Christoph Kratky, current president of the Austrian Science Fund, published an insightful piece on the state of Open Access in Nature. For Kratky the disequilibrium between local OA policies and global publishers remains one of the biggest challenges the Open Access movement faces:

Yet despite this progress, a worrying imbalance remains between the efforts of research funders (including organizations that perform research), which can act only at a local level, and big publishing houses, which act globally. As a result, countries and institutions have different OA policies and behaviours that form a confusing patchwork. Some have explicit OA policies; others do not. Some require; others recommend. Some offer funds to pay for OA costs; others do not. Some have opted for ‘gold’ OA, which demands that publishers make papers freely available; others prefer ‘green’ OA, which allows researchers to archive the work.

This cannot be resolved on a national level according to Kratky. As a consequence he calls for Europe to take a leading role in the efforts to make publicly funded research outcomes available for free.

Marcus Burkhardt

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  1. Quite rightly, Kratky says that “Funders should help to establish new, non-commercial academic publication models, which could be hosted by institutions such as universities, research organizations and learned societies.”

    I have argued recently that non-commercial organizations would be much better suited for science publication than profit-oriented companies (see http://www.frontiersin.org/Behavioral_Neuroscience/10.3389/fnbeh.2013.00057/full).

    Kratky seems to think that “this strategy could contribute to revitalizing the market, which is hindered by a lack of competition”, but the problem is that there cannot be a functioning market for science publication, because the good that authors pay for is prestige. This is something they will pay any price for (maybe out of their own pockets, if needed), but it’s also something that is primarily created by the scientists themselves.

    Hence, science publication is an activity that is similar to (basic) science itself: There is no market, so it needs to be funded directly by the science funders.

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