Dutch universities have reached agreement with Cambridge University Press about open access: all articles by Dutch researchers will soon be free for everyone to read.

The agreements between the Dutch universities and Cambridge University Press (CUP) are unique, says president of the board Jaap Winter from VU University Amsterdam, negotiating on behalf of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU).

In the agreement with CUP, the universities have acquired full open access. From 1 June, Dutch researchers can publish in seventeen fully open access journals and 339 ‘hybrid’ journals at no extra charge.

In discussions about open access, this is called the ‘gold route’: the articles are deposited in the archive of the journal itself and everyone can read them. Another form of open access goes slightly less far and is called the ‘green route’. In this case, researchers may make their articles freely accessible in their own university’s archive or on their own website, but they are still subject to charges by the journal itself.

Paying twice

The Dutch universities only wish to extend subscriptions to academic journals if publishers bring open access a step closer. Negotiations with Oxford University Press faltered on this point.

In old subscription forms, academic staff actually pay twice: researchers write their articles and also pay a subscription to read the journals. Furthermore, the results of (usually publicly financed) research are not accessible to outsiders.

The supporters of open access, including state secretary Sander Dekker, want to change this. In the ideal case, academic staff no longer pay to read articles, but to publish them. The articles themselves are then freely accessible to everyone.