Can’t access publications freely? Then NWO wants their money back

Can't access publications freely?  Then NWO wants their money back

Increasingly, the results of scientific research are becoming immediately available to all. Research funder NWO now produces 85 percent of all publications. It should be 100%, but how?

Scholars can turn to the NWO research funder for grants, which are often divided into competition. A lot of money is involved in this: last year, NWO distributed 1 billion euros.

The ideal goal of open access is for the results of this publicly funded research to become freely available to all. Articles should not hide behind the unpaid wall of expensive magazines.


To date, 85 percent of all articles in which NWO participates in open access have already been published. In other words, it can be accessed free of charge on the journal’s website or can be found in an archive (“repository”) on your university’s website.

And that’s significant growth: two years ago (2018), that share was less than 70%. But the NWO still doesn’t think it’s enough. The terms of the NWO grants clearly state that all publications must be freely available.

Board Member Carolyn Visser wants to “point this matter more emphatically to researchers,” says a press release. Inquiries show that there are likely to be random samples. The NWO is also considering penalties, such as paying subsidies.

not easy

“But the question is whether we will achieve 100 percent,” says policy officer Hans de Jong. “It’s not that simple.”

Sometimes there are practical problems. In half of the articles not yet freely accessed, the Dutch researcher was not the first author of the article. If your colleague from China or the United States is the corresponding author, how much influence do you have on the selected journal?

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Or take the small, specialized magazines you haven’t yet made the switch to open access. De Jong: “Maybe it has four or five NWO articles a year. And then it’s hard for you to make dates. That’s why international cooperation in this area is so important, because we can all do it together.”


However, the percentage of NWO articles in open access will be higher again next year, De Jonge predicts. Universities negotiated open access with all kinds of scientific publishers, and that had an effect. For example, in 15 percent of NWO publications that are not yet accessed, many articles are still in titles from publisher Elsevier. Universities have already made agreements on this topic.

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