This week’s print issue of The Lancet (28 January 2017) carries an important article by Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief. He has just returned from Berlin where he attended the Academic Publishing in Europe conference.

He writes: ‘We talked about important issues, to be sure: our collectively poor reputation, improving peer review, gender discrimination. But we didn’t talk about how we might address emerging epidemics, climate change, or conflict and war. Academic publishing has lost touch with the concerns of the very society it is supposed to serve. It has become so wrapped up in its own technical preoccupations and internecine struggles that the global predicaments that publishers should be addressing have been forgotten or ignored…’

‘In 2003, the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities was published. It was a self-declared milestone in the open access movement. 2017 demands another Berlin Declaration, one directed to the crises we face today. The Declaration I offer is a proposal only, but I hope you might consider signing up to it. It says, for example: “We, the undersigned, are concerned that the potential contributions made by academic publishing to human prosperity and advance, as well as to the protection of our planet’s rich but vulnerable ecological and cultural resources, have not been fully realised. In accordance with the spirit of the Sustainable Development Goals, launched on January 1, 2016, and with a target date for completion of December 31, 2030, we wish to commit ourselves to using the publishing resources at our disposal to accelerate progress towards the fulfilment of these internationally agreed goals.” Academic publishers: let’s do something important. Together.’

The full text of Richard’s article is freely available here:

And the Declaration is here:

I have read and signed it and invite you to do so also. The text includes the words ‘We, scholarly publishers in and across Europe…’ because this reflects the first signatories at the Berlin meeting. However, the Declaration can I think be signed by anyone who agrees with it, whether you describe yourself as an academic publisher or not, and wherever you happen to be based.

Best wishes, Neil

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