Norway: Open Online Access to Research

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sat, 15 Nov 2003 11:14:21 +0000

This is a brief report on the Norwegian Council for Higher Education
conference on Open Online Access to Research which took place a few
days ago in Oslo:

Norway, a nation of about 4.5 million people, 4 principal research
universities (Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, Tromso), and an annual research
output of about 10,000 refereed research journal articles is a microcosm
of the world's research access/impact status quo. It is small, but
representative, and, most important, it is autonomous and in a position
to take action in a way that will serve as an example to other nations.

IF it should actually become the first nation to *implement* the Berlin
Declaration (rather than merely endorse it, as other nations have so
far done), mandating open-access provision for all Norwegian research
output, Norway could trigger at last the long-awaited cascade of the
open-access dominoes:

Norway has not yet implemented the Berlin Declaration, nor even decided
at this meeting to do so. But all the key causal pieces as well as the
will to make a way seemed to be in place at this national meeting, with
representatives of the government, of the administrative and academic
heads of the universities, of the research funding councils, of the
library and information science community, and of the research community,
nationwide. The next step will be national discussions of potential
nationwide Norwegian implementation. Those discussions may come to naught
(as other plans, elsewhere, have come to naught in the past), or they
just might come to fruition. Norway is small, independent, self-contained,
and determined. At least so it seemed to my ears, at this conference.

Present also was an important representative of Norway's nordic neighbour,
Sweden, in the person of Lars Bjornshauge, the director of the Lund
University Libraries
which is the active host not only of the Lund University
Eprints Archives -- one of the largest and most active university eprint
archives and programs for self-archiving university research output --
but also host of the associated OSI/BOAI-sponsored and widely used
Directory of Open Access Journals

So one can hope that if Norway does prove to be the first Berlin-Declaration
domino, the other nordic nations might be the next!

Just to make it clear what implementing (as opposed to merely endorsing)
the Berlin Declaration really means:
(There have been misunderstandings lately, to the effect that
it merely means trying to require journal publishers to make
their contents open access six months after publication! That
is *not* what the Berlin Declaration says or means, though one
could be excused for getting lost in its excessive verbiage,
inherited as it is from the one-sided and unfocussed text of the
"Bethesda Statement" on which the Berlin Declaration is modeled: !)

What the Berlin Declaration says, in essence, is that (1) open online
access should be provided to all research output and that (2) all
research output should be deposited in an open-access archive. The
Berlin Declaration is neutral about how the open-access is provided --
whether by the journal, becoming an open-access journal and depositing its
own contents in an open-access archive, or by the author/institution,
by self-archiving their toll-access journal articles in their own
institutional open-access archives.

The Berlin Declaration says "should" and "should" is merely a recommendation. The
difference between endorsing the Berlin Declaration -- as all the Max-Planck
Societies in Germany, the CNRS in France, and others have done -- and
*implementing* the Berlin Declaration, is that in an implementation (whether
institutional or national), the "should" becomes "must" as a matter of
(institutional or national) policy.

There is nothing shocking about "must" in this area. There is already
a "must" policy in place everywhere, and it is called "publish or
perish." This universal publish-or-perish policy in the research world
has naturally evolved in recent years from merely a publication count
to a *weighted* publication count, the number of publications being
weighted by their citation impact: "publish impactfully or perish." To
implement the Berlin Declaration would accordingly be for an institution
or nation to extend publish-impactfully-or-perish just a little further,
to "maximise publication-impact through open-access" (by either publishing
the article in an open-access journal or by self-archiving the article
published in a toll-access journal).

Will Norway have the historic role of becoming the first nation
to do so?

Stevan Harnad

NOTE: A complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing open
access to the peer-reviewed research literature online is available at
the American Scientist September Forum (98 & 99 & 00 & 01 & 02 & 03):
    Post discussion to:

Dual Open-Access Strategy:
    BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a suitable open-access
            journal whenever one exists.
    BOAI-1 ("green"): Otherwise, publish your article in a suitable
            toll-access journal and also self-archive it.
Received on Sat Nov 15 2003 - 11:14:21 GMT

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