The road to open access

Open access publishing of scientific research has been a goal in academia for years. For politicians, funding organisations and publishers, too, it is a point of increasing interest. In 2013, a letter to parliament written by State Secretary Sander Dekker caused the issue to rapidly gain momentum. A timeline of fifteen key moments.

State Secretary Sander Dekker (Ministry of Education, Culture and Science) expresses his support for open access to scientific publications in a letter to the Lower House of the Dutch Parliament. He states that publicly funded research should be freely accessible. Dekker chooses the ‘gold route’. The Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) agrees that the gold route is the most future-proof solution, but warns of substantial additional costs for universities.


In a letter to academia, the VSNU writes that researchers can play a vital role in the transition to open access. They can deposit their articles in the repository of their own university. And at least as important, they can use every available opportunity to make publishers aware of the need to switch to an open access model.


20 November 2014

Deal with

publisher Springer


Springer Publishing and the Dutch universities reach an agreement on the transition to open access. ‘We’re confident that this agreement with Springer marks a key step in the right direction’, says Koen Becking, president of Tilburg University and chief negotiator for the VSNU. Springer  explains what this means for Dutch scientists and academics.

28 January 2015

Open access focal point during EU presidency


The Netherlands reveals its plans for the EU presidency in the first half of 2016, and open access is designated as a focal point. The aim is to give open access a boost during that period, both nationally and internationally.



18 March 2015

LERU: ‘Open access

is an opportunity’


The League of European Research Universities (LERU) – in which 21 prominent research universities are united – calls for the publishing system to be transformed. ‘Open Access is not a

threat, but an opportunity – an opportunity to develop a sophisticated model for the delivery of European research. Universities and publishers should work together to maximise the dissemination of research outputs and devise financial models which support the move to a sustainable Open Access future’.


In October 2015, LERU underlined this plea by starting the petition, 'Christmas is over'. The petition is directed at the Netherlands, which is serving as EU President in the first half of 2016, and calls on the European Commission to join with all stakeholders to transition to open access in order to avoid public funds being unnecessarily spent on publisher's fees and to make research results freely available to the public.



12 October 2015

Linguists go their own way with LingOA


A group of leading international linguists aim to make accessibility to academic research results less dependent on expensive commercial publishers. They say goodbye to their current publisher and start publishing their articles in a form that is freely accessible to the entire community at very little cost. This unique initiative is launched in the name of LingOA. Universities support this important step towards open access.

16 September and 22 October 2015

Austria and England follow the Netherlands’ example


Universities abroad also start negotiating with publishers on open access. Austrian universities reach an agreement with Springer. A month later, British universities reach an agreement with the same publisher.

10 December 2015

Deal with Elsevier


It took one and a half years, but an agreement is finally reached between the Dutch universities and Elsevier, to the satisfaction of both parties. Philippe Terheggen, Managing Director of Journals at Elsevier: ‘Continuing subscription-based access to our high-quality, peer-reviewed scientific articles is essential for the Netherlands to maintain its position as one of the most influential research countries. In addition, Dutch scientists and academics have more open access publication opportunities to share their research findings with the rest of the world.’



First quarter 2015

Financial backers make open access mandatory


Several financial backers make open access mandatory. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation explains: ‘We have adopted an Open Access policy that enables the unrestricted access and reuse of all peer-reviewed published research funded, in whole or in part, by the foundation, including any underlying data sets.’ On 3 March, Canadian financial backers make open access mandatory.



3 March 2015

Open access

in copyright


Due to a motion by member of the Lower House Joost Taverne (VVD), copyright law enshrines an author’s right to publish an article in open access format. This is permitted after a reasonable period after initial publication to enable the publisher to recoup their investment.


Joost Taverne

2 July 2015

Deal with Sage


Yet another publisher enters into an agreement with universities on open access. This time it is the publisher Sage, a world-leading independent publisher of scientific journals and books in the Social and Behavioural Sciences



2 July 2015

VSNU considers

boycott of Elsevier


After negotiations with Elsevier come to a standstill in June, Dutch universities consider boycotting one of the world’s largest scientific publishers. The hundreds of scientists and academics working as chief editor at one of the 2,200 Elsevier journals are approached with the question of whether they would consider leaving their jobs.

19 August 2015

EU launches pilot


The EU is also committed to open access. The European Commission launches a pilot enabling researchers to apply in retrospect for funding to publish in an open access format. Two months later, State Secretary Dekker and member of the European Commission Moedas publish a joint statement on open access. Moedas: ‘I believe that much efforts need to be done by the main publishers to adjust their business models to the realities of the 21st century.’


1 December 2015

NWO makes open access mandatory


The NWO makes open access mandatory by changing grant conditions. Henceforth, all publications resulting from an NWO ‘call for proposals’ must be accessible to the public immediately at the time of publication.


3 Februari 2016

Agreement with

the publisher Wiley


The Dutch universities have negotiated an agreement with Wiley for the period 2016-2019. The agreement provides that academics and students associated with Dutch universities will have access to all articles published in Wiley's scholarly journals and will be able to publish articles open access in all of Wiley's approximately 1,400 hybrid journals. Researchers will no longer owe any additional fees (APCs) to publish open access. ‘In this new landscape, we support the ambitions of all community stakeholders, including researchers, funders and institutions – by facilitating greater openness and ultimately increased reproducibility.’ according to Philip Carpenter, EVP Research, Wiley.