At least 9 out of 10 publications in 2021 resulting from research funded by NWO and ZonMw are available as open access. For NWO, this means an increase of 5% compared to last year. For ZonMw-funded research, the increase is 8%. This is according to the Open Access Monitor conducted by CWTS (Centre for Science and Technology Studies) on behalf of NWO (and ZonMw).

The aim is 100%

Both research funders believe that publicly funded research results should be directly and freely accessible. That is why they have been working on their open access policy for the research they fund since 2009. In 2015, they introduced a funding condition requiring publications resulting from research funded by NWO. For ZonMw-funded research, this has applied since 2013. In 2021, both funders have aligned their requirements with Plan S and cOAlition S, a consortium of more than 25 international research funders that aim to accelerate the full transition to immediate open access. Considerable progress has been made, but there is still room for improvement.

Caroline Visser, responsible for Open Science on NWO’s Executive Board: ‘Clearly, we have made great progress since our open access policy was first launched in 2009. Open access has actually become the standard. Ninety per cent is a particularly impressive score, even in an international context. Of course, our goal remains 100%, and we will continue to do what we can to accelerate the transition to the free and open availability of all scientific research.’

Arfan Ikram, chair of ZonMw: ‘These are great numbers. To reach 100%, we will also continue to work at ZonMw in collaboration with relevant parties to make the transition to open access publishing of scientific output. We will facilitate researchers wherever possible to use different open access routes.’

Main conclusions from the analysis by CWTS

•    By 2021, 90% of publications resulting from NWO funding (n=7843) were available as open access, either via the gold route (on the publisher’s platform) or the green route (deposited in a repository). This represents an increase of 5% compared to 2020. For ZonMw (n=1559), it was 91%, an increase of 8% compared to last year.

•    The number of publications in hybrid journals increased considerably in recent years, due to the open access deals universities have negotiated with publishers. The share of publications in full-gold journals also increased dramatically.

•    This edition of the Monitor determined for the first time the share of diamond open access. The international interest in this model has increased greatly in recent years, partly in response to the Diamond OA Journals Study conducted by Science Europe and cOAlition S and the Diamond OA Action Plan. With 2.5% of articles published under the diamond model, the share is still small, but it is promising nonetheless because it is considered a more equitable model as neither authors nor readers face costs.

•    Between scientific domains, there are no major differences in the overall score. The same is true for universities. Leiden University and the University of Groningen score the highest with 94% open access, which can presumably be attributed to these institutions’ progressive use of the Taverne amendment.

•    For the first time, a random examination of the 10% ‘closed’ publications was made as well. These are often publications in which the researcher funded by NWO or ZonMw is the ‘umpteenth’ co-author of an article, whose lead author has an affiliation with a university abroad. This researcher may therefore not always be able to influence the choice to publish open access. These articles should still be made open access under NWO and ZonMw policies, and the report also shows that the vast majority of authors comply with that and share their papers via the institutional repository – albeit sometimes with delays enforced by embargoes. The Rights Retention Strategy developed by cOAlition S can support researchers in immediately sharing these publications via open access.

•    The data underlying the reporting are – to the degree possible – openly available.

Open science as the norm

NWO and ZonMw are strongly committed to to lead the transition to Open Science. Publications resulting from funding by both agencies must be made openly available. . Open Science increases the impact of scientific research. But it also increases the quality and reliability and thus enhances the trust and support for science.

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