Brussels, 15 February 2007
Scientific information in the digital age:
Ensuring current and future access for research and
Access to research results has a significant role
to play in driving innovation and maintaining the quality of research.
Developments in digital technology challenge existing business models and
practices for making research results available, and with open access research
funding bodies are taking different approaches. The Commission has therefore
today launched a policy document to examine how new digital technologies can be
better used to increase access to research publications and data as an important
driver for innovation in our increasingly knowledge-based economy. With this new
approach, the Commission launches an EU-level framework to support new ways of
promoting better access to scientific information online and to preserve
research results digitally for future generations. The Commission's ideas will
be discussed at a major conference in Brussels on 15 and 16 February. This
conference follows on from an expert study commissioned in 2006.
"The digital revolution has dramatically improved the way in which
scientific information is spread," said Viviane Reding, Commissioner for
Information Society and Media. "But it also raises new questions about how to
preserve scientific information for the future. Today's strategy outlines how
Europe can best capitalise on the excellent work of its researchers."
"New ideas are usually built on the results of previous research,"
added Janez Potočnik, Commissioner for Science and Research. "We
must make sure that the flow of scientific information contributes to innovation
and research excellence in the European Research Area".
This Communication provides an objective overview of the current state of
play in Europe regarding scientific publishing and the preservation of research
results, examining organisation, legal, technical and financial issues.
Digital technologies are reshaping how research information is viewed,
analysed and eventually published. For example, about 90% of all science
journals are now available online, often by subscription. But digital
technologies are also leading to more 'open access' publishing. This provides
free and wide access to publications online. Better access to research data also
opens the way to new types of uses and services, often through re-using of past
results as the raw material for new experimentation.
Online access to current scientific information does not guarantee its future
availability. Digital information has a limited lifetime and needs to be
maintained over time. Better tools and organisational steps are necessary to
ensure digital preservation and thus prevent the loss of importance scientific
In terms of concrete measures, the Commission has already identified the
- To improve current and future access to scientific information, the EU will
support experiments with open access in its recently-launched research programme
(by, for example, refunding the project costs of open access publishing).
- During 2007-2008 the Commission has also set aside some €50 million to
support and help coordinate infrastructures for storing scientific data across
Europe and €25 million for research on digital preservation, supporting in
particular centres of competence in digital preservation. The
eContentplus programme will devote €10 million to improving
interoperability of and multilingual access to collections of scientific
material (see IP/05/98).
- A major European conference on Scientific Publishing in the European
Research Area, organised by the Commission will be held in Brussels on 15-16
February with the participation of the Commissioner for science and research
Janez Potočnik and the Commissioner for Information Society and Media
Documents available at: