ZonMw and NWO to use open data for monitoring open access

For the first time, ZonMw and NWO have based their open access monitor on open metadata. This shows that in 2022, 93% of research financed by both funders has been published open access. This means that these publications are freely available online for anyone. 'As advocates for open access, we have to set a good example ourselves,' says Arfan Ikram, chairman of ZonMw and responsible for open science on NWO's Executive Board.
Open Access Monitor

'As research funders, we not only have the ambition to make the output of ZonMw and NWO-funded research as directly and openly available as possible, we should also apply the principles of open science to our own procedures. We started doing this for instance by making data on funded research as openly available as possible through an open API. And this year, for the first time, we decided on this new method to run the open access monitor. With a great result of more than 90% open access. That is a good score also in an international context,' Ikram explains.

Open data for the monitor

Open access figures for ZonMw and NWO-funded research have shown an upward trend for years. In the previous analysis, CWTS, at Leiden University, calculated a percentage of 90 for 2021. However, this and other analyses used data from proprietary databases and therefore could not be shared. For the new report, ZonMw and NWO used Crossref, the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and Unpaywall, all of which provide open (meta) data to academic publications on a non-profit basis. Previous figures are therefore not fully comparable with this year's outcome.

Leading by example

Using open metadata presents challenges as well: the quality and completeness still leave much to be desired. It is estimated that 40 to 45 % of the actual number of publications is missing from the 2022 analysis. However, the results are in line with calculations made by universities based on institutional research information systems. 'Moreover, we would like to raise awareness of the importance of cooperation between funders, institutions, libraries, publishers and service providers such as Crossref to improve and enrich metadata of academic publications. As ZonMw and NWO, we are now taking this first step. We hope to inspire others to follow this example and collectively strive for improved quality and completeness of open metadata,' said Hans de Jonge, director of Open Science NL, part of NWO.

Open Access obligation

Since 2013 and 2015, respectively, ZonMw and NWO have required that publications resulting from their research funding be made open access. From 2021, they have signed up to Plan S of cOAlition S, which means that publications must be available immediately, without embargo, and under an open licence.


While 100 % open access remains the goal for both funders, other aspects of open publishing are becoming ever more important. Internationally concerns are growing about the dependency on an increasingly smaller group of commercial publishers for academic publishing, the rising costs associated with publishing, and the equity and accessibility of open access publishing for less well funded countries and regions in the world due to high publication costs. ZonMw intends to continue its efforts in the coming years to contribute to a fairer, more equitable and diverse open publishing landscape. This is also echoed in this year’s theme of the International Open Access Week launched on 23 October: 'Community over Commercialisation'.