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Open Access: the Future of Scientific Communication

Repositories and Open Access Journals have been on the spotlight at the International Conference "Open Access Infrastructures: the Future of Scientific Communication" that was successfully organized by the National Documentation Centre (EKT), on December 15-16, 2008 in Athens. The Conference ( attracted more than 300 stakeholders that lead the developments on these new open-access principles for organizing and disseminating scientific knowledge worldwide.

In recent years, there is an increasing interest in the scientific community for the development of alternative tools to ensure the dissemination and the most efficient exploitation of scientific results. Open Access is an initiative of the academic and research community for the free, immediate, permanent, online access to digital scientific content. Following the international trends, ΕΚΤ develops national Open Access infrastructures aiming at providing open access to scientific and cultural content: the Repository Helios of the National Hellenic Research Foundation, Repositories for the Humanities and Health Sciences, the National Archive of PhD Theses, as well as international Open Access Scientific Journals.

During the Conference, academics, researchers, publishers from Europe and North America, as well as representatives from the European Commission presented views and experiences, and raised important questions on Open Access Infrastructures and the relevant emerging prospects on scholarly communication The following are the highlights of presentations and discussions at the conference:

  • The international research community calls for Open Access to scientific research as a way of intensifying research for the public benefit
  • Open Access to scientific research is becoming an obligation for research conducted with public funds, and gradually a precondition for private funding of research
  • Developments towards Open Access are positive in all countries and research organizations, especially as its financial implications and general benefits are becoming better understood with time.
  • Numerous Intellectual Property issues have yet to be tackled in the effort to put past and current research in the public domain
  • Greece has made important advances towards Open Access; however, an integrated web portal is needed, as well as coordination of efforts of all parties involved.

The keynote speaker, Prof. Jean-Claude Guedon (Department of Comparative Literature, University of Montreal, Vice-President of the Canadian Society for the Humanities and Social Sciences) stressed that Open Access "returns" the knowledge produced to the wide audience and the scientists themselves. Open Access gives the control of knowledge dissemination to the scientific community, instead of the few existing companies that now profit through high cost subscriptions to journals.

The Advisor to the Secretary for Digital Planning Yannis Larios presented the initiatives of the Greek Ministry of Economy and Finance on Open Access. The representative of the European Commission Dr Kyriakos Baxevanidis referred to the development of ICT infrastructures that enable European researchers to produce high-level results, deposit and disseminate them through Open Access tools. Chris Bird, representing The Wellcome Trust, the largest private funding organization on biomedical research in the U.K., presented the organization's open access policy. The Director of SPARC Europe (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) David Prosser elaborated on the international developments of Repositories and Open Access Journals.

Dr Evi Sachini, Head of EKT's Strategic Planning & Development Department, presented the Repositories and Open Access Journals that EKT develops under the project "National Information System for Research and Technology - Open Access Electronic Repositories and Journals". The infrastructures operate on interactive digital environment for disseminating knowledge overcoming any geographical or technical barrier. They run on open-source software and are managed in collaboration with scientific and research organizations.

Information on Open Access, relevant national and international policies, activities by the National Documentation Centre, as well as events and news from Greece and the world are now available in a portal at The presentations of the speakers, video and photos from the conference are available in the website .