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Open Access and Open Science at EGU 2015

Open Access and Open Science at EGU 2015

An overview of two discussions on Open Access and Open Science at EGU 2015
Through their publishing arm, Copernicus, the EGU has a range of Open Access journals. Thus, it was fitting that this concept - and the broader concept of "open science" - were represented at sessions and debates throughout the duration of the conference. The key highlights in this regard neatly bookended the conference, taking place on Monday, 13 April and Friday, 17 April, respectively.
On the Monday evening,  a session took place entitled "Open science, public engagement and outreach: why bother?". Participating speakers were:
Ulrich Pöschl, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry
Ivo Grigorov, Technical University of Denmark
Hazel Gibson, Plymouth University
Sam Illingworth, Manchester Metropolitan University (moderator)
The session kicked off - in front of a screen noting "open access", "open research", "open data" and "citizen science" - with panellists being asked to explain to the audience their own notions and definitions of open science. "Relating science to societal issues" was the general consensus. 
The majority of the discussion, both when the panellists first spoke and during the Q&A session after, was concerned with addressing the status quo in academic publishing, in peer discourse on the "open" concept in general, and on determining ways to challenge those who would be seen as upholding the status quo in what had become an increasingly polarised issue - at least as far as the participants seem to be concerned. 
Ülrich Pöschl, a longtime advocate of Open Access, stated that "there is enough money in the pot to transfer all subscription journals to Open Access". Pöschl spoke also of scientists making all their data available online for their (where applicable and legally possible); this would seem to be the next big debate due to take place on Open Science. It seem clear from this discussion that adherents of one of other aspect of Open Science my be strongly opposed to other tenets of it.
Predictions from the panellists, based on a judgement of the prevailing political will, is that the full switch to Open Access could be a reality by 2020.
The last day of the conference also saw its last Great Debate, co-hosted with the AGU, on Open Access. Panellists were:
Wim van der Stelt, Executive Vice-President Corporate Strategy, Springer
Gerard Meijer, President of the Executive Board of Radboud University
Ulrich Pöschl, Director, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry
Martin Rasmussen, Director, Copernicus Publications
Carol Bacchus, Vice-President and Publishing Director, Wiley

Hubert Savenije, Chair of the Publications Committee of EGU (moderator)
The session kicked off with moderator, Hubert Savenije, asking the panellists what they see as the short and long-term visions for Open Access publishing. Some responses were particularly noteworthy; Wim van der Stelt described the business model of Springer as being  "agnostic" - changing to suit the needs and demands their clients ans authors. Although, at a later point in the debate, it was not entirely made clear how much the publisher is responding to the demand for Open Access.
For his part, Gerard Meijer spoke of the continued collaboration in the "Big Deal" between Dutch universities and Springer and the role Open Access will play therein; as we know, the Dutch government intend on having all their institutions entirely compliant with Open Access by 2024 (60% by 2018). Meijer also stressed that the institutions he represented would break their Big Deal with Elsevier on 1 January 2016 if that publisher continued in their refusal to negotiate towards a more open model of scientific publishing, particularly where subcriptions are concerned.
Carol Bacchus of Wiley, also making up the AGU contingent on the panel, stated that 85% of Wiley journals are now hybrid (offering traditional subscription and an Open Access option, for an added fee). Noting that take-up for this latter option has doubled in recent years, Bacchus also added her belief that subscription-model journals will never entirely die and so Wiley have no intention of "flipping" to an fully Open Access model.
Martin Rasmussen, of Copernicus, in setting out the longer-term vision for Open Access, maintained that APCs (article processing charges) are a transition model only, and will eventually disappear. All of the panellists were in agreement that the Green model for Open Access was no longer viable, however, so a central issue in the coming years will be establishing an assured way to have a modified Gold model with no APCs. Ülrich Pöschl stated that this debate was the first time he had detected a genuine positivity among major academic publishers for Open Access, although asserting that the lack of cooperation from an unnamed member of the "Big Four" - who were absent from the debate - would ultimately seal their fate as a financially viable entity by 2020 if they continued in their refusal to moderate their stance. 
The debate itself, the back and forth between members of the audience and the speakers, was particularly interesting and raised some of the highlights of the afternoon. Among the questions posed were those directed at the Wiley and Springer representatves, asking them to explain the continued justification of subscription models, while an editor for a traditional model spoke of his unease at the fact that momentum towards Open Access seemingly leaves little room for dissent or questioning of ulterior motives. Another was worried that increased submissions - should all journals become Open Access - would lead to an increased workload for scientists who acted as peer-reviewers. 
All in all, the session was lively, informative, and occasionally quite newsworthy in fact; certainly a fitting end to the Great Debates series at EGU 2015.

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