The call for less restrictive scientific publishers and freer dissemination and reuse of research results by authors is getting louder. In a new joint declaration, 880 European universities, research organizations and science funders call on publishers to allow researchers to deposit their accepted manuscripts in a repository with an open license.

Members of the European University Association (EUA), Science Europe and CESAER – a non-profit association of leading scientific and technological universities in Europe – point out in their declaration that scientific publishers usually still require authors to sign exclusive publishing contracts that allow further use contain restrictions and embargoes on storage in open access repositories.

The joint statement, published on May 25, expresses particular concern about the “unclear and opaque communication and practice” of some publishers and urges them to modernize their “obsolete” systems.

“If a publisher or platform chooses to require authors to sign their rights, they should state this clearly and publicly to ensure researchers make informed decisions,” the statement said. In a broader sense, it suggests that the standard position of platforms and publishers should be to enable researchers to publish their results – including data and digital assets – while safeguarding their rights.

The signatories of the declaration support those exploring different models of open dissemination of research, including cOAlition S, a group of national funding agencies created to run the Plan S open access publications initiative.

“It is time to make Open Access an integral part of the research system,” said EEA President Michael Murphy. “Researchers need to be empowered by the freedom to choose where and how to publish their results – and that choice must include self-archiving their work in repositories to ensure green open access,” he added.

Marc Schiltz, President of Science Europe, emphasized that a manuscript is the intellectual creation of the authors, even after peer review. “Publishers have no legitimacy to transfer or restrict ownership of any form of manuscript. Given the current pandemic, embargo periods dictated by publishers seem hopelessly antiquated, ”he said.


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