A United States-based project to combat the high costs of scientific journals by creating publishing partnerships with academics and institutions has launched a European arm.
Sparc Europe is due to launch in September under the umbrella of the European research library association Liber.
Rick Johnson, Sparc enterprise director, said Sparc Europe should help academics to understand copyright issues and alert them to alternatives to commercial journals. It is sending letters to university library directors inviting them to join at a cost of £1,000 for large research libraries and £500 for smaller specialist libraries.
Unlike its US parent, members of Sparc Europe will not have to subscribe to journals set up by Sparc. Instead, it will encourage universities to create open archives, allowing users around the world free access to their data. It also wants academics to retain the copyright on their material rather than give it to journal publishers.
Alicia Wise, a Sparc Europe steering committee member, said the idea was to create competition in the journal publishing marketplace to bring down prices.
Sparc Europe is supported by the Consortium of University Libraries, the Joint Information Systems Committee and the Society of College, National and University Libraries in the UK and a consortium of Netherlands libraries. It will be based in Copenhagen, Utrecht or Oxford.