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Paris, March 22, 2005

Towards an open access to research output…Four French research institutes, CNRS, INSERM, INRA and INRIA are taking advantage of their respective characteristics to create institutional repositories for researchers.

Access to scientific information is essential for researchers and society as a whole.

The publication of an article in particular and any paper given by these researchers during scientific meetings usually correspond to major advances in research. It is these articles and papers that define the role of a researcher and/or a research team in the international arena. The assessment and funding of a researcher and/or research team and/or research laboratory is also based on these research articles and papers.

Academic research depends for the most part on government funding, but also on funding from Associations and Foundations, but neither of these fundings ensure that citizens can access the scientific output of academic research.

The advent of electronic technology has had a major impact on access to information and consequently brought about extensive changes in research habits and practices. Researchers quickly took to the new tools now available, especially by taking advantage of the rapidity of exchanges. Concurrently, access to information of real interest became more complex, archiving data became more difficult and the dependence of the scientific community on some players, especially certain scientific publishers, has increased.

From Berlin to Southampton…. For Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities

Faced with such challenges, international research institutions took action. In October 2003, the Max Planck Gesellschaft organized in Berlin the first international meeting on Open Access to Scientific and Technical Information. One of the outcomes of this meeting was the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities. Among the first signatories of the Declaration were four French research Institutions namely the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), the National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) and the National Research Institute for IT and Robotics (INRIA). This first meeting was followed by a second meeting in May 2004 in Geneva, and very recently by a third that took place on February 28 and March 1st in Southampton. These meetings were an opportunity to exchange and compare experiences in order to move together towards the implementation of Open Access to scientific knowledge.

Southampton : Four French public research institutions presented their policies on Open Access.

These four research institutions have decided to join their efforts to establish a timely common policy in favor of Open Access. At the core of this policy is the creation by each institution of its own, interoperable institutional repository where researchers could post their publications as well as, depending on the institution, any other material resulting from their work (conference papers, raw data, patents, etc.).

Within the framework of a global initiative…

This French support of institutional repositories is in line with what has taken place in other countries. In the United Kingdom, the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Report of July 20, 2004 recommanded that all Higher Education institutions implement institutional repositories to preserve the published results of research and that these repositories be freely accessible. In the United States, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced, on February 3 of this year, their policy for public access to archived publications resulting from NIH-funded research.

The open nature of these CNRS, INSERM, INRA and INRIA institutional repositories in keeping with Open Access as defined in the Berlin Declaration, and the technical interoperability of all these repositories, will ensure better visibility for the researchers through free access to their work, especially via the major subject-oriented international portals.

These initiatives and policies are proof of a commitment to enhance access to scientific and technical information not only for researchers but for society as a whole.

Contact information:

CNRS : Claire Le Poulennec
01 44 96 49 88, claire.le-poulennec@cnrs-dir.fr

INRIA : Vincent Coronini
01 39 63 57 29, vincent.coronini@inria.fr

INRA : Sylvie Colleu-Gourvennec
01 42 75 91 69, http:// inra.fr/presse

Inserm : Martine Moëllic
01 44 23 60 97, presse@tolbiac.inserm.fr


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