Brussels, 23 Oct 2003
Representatives of some of Europe's leading research institutes signed a declaration on 22 October, pledging to promote greater dissemination of scientific knowledge and human reflection via the Internet.
Signed by research organisations from France, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Norway, the 'Berlin declaration on open access to knowledge in sciences and humanities' advocates better use of the Internet as a tool for dissemination, stating that for the first time ever, the Internet offers the possibility of making knowledge universally accessible.
'The Internet has fundamentally changed the practical and economic realities of distributing scientific knowledge and cultural heritage. [It] now offers the chance to constitute a global and interactive representation of human knowledge, including cultural heritage and the guarantee of worldwide access,' states the declaration.
However, the declaration claims that the development of a viable dissemination procedure will necessitate a huge amount of support and commitment from 'each and every individual producer of scientific knowledge and holder of cultural heritage', given the significant repercussions that the Internet will have on the nature of scientific publishing, as well as the existing system of quality assurance.
For their part, the signatories will support progress in this area by encouraging their researchers and grant recipients to publish their work according to the principles of the 'open access paradigm'.
In order to maintain the standards of quality assurance and good scientific practice, the signatories will also develop methods to evaluate open access contributions and online journals, and promote the merit of contributions to an open access infrastructure by software tool development, content provision, metadata creation, or the publication of individual articles.
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