There is an active and innovative OA community in Belgium. There are 24 OA repositories in Belgium (OpenDOAR), most of which are university depositories.
As of May 2015, there are 17 Belgian OA policies registered in ROARMAP and 2 funders' OA mandates listed in SHERPA/JULIET. There are mandates at Université de Liège (ULg) and Ghent University (UGent) (these are ID/OA mandates, i.e. immediate deposit and optional open access).
Université de Liège (ULg) adopted its Open Access mandate in May 2007. Researchers have to self-archive their outputs following the principle of "Immediate-Deposit & Optional-Access" (IDOA). The assessment of research performance and the evaluation of researchers within this university are exclusively based on the research outputs that are deposited in the institutional repository (ORBI). This model is often referred to as the “Liège model” internationally.
Ghent University (UGent) was also one of the first universities to adopt an ID/OA mandate.
The other universities are all informing their researchers about OA and encouraging OA publications. Progressively Open Access mandates are adopted by the other universities of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation and Flanders, with different levels of achievement/coercion though.
There are some notable subject depositories such as e.g. OceanDocs hosted by Universiteit Hasselt. DOAJ indexes 26 Belgian OA journal titles. Research funders such as FWO and FNRS are supporting OA.
The OA movement is active and has strong support from prominent individuals.
Lack of national mandate. In correlation with this, there is some lack of coordination on a bigger scale than bilateral cooperation between institutions (a lot depends on personal contacts).
University of Ghent was project partner for the DRIVER projects that promoted OA awareness in the scientific community and among repository managers. Currently UGent is the Belgian project partner and Regional Coordinator (Western Europe) for the OpenAIRE project, which provides OA for European funded research.
In 2007, Université de Liège launched EurOpenScholar (EOS) a showcase and a tool for the promotion of OA in Europe to provide information on institutional repository building, OA journals, a discussion forum on OA, on emerging methods in bibliometrics, on rankings and on comparisons. It is primarily aimed at researchers, institution managers and funding instutions.
UGent and ULg are both involved in the openacces.be site, with accompanying social media efforts. Interest seems to be growing.
National and Institutional Level Policies/Mandates:
Brussels Declaration on Open Access to Belgian Publicly Funded Research
The Federal Authority, together with the Flemish Authority and the Wallonia-Brussels Federation jointly organized the solemn signing of the Brussels Declaration on Open Acces to Belgian Publicly Funded Research (http://openaccess.be/2012/10/22/brussels-declaration-on-open-access) on October 22, 2012 at the initiative of the Open Access Belgium organization, which is, among others, composed of members of the Belgian OpenAIRE Helpdesk. All three Science Policy Ministers formally committed to support the dissemination of publicly funded scientific research through Open Access. The Brussels Declaration encourages the creation of institutional repositories with embargoes of no more than 6 or 12 (SSH fields) months and invites authorities to investigate possibilities of covering the costs of Open Access publishing. It also invites authorities to investigate Open Data and Open Science.
Interfederal Open Access Consultation Workgroup
In the wake of the signing of the Brussels Declaration a workgroup was created to consult on Open Access matters involving the Federal Authority, the Flemish Authority and the Wallonia-Brussels Federation. The Walloon region and the Brussels Capital Region are being kept informed but are not actively involved. Its mission mainly states that these Belgian federated entities pursue conformity and interoperability of implemented systems. They share knowledge and best practices, inform other parties, stimulate initiatives, coordinate sensitization events and international reporting and explore related fields.
BELSPO’s Open Access repository and OA policy
Until 2015, the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO)'s management plan states its commitment to free online availability of scientific information, in particular of research results and collections from Federal Research Institutions in compliance with the Berlin Declaration. Hence the Scientific and Technical Information Service (STIS) of BELSPO allocated € 100.000 for the creation of an Open Access repository for results of research projects funded by the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO) in a first phase (2014-2015) and all other Federal departments in a second phase (2016).
Furthermore, a clause has been drafted for inclusion in research contracts binding federal research institutions under BELSPO tutelage. It obliges researchers to publish results in Open Access publications or repositories. The State will in any case publish the mandatory research report in Open Access, providing all safety and privacy requirements are met. This clause has already been included in the prestigious Inter University Attraction Centres' program (IUAP).
Flander’s RILOD (Research Information Linked Open Data)
With the recently finished pilot project RILOD (Research Information Linked Open Data) an emphasis was put on “open”. Structured research information of the FRIS (Flanders Research Information Space) research portal was combined with unstructured data on the world wide web (full texts of publications, websites of organizations and people). Through an intelligent search engine this unstructured data was classified. In this way more than 600.000 Flemish publications were made available as open data.
Research Foundation Flanders (FWO)
FWO (Flanders Research Foundation) is actively implementing an Open Access Policy. Its general regulations explicitly states that in accordance with the Berlin Declaration for the promotion of free access to scientific knowledge and cultural heritage (2003), beneficiaries of FWO mandates, credits and projects must deposit publications that result from FWO subsidies in a public “Open Access” database within one year of the date of publication. This should greatly contribute to the impact and valorisation of their work. Researchers are also advised to publish their other publications in such an “Open Access” database, the so-called “Open Achives”, together with the research data underpinning these publications.
Fonds de la recherche scientifique (FNRS)
At the level of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation regional funding agency (FNRS, Fonds de la recherche scientifique), new regulations took effect on June 30, 2013 which somewhat translated the “Liège model” (cf. supra) to the FNRS. Hence the IDOA principle is also applicable to the researchers who are funded by the FNRS (mandates and grants). All research output published since 2008 has to be deposited in the institutional repository of the researchers’ institutions. The deposited output constitutes the only basis for the evaluation of research performances.
Both the EC and the ERC ask through the SC39 that a certain amount of European funded publications are made available in OA (see the OpenAIRE project).
Details of Key Organizations:
Overview: The aim of EOS is to further the opening up of scholarship and research that we are now seeing through the growing open access, open education, open science and open innovation movements. Offers information and guidelines, conferences and briefing papers through website. Communication address: EnablingOpenScholarship, The Rector (le Recteur), Université de Liège – Rectorat, Place du 20-Août, 7 (Bât.A1), B-4000 Liège, Belgium; e-mail : info(at)openscholarship.org
Overview: Open Access networking, promotion and advocacy organisation in Belgium. Communication address: openaccess.be c/o Ghent University Library, Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 25, B – 9000, Ghent, Belgium; e-mail: openaccess(at)ugent.be
Thematic Open Access projects/Initiatives
Belgian Health Care Knowledge Centre (KCE)
KCE aims to produce studies and reports to advise policy-makers when deciding on health care and health insurance.
Even though journal articles are not the core business of KCE, this research institution favors Green Open Access. Its OAI-PMH compliant repository is mostly composed of medical, clinical practice, public health, health technology, healthcare financing and organisation, as well as health reports. Adding journal articles is planned within the next 2 years.
ISP-WIV (Institut Scientifique de Santé Publique- Wetenschappelijk Instituut Volksgezondheid) and SCK-CEN (Centre d'Etude de l'Energie Nucléaire- Studiecentrum voor Kernenergie)
Both ISP-WIV and SCK-CEN have committed to gather, update, share, disseminate and protect the scientific documentation and knowledge produced in their midst, the latter specifically privileging Green Open Access.
SCK-CEN has been registering documents in an internal data base since 2010. A quality control of the registrations is performed by a librarian. An evaluation of the publications is realised. A possible integration with a BELSPO Open Access Repository is now being studied. Migration of the archives will take 4 years.
Ocean Data and Information Network for Africa (ODINAFRICA), Belgium
The Universiteit Hasselt (UHasselt) serves as host for the OceanDocs repository which serves as an international subject repository for the natural sciences, with information broken down into regional (country) sub-areas. The subject coverage includes: Biology and Biochemistry; Ecology and Environment; Geography and Regional Studies
Vlaams Instituut voor de Zee (Flanders Marine Institute) (VLIZ), Belgium
A subject repository site making available work by Flemish and Belgian marine scientists and hosted by the Flanders Marine Institute.
Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO)
Réseau des Bibliothèques, Université de Liège (ULg), Belgium
This is an institutional repository that references for the totality of scientific publications of the University of Liège (backdated to 2002).
Past and Future OA Related Activities:
- Open Science at the Global Scale: Sharing e-Infrastructures, Sharing Knowledge, Sharing Progress; Brussels, Belgium, 31 March 2015.
- Boo(s)tcamp Open Science; KU Leuven, Belgium, 24 Oct 2014. KU Leuven held the 2014 edition of the International Open Access Week themed "Generation Open" with a one-day Boo(s)tcamp Open Science focusing on junior researchers. The day was launched with a crash course on the ideas and principles of Open Access & Open Data for newbies ("Learn to Speak Open"), followed by a QnA with a panel of regional funders with an OA mandate ("Ask the Funders"). Included Open Science testimonials from the Life Sciences, STEM and Humanities ("Meet the Experts").
- Big Data & Open Data; 7-8 May, 2014, Brussels, Belgium.
- Open Access and Society: Impact and Engagement; 17 June 2014, Brussels, Belgium
- Co-ordination Workshop on Open Access to Scientific Information, 4th May 2011 organised by Information Society and Media DG, Brussels.
- Open Access Week events held for the first time, coordinated through www.openaccess.be. UGent and ULg are both participating in OA Week, by distributing gadgets and flyers, recording videoclips etc. All future OA actions and initiatives will be announced on the website and the twitterfeed.
- The department of Economy, Science and Innovation of the Flemish Government (EWI) organises an annual stakeholders and expert meeting (EWI FOCUS “Open Acces”) to which the federal and Wallonia-Brussels Federation experts are also invited.
List of Publications
ERC (2007) ERC Scientific Council Guidelines for Open Access. Brussels, Belgium: EuropeanResearch Council.
Poynder, R (2011) The OA Interviews: Bernard Rentier, Rector of the University of Liège
Nyns, C-H (2010) Open Access and Institutional Repositories in Belgium
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