The Netherlands:

paving the way for open access

Publicly funded scientific research should be freely accessible. With this basic principle firmly in mind, negotiations were started in 2014 with eight large national and international scientific publishers, which have already borne fruit. The Netherlands is the fastest growing open access country in the world. Globally, the Netherlands is even considered a change agent, paving the way for other countries with open access ambitions.

Results of scientific research are published in scientific journals with high subscription fees. The Dutch universities united in the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU), and the Dutch university libraries and the National Library of the Netherlands (working together in the UKB consortium) believe that everyone should have open access to science. After all, most research is publicly funded. In addition, open access is good for Dutch researchers; the publications are easier to find on the internet and are therefore more frequently cited.


State Secretary Dekker of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) has fired the starting shot in connection with open Gerard Meijer, Koen Becking, Jaap Winteraccess. Dekker’s aim is that in 2018, 60% of Dutch scientific publications will be open access, rising to as much as 100% by 2024. Open access is a key point on the agenda during the Dutch presidency of the EU.


On behalf of the UKB, VSNU and SURF (the collaborative organisation for ICT in Dutch education and research), Gerard Meijer (President of the Executive Board of Radboud University Nijmegen), Koen Becking (President of the Executive Board of Tilburg University) and Jaap Winter (President of the Executive Board of the VU University Amsterdam) launched talks with eight major publishers, which together account for 70 to 80 per cent of the turnover of all Dutch scientific publications. This has led to important agreements with publishers such as Springer (20 November 2014), Wiley, Sage (2 July 2015), Elsevier (10 December 2015). Constructive talks are underway with the other publishers and new agreements are expected.


The Dutch negotiations have not gone unnoticed. ‘Dutch lead European push to flip journals to open access’, Nature headlined on 6 January 2016. In this article, the author states that ‘the Netherlands is leading what it hopes will be a pan-European effort in 2016 to push scholarly publishers towards open-access (OA) business models’.


Efforts by major institutions such as the Max Planck Society and various bottom-up initiatives in the field, such as the linguists at Lingua, are now helping to spread open access more quickly.


The train has left the station and we are on a clear course to achieving State Secretary Dekker’s goal. There is no going back now!


Key issues


Where does this enthusiasm come from? Moreover, what exactly is the Dutch approach? In this e zine, we will discuss all the key issues: the need for open access, the ways to achieve it, the views of the different actors and a timeline with key national and international developments in the field. Finally, we will unravel the successful Dutch lobby (what were the critical success factors?), and look ahead to the future: what are the next steps to be taken?


The Netherlands is leading what it hopes will be a pan-European effort in 2016 to push scholarly publishers towards

open-access (OA) business models.


Declan Butler



The VSNU is currently negotiating with the following eight major publishers:


1.  Elsevier

2. Springer

3. Sage

4. Wiley

5. Oxford University Press (OUP)

6. Taylor & Francis

7. American Chemical Society (ACS)

8. Kluwer