German resolution supports open access and publishers

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The Bundesrat, Germany’s second parliamentary chamber, has passed a resolution supporting open access and scientific publishing.

Responding to a communication from the EU Commission on scientific information in the digital age, the statement welcomes the call for the freest possible, immediate and open access to information.

However, the Bundesrat's resolution also emphasises the central role of publishers in the scientific information system and acknowledges the open-access experiments pursued by publishers.

'Publishers, and particularly the scientific journals they publish, play a pivotal role in the scientific information system,' points out the the Bundesrat. 'Over the past years, the publishing industry has undertaken substantial investments in the area of online publishing, thereby already contributing to an efficient dissemination of information. In doing this, publishers constantly compete for authors and readers. This ultimately guarantees the high quality of scientific publications.'

According to the resolution, which was passed at a meeting in early May, the Bundesrat regards open-access publication as an additional method of knowledge dissemination. It also points out that open access does not avoid the costs of knowledge processing and knowledge transfer but shifts them from the users to the authors.

The statement has been welcomed by the International Publishers Association (IPA). According to its secretary general, Jens Bammel, 'IPA appreciates the balanced arguments and constructive tone chosen by the Bundesrat. Open access is a great opportunity which must be explored. At the same time care must be taken that we do not lose what is in fact working so well in other business models. This debate should be conducted in a measured way, based on sound arguments and empirical facts reflecting the high standards of academic debate in the journals themselves.'