Monday, May 16, 2005

Cream of Science

A new Open Access initiative was launched at a meeting in Amsterdam last week. The brainchild of the Dutch national organisation on Open Access (SURF), the "Cream of Science" (Keur der Wetenschap) web site has been created to "shop window" the work of the top ten scientists at Dutch universities.

While all universities in the Netherlands now have an institutional repository in which researchers can deposit their papers, the aim of the new web site is to give self-archiving a boost.

That objective is clearly being met: all the scientists invited agreed to take part, and with the number of papers per author posted ranging from 3 to around 1,200, a total of 25,000 papers have already been archived. Where the papers were still only available in print form they have been scanned into an electronic format.

The launch event also encouraged a number of new organisations to sign up to the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, spurred on perhaps by the sound of a jazz band playing experimental jazz!

Amongst those signing were the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), the Universiteit van Amsterdam, Utrecht University, the University of Leiden, and the Wageningen University and Research Centre.

Indeed, the initiative has been greeted with such enthusiasm that other authors at Dutch research institutions have begun demanding that their work also be included. Initial demand proved so great, in fact, that the web site rapidly became overloaded, and there is now a waiting list of 200 Dutch scientists clamouring to have their work showcased in this way. "At this moment extra capacity is being set up," explains a message on the web site. "We hope you understand this temporary delay and have patience or try again later."

There is, however, a more intractable long-term problem. As the web site points out, due to copyright restrictions only about 60% of the papers are currently available in full-text. As such, the Cream of Science initiative has demonstrated once again that copyright remains a significant issue for the OA movement.

For information, contact Leo Waaijers ( or Annemiek van der Kuil (