China Mandates Open Access, Promotes Institutional Repositories and Demonstrates Commitment to Open Science

Library of Humanities and Social Sciences, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, June 22, 2017 | © Courtesy of Haitong Yu/Flickr.
Library of Humanities and Social Sciences, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, June 22, 2017 | © Courtesy of Haitong Yu/Flickr.

The long-standing commitment of Chinese scientific institutions to Open Access receives a confirmation in its Open Science mandates for the unrestricted sharing of scientific data and findings.

A Blog Article by Pablo Markin.

In October, 2017, leading scientific institutions of China, such as the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), China’s National Science Library and National Science and Technology Library, have affirmed the importance of Open Access for scientific research and communication, while joining the global OA2020 initiative that aims to accelerate the transition to Open Access around the world. In doing so, these Chinese institutions have joined over 100 other scholarly organizations that have endorsed Open Access, shown support for Open Access publishing and vowed to redirect funds currently spent on journal subscriptions towards sustainable Open Access models.

This represents an important milestone in the policy-making support of Open Access both in China and internationally. Whereas the Chinese Academy of Sciences has signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access in 2004, a year after its initial drafting with the support of the Max Planck Society and the European Cultural Heritage Online project, the Chinese National Science and Technology Library has joined the Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics (SCOAP3) from 2013, so that Chinese authors can have their article processing charges (APC) effectively off-set for scientific journals funded by SCOAP3.

Moreover, in May 2014, the Chinese Academy of Sciences has published its Open Access policy calling for the free accessibility of publicly funded research results in the form of academic articles, while encouraging the adoption of Green or hybrid Open Access in the framework of which scientific papers enter Open Access 12 months after their publication. Likewise, the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NNSFC) has declared its commitment to Open Access through the creation of institutional repositories with the aim ensuring unrestricted access to scholarly articles no later than 12 months after their publication.

In May 15, 2018, the NNSFC, which supports basic science, and CAS, a body that provides research funding for over 100 scientific institutions in China, have reinforced this stance on Open Access by mandating that research results of the projects they fund should be made openly accessible within 12 months of their publication. This represents support for a wide range of Open Access models and echoes similar developments internationally. Additionally, this transition to Open Access is likely to strengthen the performance of APC-based, peer-reviewed scientific journals, as its umbrella and funding bodies have been seeking to partner wish Open Access publishers in recent years, due to the long-term benefits of transitioning to Open Access.

This development is especially important in view of the surging output of Chinese scientists that rose from 48,000 papers in 2003 to over 186,000 articles in 2012. Over 55% of the latter figure is funded by the NNSFC that has a funding budget of 3.1 billion USD for 2018. According to the Science Citation Index, CAS-associated scientists have published approximately 6,000 papers in international journals in 2012. Thus, the combined effect of Chinese research funding organizations transitioning to Open Access can promote the growth of both institutional repositories and Open Access journals locally and internationally.

By Pablo Markin

Featured Image Credits: Library of Humanities and Social Sciences, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, June 22, 2017 | © Courtesy of Haitong Yu/Flickr.

This post is based on an article that originally appeared in OpenScience, 29/07/2018,

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