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Global Plan For Open Access, Research Integrity

Research: Public funding agencies from around the world endorse common principles

by Britt E. Erickson
May 30, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 22

Three Point Open-Access Plan Of The Global Research Council

◾ Encourage authors to publish in open-access journals

◾ Raise awareness for open-access publishing

◾ Support researchers who want their results freely available

An action plan to move more rapidly toward open-access scientific publishing was endorsed on May 29 by a panel of leaders from some 70 government research-funding agencies around the world. The Global Research Council (GRC), which met for three days last week in Berlin, also agreed on a list of principles to strengthen research integrity.

The GRC plan for facilitating open-access publishing includes three principles: encourage researchers to publish in open-access journals, raise awareness, and support researchers who want to make their published results freely available. GRC is a volunteer organization whose actions are not binding on any government. The group of research-funding-agency leaders aims to improve the quality of research through collaboration.

The exact details for implementing the open-access plan still need to be worked out by the individual GRC member organizations, said Peter Strohschneider, president of the German Research Foundation, at a press conference on May 29. “Implementation requires engaging a number of stakeholders—not only universities but also the library and repository communities, scholarly and learned societies, and publishers.” He emphasized that the plan is a starting point for further discussions.

The group also endorsed several principles on research integrity, including promoting it and educating research stakeholders, responding to cases of misconduct in a timely and fair fashion, and taking misconduct into account when awarding grants. GRC members agreed that researchers and institutions are responsible for the integrity of their work, but “funding agencies have an obligation to ensure that supported research corresponds to the highest standards possible,” noted Glaucius Oliva, president of Brazil’s National Council for Scientific & Technological Development, which cohosted the meeting.

Although neither the open-access plan nor the research integrity principles are legally binding, GRC represents organizations that fund about 80% of the world’s publicly funded research. The position papers GRC released last week send “a very powerful statement that these are the things that are important for science,” said Subra Suresh, former director of the National Science Foundation. Suresh played a leading role in the formation of GRC following a global meeting on peer review hosted by NSF last year. Peer pressure will drive other research funding agencies around the world to abide by the principles, Suresh said.



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