Support for Open Science in EU member states

In preparation for the EU Open Science Conference on April 4-5 in Amsterdam, we looked at what our survey data reveal about declared support for Open Access and Open Science among researchers in the EU.

Support for Open Access and Open Science

Of the 20,663 survey respondents, 10,297 were from the EU, of which 7,358 were researchers (from PhD-students to faculty). Most respondents provided an answer to the two multiple-choice questions on whether or not they support the goals of Open Access and Open Science, respectively. A large majority expressed support for Open Access (87%) and Open Science (79%) (see Fig 1).

OA/OS support from EU researchers

Fig. 1 Responses from EU researchers to survey questions on support for Open Access and Open Science

Even though support for Open Science is less than for Open Access, this does not mean that many more people actively state they do NOT support Open Science, as compared to Open Access (see Fig 1). Rather, more people indicate ‘I don’t know’ in answer to the question on Open Science. This could mean they have not yet reached an opinion on Open Science,  that they perhaps support some aspects of Open Science and not others, or simply that they found the wording of the question confusing.

It is interesting to note that the Open Access support figure roughly corresponds with results from Taylor & Francis Open Access surveys of 2013 and 2014, that reported only 16 and 11 percent respectively that agreed with the statement that there are no fundamental benefits to Open Access publication.

Differences between member states

When we look at the differences in professed support for Open Access and Open Science in the various EU member states (see Fig 2, Table 1) we see that support for Open Access is relatively high in many Western European countries. Here, more funding opportunities for Open Access are often available, either through institutional funds or increasingly through negotiations with publishers, where APCs are included in institutional subscriptions for hybrid Open Access journals. Perhaps many researchers in Southern and Eastern member states associate Open Access with either expensive APCs or with “free” or nationally oriented journals they wish to avoid because they are required to publish “international, highly ranked” venues.

Conversely, support for Open Science is higher in many ountries in Southern and Eastern Europe. As pure conjecture, may we state that in these regions, with sometimes less developed research infrastructures, the benefits of Open Science, e.g. for collaboration,  might be more apparant? The observed outliers to this general pattern (e.g. Belgium and Italy) illustrate both the limitations of these survey data (number of responses and possible bias) and the fact that the whole picture is likely to be more complicated.

OA-OS support EU member states

Fig. 2 Level of support for Open Access (left panel) and Open Science (right panel) in individual EU member states. Scale is based on non-weighted country averages. Results for states with less than 20 individual responses are omitted (see Table 1).

In general, the above differences between member states come into even clearer focus when support for Open Science is compared to that for Open Access, for each country. Fig 3 shows whether support for Open Science in a given country is higher or lower than for Open Access. Again, in most Western European countries Open Access is easily embraced while Open Science, perhaps because it is going further and being a more recent development, meets more doubt or even resistance. In many Southern and Eastern European countries, the pattern is reversed.  Clearly though, this cannot be the full story. Finding out what is behind these differences may valuably inform discussions on how to proceed with Open Access/Open Science policies and implementation.

OS vs. OA support EU member states

Fig. 3 Ratio of support for Open Science (OS) and Open Access (OA) in individual EU member states (red = relatively more support for OA than for OS, green = relatively more support for OS than OA). Scale is based non-weighted country ratios. Results for states with less than 20 individual responses were omitted (see Table 1).

Irrespective of differences between countries, the overall big majority support of Open Access as well as Open Science among European researchers is perhaps the most striking result. Of course, support not automatically implies that one puts ideas into practice. For this, it will be interesting to look at the actual research workflows of the researchers that took our survey, to see in how far their practices align with their stated support for Open Access and Open Science. Also, since our survey used a self-selected sample (though distribution was very broad), care should be taken in interpretation of the results, as they might be influenced by self-selection bias.


The aggregated data underlying this post are shown in Table 1. For this analysis, we did not yet look at differences between scientific disciplines or career stage. Full (anonymized) data on this and all other survey questions will be made public on April 15th.

Do you support the goal of Open Access? Do you support the goals of Open Science?
Yes No I don’t know # responses Yes No I don’t know # responses
Austria 95% 2% 3% 60 83% 3% 14% 66
Belgium 89% 5% 6% 103 88% 3% 9% 102
Bulgaria 81% 14% 5% 21 72% 0% 28% 18
Croatia 85% 12% 3% 33 94% 0% 6% 31
Cyprus 69% 8% 23% 13 69% 8% 23% 13
Czech Republic 73% 13% 13% 75 69% 13% 18% 78
Denmark 90% 1% 9% 80 84% 0% 16% 82
Estonia 85% 8% 8% 13 92% 8% 0% 13
Finland 84% 4% 12% 92 83% 3% 14% 95
France 87% 5% 8% 686 79% 5% 16% 699
Germany 87% 3% 9% 1165 76% 7% 18% 1179
Greece 81% 7% 12% 214 85% 4% 12% 222
Hungary 89% 9% 2% 45 83% 10% 7% 41
Ireland 81% 5% 15% 62 82% 5% 13% 62
Italy 79% 7% 14% 407 77% 4% 18% 413
Latvia 86% 0% 14% 7 83% 0% 17% 6
Lithuania 88% 0% 13% 8 75% 13% 13% 8
Luxembourg 86% 0% 14% 7 57% 0% 43% 7
Malta 100% 0% 0% 8 75% 0% 25% 8
Netherlands 89% 2% 9% 1610 75% 5% 20% 1627
Poland 86% 7% 7% 85 88% 5% 7% 83
Portugal 88% 5% 8% 129 84% 5% 11% 133
Romania 80% 5% 15% 82 85% 5% 10% 82
Slovakia 70% 5% 25% 20 82% 6% 12% 17
Slovenia 96% 0% 4% 27 96% 0% 4% 28
Spain 87% 3% 10% 537 88% 2% 10% 542
Sweden 90% 3% 6% 146 76% 6% 19% 145
United Kingdom 88% 3% 9% 1113 79% 4% 17% 1123
Total 87% 4% 9% 6848 79% 5% 17% 6923

Table 1 Aggregated data on support of Open Access and Open Science per EU member state.

4000 survey responses – geographical distribution and the need for translation

Last week we silently passed the 4,000 responses mark on our survey. With the summer season waning it seems a good moment to look at where we stand. The survey has been running for 15 weeks, with another 23 weeks to go. We’re glad to have 4,000 responses, but they are not nearly enough to allow for detailed analyses, e.g. by field and country. We would like to see that number double or triple before the survey ends on February 10, 2016. And what is perhaps more important: we would like to see a more or less even global distribution.

A self-selected non-probability sample as the one we work with is bound to have a lot of biases in the response, due to uneven distribution and uptake across groups and countries. The levels of survey uptake in countries is probably affected by:

  • (Effect of) distribution and promotion actions
  • Propensity of people in a certain country to take surveys
  • Degree to which a survey on research tools is considered relevant or interesting
  • Ability of targets groups to understand the survey, largely due to differences in (foreign) language proficiency
click to enlarge

Response levels per 100 billion US$ GDP at August 22, 2015, weighted average = 5,1

This map shows the geographical variation in uptake of our survey. To make things comparable we need to use relative numbers of responses. Ideally we’d have them relative to the number of researchers in each country. However those figures are not available for most countries. Instead we use GDP of 2013/2014 (Worldbank data) as a proxy as we expect countries to have more active researchers if their economy is larger.

The map shows response levels at or above average (green) in many countries in Europe, Oceania and Canada. Uptake in Russia, Latin America and South Asia is below average (orange/yellow). Despite many responses from the US, that country is also still slightly below average with 4.53. Levels in many countries in East Asia, the Arab World and Africa are very low (red) or even zero (white).

As said, many factors come into play, but it seems obvious that to increase levels outside Europe and Anglo-Saxon countries, translation into a few world languages would help. To find out which languages are the most important for us, we calculated for all language areas the number of responses needed to get below average country levels to the average, relative to their GDP:

language responses needed to get to average
Chinese, simplified 484
Japanese 170
Arabic 124
Spanish 104
Portuguese 82
French 68
Korean 59
Russian 56
Bahasa Indonesia 43

This means that we are now working towards having the survey and some other texts translated into …

  • simplified Chinese
  • Japanese
  • Arabic
  • Spanish
  • French
  • Russian

whereas we hope to increase uptake in Brazil, Korea and Indonesia by partnering with local institutions to distribute the English version of the survey.

We are looking for support in reviewing, testing and distributing the translations in these six languages. If you have any ideas or contacts that might be helpful for that, please let us know!