What does academia want?

The principle of open access is widely supported within the Dutch academic world. Its aim, the free sharing of academic research results in the interests of scholarship, is hardly disputed. However, enthusiasm for open access and the way to achieve it differs across the various disciplines. Criticism has been levelled at its affordability and low status of open access publications.

Below is an overview of some major open access initiatives that have resulted from the efforts of researchers worldwide:

  • Open access is starting to gain ground in the humanities. Traditionally, many researchers have published in monographs, or chapters in monographs. Some promising new initiatives are OAPEN, Knowledge Unlatched, Open Library of Humanities  and Open Humanities Press. The Social Science Research Network (SSRN) contains 700.000 papers.

    Open access also ranks high on the agenda within the humanities in the Netherlands, with a symposium on open access journals in the humanities held in Utrecht in 2014. A film clip of researcher Wouter Henkelman (VU Amsterdam/NINO) highlights the importance of open access for these disciplines in an engaging way.

  • A group of prominent international linguists want to make the access to their scientific results less dependent of expensive commercial publishers. This unique initiative starts under the name LingOA.

    Editorial staffs of various scientific journals in linguistics say good-bye to their present publisher and publish their articles at very low costs and make them accessible for the whole society. With this initiative the linguists try to move other journals to the direction of affordable open access.

  • Lawyers also support open access publishing. In March 2014 Boom Juridische Uitgevers launched Open Access Advocate (OAA), the first and only legal open access platform (in Dutch). In April 2014, 62 legal researchers sent an open letter (in Dutch) to Kluwer publishers, urging them to reduce the costs for universities wishing to access and re-use publications that they themselves have written.

  • Many publications within the economic sciences take the form of preprints. RePEC is a frequently used international open access preprint archive.
  • BioMedCentral is an example of a successful open access publisher in the medical sciences. The Dutch Cancer Society (KWF), which funds scientific research, supports open access through actions, not just words. In 2015 Bart Kiemeney, Professor of Cancer Epidemiology at Radboud university medical center in Nijmegen, made the case for open access (in Dutch) in the Volkskrant newspaper: he says that instead of continuing to line publishers’ pockets with taxpayers’ money, universities should publish their research work themselves.
  • The Public Library of Science (PLoS) is a major international open access publisher in the life sciences. Many PLoS journals (including the multidisciplinary PLoS One) have since achieved a high impact factor. Dutch researchers are regular contributors to PLoS journals.
  • ArXiv is a successful open access initiative in the exact sciences. Hosted by Cornell University, this preprint archive contains more than one 1 million open access articles on physics, mathematics, computer science and statistics. bioRxiv is a fellower for biology.
  • In the broad field of physics, SciPost [https://scipost.org] is a complete publication portal run by active professional scientists.  It is entirely not-for-profit, offers a novel peer-witnessed refereeing mechanism, provides beyond-gold-level openly-accessible publications (CC-BY license with copyright to authors), does not charge subscription or publication fees (two-way open access: free for readers and authors) and has all its activities under the direct control of professional scientists (in particular, all editorial decisions are taken communally by its Editorial College).                                                                                                                                                                                                    
  • SCOAP3 is a good example of the ‘golden road’ approach. This international partnership of libraries, funders and research centres has transformed key journals in the field of high energy physics into open access journals, at no additional cost to the authors.
  • The Cost of Knowledge was a successful worldwide researcher initiative in 2012. More than 12,000 researchers signed the petition, which was initiated by a number of prominent mathematicians. The petition called on Elsevier to change its policy and to reduce the costs charged to universities and research institutes. In response, Elsevier has made the archives of a number of mathematics journals freely accessible.
  • SIGMA (Symmetry, Integrability and Geometry: Methods and Applications) is a non-commercial online open access initiative that focuses mainly on scientific publications in mathematics and theoretical physics. Not only is the mathematical journal SIGMA free for readers, but academic authors are also not charged a fee for the open access publication of their work.
  • PeerJ is an open access journal in the fields of biology, medical and computer sciences. Its business model differs from both that of regular publishers and of most open access publishers. No fee is charged for reading an article or for publishing one. Authors pay a relatively low, one-off subscription, for which they can then publish at least one article a year.

Universities and other institutions

All Dutch universities, the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), the National Library of the Netherlands and SURF have signed the Berlin Declaration, calling for free access to scholarly knowledge.


As the largest funder of research in the Netherlands, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) uses two funding instruments to encourage open access:

  1. Using funding from the Incentive Fund for Open Access – Conferences, NWO seeks to involve researchers in the discussion about open access publishing. This contribution is intended for activities that highlight open access during scientific and scholarly conferences.

  2. Using funding from the Incentive Fund for Open Access – Publications, NWO encourages the publication of research results. NWO will finetune its open access policy in the strategy period for 2015-2018. It will ask researchers to publish in fully open access journals (Golden Road), or to deposit their articles in a findable, centrally maintained university or disciplinary database (Green Road).


The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) believes that research data and publications based on publicly funded research should be freely accessible.  All publications by KNAW researchers will be freely available for everyone within 6 months of publication.  For the humanities an social sciences, the embargo should not exceed 12 months. All Academy research data will be digitally preserved and made available open access, unless there are compelling reasons (privacy, statutory regulations) that prevent this. This will take place within 18 months of the conclusion of the research.  For more information on this policy, see KNAW’s open access web page.


Dutch universities are working hard on open access, both individually and in partnership.

  • Led by the VSNU (Association of universities in the Netherlands) and with the support of SURFmarket, universities have been working since 2014 on new contracts with publishers that expressly include open access publishing.

  • In 2005, the Netherlands became the first country where all universities had their own repository. NARCIS is the central portal to the Dutch repositories.

  • A couple of Dutch universities – Erasmus University Rotterdam (since 2010), Eindhoven University of Technology (2015), TU Delft (2016)  and University of Groningen (2017)– have since adopted an official open access policy for their institution. Almost all universities stipulate that PhD dissertations must be made publicly available in their repositories.

  • The universities of Twente, Utrecht and Delft encourage open access publishing through a special fund.

  • VU University Amsterdam and Utrecht University support researchers wishing to set up open access journals.

  • Dutch universities make great efforts to inform their academic staff about open access via web pages, special newsletters and the like. Symposiums and a range of other activities are held across the country each year during international Open Access Week.­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

Higher professional education (HBO)

The Dutch HBO sector also encourages open access publishing. The HBO Kennisbank gives access to more than 33,000 open access publications, including Bachelor’s and Master’s theses.


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Dutch National website providing information for academics about the advantages of open access to publicly financed research

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