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Netherlands: Universities claim victory on Open Access front

The Dutch research community has been at the forefront of the Open Access movement for years and this month it has scored another victory in its effort towards making research freely available. In early December, the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) and Elsevier, the world’s leading publisher of scientific journals, finally reached an agreement following a year-long dispute on terms of access to academic articles. The universities clashed with the publishing giant last year when their contract ran out and their demands for a transition to Open Access system in a new contract were rejected by Elsevier. The universities had previously successfully negotiated similar Open Access terms with other large publishers, including Springer, Wiley and Sage. Open Access is government policy in the Netherlands, and the official targets aim to have 60% of articles open access by 2019 and 100% by 2024. 

The new agreement, valid for three years starting in 2016, will allow Dutch universities continued subscription access to Elsevier journals while allowing their researchers to publish in a selection of these journals on an Open Access basis. The share of articles published in Open Access journals is expected to gradually increase to 30% by the end of 2018. The crucial part of the agreement is that researchers with a Dutch affiliation will be able to publish Open Access in Elsevier at no additional cost to them. Previously, researchers had to pay additional fees for publishing articles Open Access, on top of the subscription fees that the universities were already paying for access to Elsevier journals. Prof. Gerard Meijer, chief negotiator for the VSNU and Chairman of Radboud University Nijmegen, said the agreement will support the transition towards Open Access. We will be curious to see whether this unique deal between Dutch universities and the Netherlands-based Elsevier will be replicated in other countries, therefore proving to be a turning point in the Open Access movement.  VSNU Q&A’s for the agreement with Elsevier