The National Open Access Agreement in France judged “a real success” as key targets are surpassed

The partners involved in the “Accord national open access en France” (National Open Access Agreement in France) are pleased to announce that the agreement is exceeding their expectations when judged against key targets. The Ministère de l’Enseignement Supérieur, de la Recherche et de l’Innovation (the French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation – MESRI), the Couperin consortium, the Agence bibliographique de l’enseignement supérieur (Abes) and EDP Sciences are delighted with the results so far and agree that the excellent relationship between the partners has been a significant aspect of this success.

The Accord national was established in January 2017 and its success is being judged in the following areas:

  • Number of members and opt-in rate
  • Processes and support given to corresponding authors
  • Reporting and data
  • Volume of open access content

The number of member institutions participating in the “read and publish” agreement now stands at 66 and includes the majority of universities with a science focus and also most national research organisations. Under the terms of the agreement, member institutions enjoy access to the content of the Full Collection of EDP Sciences which may not have been the case under their individual subscriptions. This freedom to access and “read” any article has significantly expanded member institutions’ use of the content and complements the “publish” side of the agreement which has also seen a satisfying growth in numbers.

Corresponding authors from member institutions are eligible to publish their work open access, free of charge in participating journals. The technical systems for recognising these corresponding authors have been developed and optimised by EDP Sciences to make the process as seamless as possible and could act as a future blueprint for other publishers. In the interests of total transparency which we support unreservedly, information on the articles published under the French agreement is made available online by Couperin on the OpenAPC platform and the contract is available on ESAC.

Since the start of the agreement, an average of 650 open access articles have been published per year under the terms of this agreement totalling nearly 2500 so far. These articles contribute to the growing proportion of open access content published by EDP Sciences. In 2019, this represented more than 50%. This further underlines the importance of the agreement which is helping to foster a growing number of open access articles and promotes the dissemination of research originating in France throughout the world.

The “Accord national” has also contributed to the evolution of open access models available to journals published by EDP Sciences. A number of journals have moved from a subscription model to an Open Access model (Gold or Diamond), while others have been launched under a Gold model. The applied maths portfolio is in the process of transitioning from a subscription model to a Subscribe to Open model which seems to offer a fair and sustainable way to transition journals to open access.

“This national agreement is the only one of its kind in France and we are, of course, proud to be the publisher for this initiative,” said Agnès Henri, Managing Director, EDP Sciences. “The French government is right to champion open access and open science and this particular agreement should be considered a valuable example of ‘best practice’.”

“Together with our colleagues at MESRI, Couperin and ABES, we have made a real difference to publishing scientific research in France.” added Anne Simoneau, Director of Business Development, EDP Sciences.

“We have been impressed by the way EDP Sciences has applied its experience and expertise to executing this agreement,” commented David Aymonin, Director of Abes. “The quality of the data provided by EDP Sciences is, in our opinion and at the time of speaking, the best on the market and helps to engage the academic community in the open access agenda. We can say this for its data in general, but especially in relation to this agreement where it plays a key role.”

“It is not an easy task to build a national agreement from nothing,” noted Grégory Colcanap, national coordinator at Couperin. “Developing models and processes that can be rolled-out nationwide is complicated and challenging. However, together, we have managed it and we are happy to invite other major publishers to consider the publication model set up with EDP Sciences.”

“It has been a privilege to work with colleagues across the academic community in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust,” observed Odile Contat, Chief of the Scientific information Department, MESRI. “We are focussed on delivering the Plan national pour la science ouverte, and the Accord national is a rich and enlightening experiment. We are particularly impressed and encouraged by the growing annual volume of articles published in open access.”

EDP Sciences has been committed to open access and open science for many years. In addition to open access initiatives within France, EDP Sciences is actively supporting international efforts which debate and encourage open access. These include the OA Switchboard and the Subscribe to Open Community of Practice which favours the Subscribe to Open model.