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Members of International Science Council endorse eight principles for reform, commit to work for change in scientific publishing -

As the 2021 Open Access week begins, the scientific community as represented by the International Science Council’s members has approved a resolution committing to work to reform scholarly publishing, and to endorse eight fundamental principles for scientific publishing that contributes to the advancement of science as a global public good.

The international scientific community, as represented by the membership of the International Science Council (ISC), has overwhelmingly supported a resolution recognizing the urgent need for reform of the current system of scientific publishing, and has committed itself to work towards that aim. The international disciplinary unions and associations, national academies and regional scientific bodies that make up the ISC’s membership voted to endorse eight fundamental principles for efficient and effective scientific publishing systems. The principles endorsed include universal open access to the record of science and its preservation for future generations, better exploitation of the tools of the digital revolution, reform of peer review systems, and accountability of publishing systems to the scientific community and its institutions.

Contemporary systems of scientific publishing are foundering under pressure from an explosion in demand and technological change, with much vital scientific knowledge being locked behind costly paywalls, inaccessible to researchers working in poorly funded settings, and out of the reach of many who could benefit from research findings.

Scientific publishing is fundamental to the maintenance of scientific rigour and progress, and to the international collaboration needed to solve global problems, as exemplified in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Efficient, accessible systems of publication are critical in ensuring that the latest scientific knowledge is quickly and freely available in the public domain as a basis for enhancing human understanding and addressing the challenges facing individuals and societies, from tackling chronic disease to establishing pathways to sustainability.

The resolution passed by ISC Members and their commitment to work towards change is a significant step towards strengthening the voice of science in the evolution of its publishing systems, and in establishing common principles on which scientific publishers should be held to account. The eight principles are intended to be resilient in the face of changes in technologies and ways of working, adaptable to the needs of different geographies and disciplines, and applicable across the whole spectrum of the scientific endeavour.

The principles were developed in discussion with the membership of the ISC over the past 18 months and are set out in the 2021 publication Opening the Record of Science: Making Scholarly Publishing Work for Science in the Digital Era.

The project on the Future of Scientific Publishing is overseen by a steering group representing different stakeholders from across the world, who will guide the Council’s work towards sustainable change in the coming years. Steps towards reform include normalization of tools such as preprints and overlay publications; innovative approaches to peer review and long-term curation of the scientific record; and the development of sustainable business models for learned society publishing. ISC Members also expressed overwhelming support for the scientific community to take a leadership role in the governance of open science, building on existing community-controlled infrastructures for scientific publishing. The resolution was passed at the International Science Council General Assembly that took place between 12 and 15 October 2021.

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