Dutch University goes green, requires all researchers to make publications freely available

An  important step towards open access and free availability of peer-reviewed articles.

Effective January 1, 2017, the Board of the University of Groningen and the Board of Directors of the University Medical Centre Groningen officially required all researcher to deposit fulltext versions of the peer-reviewed articles in the database that the University maintains, Pure.  Anyone in the world can get ready free access to researchers’ publications by going to the researcher’s profile page maintained by the University.

UMCG’s Medical Information Specialist Guus van den Brekel is my go-to person for all the latest tips for being a researcher in the digital age. Whenever I am in Groningen, I make sure I catch up with him to learn  about the latest innovations  I might otherwise miss. I recommend that any serious researcher find personnel at their university libraries who can keep them up-to-date. I’m fortunate to have Guus. You can follow him on Twitter  @digicmb but also look up his excellent YouTube videos by Googling him.

I asked Guus to put this this move in context. He replied:

Basically the bottom-line, or take-home message should be:

There are choices to make when deciding where to publish. Here is my take on them:

  1. If you decide for some reason to NOT publish in Open Access:
    • because you think it will cost you extra in APC’s [Article Processing Charges], despite the extensive deals the library made to take these away (completely or partly)
      See: http://libguides.rug.nl/umcg/openaccess/home 
    • because you can’t find the right Top 25% Journal that offers Open Access publishing
    • or ….
  2. Then you CAN still support the Open Access policy, in sending your FINAL AUTHOR VERSION pdf to the library.  The library will take care of uploading that version into the “trusted repository”of the University of Groningen & UMCG -> Pure. This is called the GREEN Open Access road.

So we want to “kill two birds with one stone”

  1. Increase the number of full text GREEN OA articles in our trusted repository, accessible for all

  2. save the valuable time of researchers by taking away the “burden” of importing all their articles into Pure

Researchers can still deposit fulltext versions of their peer-reviewed articles with ResearchGate, Academia.edu, Mendeley, and other research networking services, but this does not eliminate the responsibility to place the articles on Pure.

The University provided a number of FAQs and other resources that are useful beyond the University to understand the concept of “green road to open access”:

The green road to open access

What is this so-called ‘green road’ and what are its advantages for researchers?

Green open access is about articles published in a journal for which subscription or licence fees have to be paid. The author also places a version of the article in an archive that is freely accessible online worldwide – a repository. The University of Groningen’s institutional repository is Pure.

Advantages for authors and the institution are:

  • Greater reach of the article: even non-subscribers have access to UG publications;
  • Compliance with the requirements of national (NWO) and international (EU) research funders;
  • Pure is a trusted repository in accordance with these requirements whereas commercial services such as ResearchGate, Academia.edu and Mendeley are not;
  • Permanent archiving: a well-stocked repository provides a current and complete full-text summary of all items associated with the university, to support (external and internal) research reviews and rankings.

Another webpage of the university contrasts Gold and Green Open Access [   ]

Gold open access

Gold open access means that the publisher has replaced the subscription or licence model with a model in which a researcher or his or her employer pays ‘article processing charges’ (APCs) to have an article published in a journal. The article is then accessible online to everyone worldwide via the publisher’s website. The peer review process has not changed and takes place in the same way. The funding of APCs is often included in the research budget.

Examples of gold open access journals are the e-journals of BioMed Central, the Public Library of Science (PLOS) and some titles published by Springer. …

Green open access

Green open access is about articles published in a journal for which subscription or licence fees have to be paid. The author also places a version of the article in a archive that is freely accessible online worldwide – a repository.

Publishers usually allow this, but sometimes only on certain conditions. An embargo period of 6 to 24 months may apply. The publication may be placed in the repository immediately after acceptance by the journal, but the full text is shown only after the embargo period. Another condition may be that the final peer-reviewed version is included in an institutional repository, but without the publisher’s formatting. This version is also referred to as the post-print. A growing number of publishers consent to the article being placed in an institutional repository in the form of a publisher’s PDF, that is, with the formatting in which the article ultimately appears in the journal. To check conditions of this kind and the copyright regulations of journals and publishers, see SHERPA/RoMEO

The University has also established a nifty webpage where others can find resources for advocating open access in other settings.


I appreciate the way in typical Dutch direct style, the website takes a stand in ways that some American universities might be squeamish about:

Commercial academic networks are guided by profit, not by the interests of researchers

Commercial academic networks use the work of publicly funded academics to build their privately-owned for-profit platforms. As commercial enterprises, they necessarily aim at a monetization strategy that often involves selling information about scholars (or other users) to other entities, restricting access or charging for premium features.

By participating in such networks, academics essentially perform unpaid work for corporations, often lose control over their data and enable the sale of metrics that they might later not agree with.

Institutional open-access repositories, by contrast, are run by universities and are thus subject to the self-governance of the academic community and not bound to profit imperatives. They are governed by the strict data protection laws and academic integrity standards of scholars’ home universities [LINK RUG-WEBSITE?]. They are committed to the promotion of research and the enlargement of scientific information as a common good.

Commercial academic networks control access and gate-keep publicly available information

Commercial academic networks often require you to register and to agree to their terms and conditions before you are allowed to download publications that academics provide to them. It is often overlooked that much of the content that is stored in these networks is already freely accessible without restrictions. Through the market dominance of such platforms, access to the content is controlled by powerful companies in order “to capture, analyse and exploit extremely large amounts of data”. (Hall, 2015a) To them, gate-keeping access to information is more important than content itself (Hall, 2015a).

The University’s research database Pure does not require users to log in to access publications written by UG or UMCG staff and has no commercial interest in monetizing the data of its users.

The terms and conditions of commercial social networks often do not permit users to take their own data and reuse it elsewhere, nor do they facilitate libraries in extracting that data on the authors’ behalf. In other words, they benefit from the scientific commons but do not give back.

Disclaimer: I’m a Professor Emeritus in the Health Psychology Program of the University Medical Ctr., Groningen.  Although I continue to provide workshops, consultation, and coaching for grant writing, I receive’ no compensation for this blogging activity.

ebook_mindfulness_345x550I will soon be offering scientific writing courses on the web as I have been doing face-to-face for almost a decade. Sign up at my new website to get notified about these courses, as well as upcoming blog posts at this and other blog sites.  Get advance notice of forthcoming e-books and web courses. Lots to see at CoyneoftheRealm.com.


6 thoughts on “Dutch University goes green, requires all researchers to make publications freely available

  1. Most such university “requirements” have no teeth, so the university’s staff feel good about themselves and some number shift towards more open-access, but in the long term, the effort to change researchers’ behavior can be undermined, unless there is a continuing ramp-up of the expectation at the university level. Hope this one is different.


    • That would be my first reaction, also, but fortunately this appears to be different.

      I’m at Groningen part-time and they really mean business on this one. They are convinced that open access is the way to get the attention of the world. When I publish papers, they are aiready immediately on top of me to make sure that I have listed Groningen and UMCG so that they can retrieve it. They’ve invested a lot of money in this Pure systm.


  2. In fact the main thing they look for is “University of Groningen”. I published something with (only) University Medical Center Groningen as my affiliation and got a note from the Pure people asking me to take more care in future. 🙂


    • Yes, and if you are at UMCG, and only listed University of Groningen, UMCG will give you a note of warning.

      We need to accept that publishing science in the digital age means being under surveillance.


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