Monday, 13 January 2014

Austrian Science Fund funding the metamorphosis of HSS open access journals

In 2012 the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research made funding available to help launch brand new open access journals in the humanities and social sciences (HSS), or to convert existing journals from the traditional subscription model to open access. Media owners in Austria were invited to submit expressions of interest. 36 expressions of interest were received, 19 were invited to submit a full proposal, and eight have now been approved.

Not only does FWF, Austria's central funding organisation for basic research, have one of the most comprehensive open access policies around, but it is backed up with programmes like this one to help the transformation. Aside from being a Europe PMC Funder (of course), they also helped set up Open Access Network Austria in 2013 to coordinate open access policies and activities of Austrian research institutions and funding organisations, and created a repository for research outputs which take the form of books, https://e-book.fwf.ac.at/.

 Image credit: SidPix, Flickr
For this particular programme, a stringent review process was needed to whittle down the 36 expressions of interest to the final selection which will receive initial funding of up to €50,000 or €100,000. The reviews focused on things like quality assurance, the logistics of open access and innovation. Falk Reckling, FWF’s Head of Strategic Analysis said:

The FWF regards that programme as a success. However, a programme like this run by a single country has just a minor effect on the publication system as such. Therefore, science funders (at least on the European level) should launch similar programmes on the international level together, especially by funding the transition of some outstanding subscription journals from all disciplinary fields. Otherwise, as the former FWF President Christoph Kratky recently stated in NATURE, the open access movement  is in danger of losing momentum: "Even the most optimistic advocates of open access to academic publications must admit that we are years — and perhaps decades — away from full conversion to such a system. It is easy to call for open access, but more difficult to make it happen. More science funders must put their money where their mouths are, and back their positive words with action. It will not be cheap, but the longer we wait, the more expensive it will be."

Further details of the review process and a list of the selected journals can be found in the FWF report.

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