Since 2006 The National Library of Sweden (NLS) has worked with advancing open access to scholarly output. Since 2017 the NLS received an appropriation directive from the Swedish Government to act as a national coordinating body in the work towards a transition to open access to scholarly publications.
The National Library of Sweden shall coordinate the work on introducing principles to further the publication of peer-reviewed and scholarly open access publications. This coordinating work of introducing principles for open access publishing must take into account the principle set out in chapter 1, section 6, the Higher Education Act (1992:1434), that research results may be freely published. The National Library will collaborate with the Swedish Research Council upon implementation of said assignment.
(From the appropriation directive 2017)
In the Research Bill Knowledge in Collaboration the Government states that open access to research results contributes to maintaining and furthering excellence in research. Open access to research output can advance science by making it possible for more researchers to validate and build on previous work. Further, that open access plays an important role in society at large and that research and innovation to a large extent is carried out within industry and in the business and public sectors. All stakeholders have a common responsibility in fulfilling this objective.
Immediate open access
The national goal is that all scientific publications resulting from research financed with public funds should be published immediately open access and that research data, on which the scholarly publication is based, should be made open access together with the publication.
The national approach is that the products of research must meet the FAIR principles as far as possible, that scientific publications arising from publicly funded research should be openly accessible immediately on publication from 2020 at the latest, and that the cost of scientific publication must be transparent.
The transition to open access to scholarly publications, research data and artistic works should be fully implemented in 2026 at the latest. It is a shared responsibility for all stakeholders within the research system to work towards the goal.
Also, the Government states that clear incentives and mechanisms are needed in order to encourage researchers to publish their research output immediately open access.
National studies on open access
In the Swedish Research Council’s report Proposal to National Guidelines for Open Access to Scientific Information, a number of obstacles to a transition to an open access publishing system were identified. On the basis of this report the National Library of Sweden during 2017–2018 coordinated the following studies concerning:
- The current merit and resource allocation system versus incentives for open access
- Funding for a transition from a subscription-based to an open access publishing system
- Open access to scholarly monographs
- Financial and technical support for converting peer-reviewed and scholarly journals from toll access to open access
- Monitoring of compliance with open access policies and mandates
The aim of the studies was to produce recommendations on national solutions to specific challenges, in order to support the researchers in the transition to open access and to reach the government’s national goal for immediate open access. Five national working groups was formed on the above topics, with stakeholder representation from Swedish funding agencies, HEIs, researchers and the National Library of Sweden.
The five studies including national recommendations, as well as a summarizing report were reported to the Swedish Ministry of Research and Education in March 2019.
An open access advisory group has been established within the Forum for National Library Collaboration and Development with representation from the Association of Swedish Higher Education (SUHF), the Swedish Research Council (VR), the Swedish Society for Humanities and Social Sciences (RJ), Young Academy of Sweden (SUA) and the Association of Swedish Special Libraries. Its role is to support the National Library as coordinating body for open access, with a focus on contributing to the open access studies initiated. The current chair is Astrid Söderbergh Widding, Vice-chancellor of Stockholm University.
New assignments concerning open access to scientific publications
As of 2018, the National Library of Sweden (NLS) has received two new assignments regarding open access to publicly funded scientific publications from the Swedish Government.