Consortia and universities call for wide access to electronic resources amidst coronavirus crisis

09 April 2020

In a reaction to the ongoing coronavirus crisis and the halt of on-campus operations in Europe and beyond, digital access to scientific research and electronic resources is more important than ever.

Several national rectors’ conferences and national consortia, including in France, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, have called for Open Access to coronavirus and related research. They have also called for extending access to digital collections held by publishers that are needed to fulfil the research and teaching missions of universities from outside the campus.

Governments and the European Commission also requested that publishers ensure Open Access to research findings on Covid-19. Many funders and publishers have committed to opening up research findings, a call previously welcomed and endorsed by EUA.

Research outputs on Covid-19 must be open

Responding to the escalating crisis, researchers have swiftly embraced preprints to share findings and results on the novel coronavirus. Research data is being made accessible at rapid speed, for example regarding the genomic sequences of the virus, and open source technologies are being used to combat the disease. Publishers are making substantial efforts to ensure free access and have sped up publication processes for articles on Covid-19, for instance through accelerated peer review of submitted manuscripts. These laudable reactions of the academic community and publishers quickened knowledge sharing amidst the crisis. Where this has not been done, EUA urges publishers to use clear Open Access licences, such as Creative Commons, to guarantee perpetual access after the crisis.

Moves to minimise impact on off-campus research and education

Many universities have ceased on-campus operations, resulting in increased demand for digital resources for research and education. The International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC) has issued recommended actions that can be taken to minimise the impact on students and researchers studying or working remotely, including easing licensing restrictions, user limits, interlibrary loans rules, paywalls, campus-only rules or other solutions.

Following the ICOLC recommendations and working together with universities and consortia ensures the functioning of higher education institutions under extraordinary circumstances. EUA welcomes the actions already taken by publishers and information providers to support universities by extending or maintaining access to electronic resources in this regard.

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