite a stir in the research community. While understanding and complying with these policies can be complex and daunting for researchers, we also see that funder mandates like Plan S are an essential driver in accelerating the transition to open access. Our team advises grantees and prospective grantees on how to fulfill funder open access requirements, both in the pre-award and post-award phases. We recently compiled an FAQ specifically on this topic.

How do you encourage researchers to publish open access? And, how do you support researchers that want to publish open access?

On a general level, another shift that took place over the course of the last few years is that we don’t really have to “persuade” authors to publish open access anymore. The large majority of authors realize the added value of publishing open access in terms of visibility and impact for their research.

The daily job of our open access support team involves ensuring the smooth running of the UNL open access agreements, managing the open access support inbox, handling the book fund and the diamond open access fund, monitoring the UG’s open access performance, advising authors about funding opportunities, Creative Commons licenses, funder requirements, predatory publishing practices, providing webinars and workshops about open access for PhD students and staff members, as well as raising awareness about new developments and highlighting best practices via various communication channels, e.g. the Open Science Newsletter and the Open Science Blog.

What are your priorities in the coming period?

While having reached almost 100% open access is a great step forward, we can’t rest on our laurels since this type of delayed open access (with a six month embargo) is not compatible with Plan S requirements for immediate open access. In the coming years, we’ll look more into an institutional Rights Retention Strategy as a possible solution to this problem.

Another priority is accelerating the transition to open access for all types of academic publications. So far, most of the efforts have been centered on articles and, as a result, books are lagging behind. The open access book fund is one way for the UG to stimulate the transition to open access for books; another way is supporting initiatives for open access books which are not based on a BPC model, in other words, they don’t follow the pay-to-publish approach.

Diamond open access is also a key priority area for us. Diamond open access initiatives (journals, publication platforms, etc.) are free to access/read and free to publish in (no Article Processing Charges or Book Processing Charges). These initiatives operate on a smaller scale compared to commercial players and their operating costs are usually a fraction of those associated with pay-to-publish open access. They rely on external funding to remain operational, with funds mostly coming from university libraries, academic institutions, research funders or government grants.
The library already provides financial support to various international diamond open access initiatives and open access infrastructures. In addition, the library is home to our own in-house diamond open access publishing house, University of Groningen Press. Going forward, we want to continue supporting community-driven initiatives that provide a sustainable, equitable and affordable alternative to large commercial publishers.

Lastly, the costs associated with pay-to-publish (or APC-based) open access are extremely high and are constantly growing. Our main concern is the financial sustainability of the current open access business model and the inequality that it perpetuates between higher- and lower-income countries and institutions. Our priority in the coming years will be to avoid price increases for our open access agreements and investing our financial resources in sustainable and fairly priced publishing initiatives and open infrastructures.

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Last modified:20 September 2023 3.47 p.m.
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