Open Science Project

​​​Open Science: Legal Strategies for Promoting Access to Scientific Publications


The purpose of this study is to provide a systematic basis for promoting access to scientific publications and research findings. The study will identify legal barriers on access to scientific resources and provide a coherent legal policy to be adopted by various policy makers in Israel. 

Online publication creates new opportunities for access to scientific kno​wledge.  It enables scientists to instantly publish scientific findings and allow free and open access to research outputs. Such access is essential for academic research in universities and research institutions for R&D in the innovative industries. 

Scientific publishing is currently governed by commercial publishers with some journals being published by scientific non-profit societies and public research institutions. Commercial publishers heavily rely on copyright law in order to extract profits from scholarly publishing. Copies of scientific papers are sold at high price, per copy, per reading, or through subscription to scientific databases. Access to scientific journals became extremely expensive in the past decade and it is subject to new legal and technological restrictions. Thus, copyright law creates legal barriers on access to scientific knowledge. Commercial publishers are also experimenting with Open Access businesses models, where the scientists bear the cost of publication upfront, and access to the journal is thus provided free of charge. Such models may shape the development of a scientific corpus and are raising serious concerns related to potential distortions in measuring citation and scientific impact. 

The transformation of scientific publications has some important implications for the economics of scientific publications, the sociology of sciences and the law. Legal policies may affect the scope of protection accorded to scientific publications, and the rights and duties which apply to owners and users. Legal strategies may also offer some solutions for promoting access to scientific publications. The purpose of the proposed research is to explore these aspects in the context of the Israeli scientific community and the innovative industry and to design legal policies that would enable open access to scientific results. 

The proposed research will provide a current account of intellectual property polices related to scientific publications. It will identify copyright restrictions on access to scientific publications by academic scholars and industry experts. The study will compare the legal approach to scientific publications in Israel, U.S. and Europe. The legal analysis will explore legislation, case law, scholarly writing, IP Policies, licenses and publication contacts. Based on this analysis, the study will identify the different choices for policy makers. 

The study will focus on access to scientific publications in Israel. Access to scientific publications, is subject to IP restrictions and involves high cost. Such access is essential for the R&D activity in academic institutions and in the local innovative industry. Academic research in Israel introduces unique challenges to the issue of open access to scientific publications, due to language barriers. Most of the scientific papers are published in foreign journals, often commercial journals, although in some areas (such as Jewish Thought, or Hebrew Literature), major journals are published in Hebrew. Access to such journals may raise special considerations regarding their economic sustainability.  

The study will further explore current initiatives worldwide, where scientists, governments and NGOs seek to address barriers on access to scientific knowledge. Some initiatives focus on creating alternatives to commercial scientific journals. For instance, the Public Library of Science (PLoS) offers a couple of dozen online peer review journals, which are publicly available free of charge, subject to Creative Commons license. 

Other initiatives seek to enable scientists to retain copyright in their scientific publications, or at a minimum retain their right to make their papers available online. For instance, Scholar’s Copyright Project, sponsored by Creative Commons,  developed a Scholar’s Copyright Addendum Engine (SCAE) which assist scholars who wish to retain rights over their published materials, by providing them with standard addendum for revising the standard publication contracts.  Harvard University declared recently in its Intellectual Property Policy that its staff and members should "strive to protect and advance the public interest as well as obtain the greatest latitude and rights for the individual Author(s) and the University consistent with the public interest…".  Several faculties at Harvard and MIT adopted IP policies which would retain the copyright in publications at the hand of the institution, enabling affiliated schools to engage in collective negotiation, to ensure that scientific publications authored by faculty members remain freely available online.  Other academic open education initiatives include MIT OpenCourseWare project,  the Israeli Project MAOR in cooperation with MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching), ISOC-IL, Ministry of Education and IUCC (The Inter University Computation Center). 

​The study will compare existing practices in the U.S. and Europe that seek to promote Open Science and Open Access. It will provide an analysis of different models for IP Policies and develop a framework for sharing and licensing scientific publications and research findings. Finally, based on the critical review of current initiatives and the legal analysis, the study will propose legal policies for promoting access to scientific publications while securing a sustainable framework for academic publications.

​Open Access in Israel - Report 

Open Science: Facilitating Access to Scientific Publications (in Hebrew)

Open Science: Facilitating Access to Scientific Publications


Open Access: Leaflet for Researchers (in Hebrew)

Open Access - What is it and why it is important?


Presantations From Open Access Confernce 25/11/2013

Haifa Center for Law and Technology

Prof. Neil Netanel.pdf

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