EU research chief’s next act : changing the future of academic publishing

Publié le 2 mars 2018, par Thérèse Hameau

Robert-Jan Smits, one of Europe’s most powerful figures in research, has been appointed as a special envoy on open science at the European Commission, to help push efforts to make all publicly funded research in Europe freely available by 2020.

Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker proposed Smits, the outgoing director-general of research and innovation, for the role on Wednesday.

“I will be the ice-breaker for open access publications,” Smits said in an interview to mark his last day in his current post, which he has held for eight years.

Clutching a letter sent in the morning by Juncker informing him of his new position, Smits explained how he would be working alongside member states and research funders to change the world of academic publishing. His official title will be senior advisor on open access within the European Political Strategy Centre, the Commission’s in-house think tank.


His job will be to draw up an open access roadmap for action before the summer, outlining steps to demolish scholarly journals’ paywalls. By the end of the year, he will set down policy recommendations.