No. 2 · February 2006

Success with transnational cooperation on open access

Statistics show a tremendous increase in the number of visitors that uses Organic Eprint as a source for literature on organic research. During 2005 the number of visits to the site has increased from about 1200 to a range of 3000 - on a daily basis. In January 2006, more than 110.000 visits were made to the archive.

In 2002, the electronic, open access archive Organic Eprints was established as a tool to further develop research in organic agriculture. The main objectives are to document the research effort, to facilitate the communication of research papers and proposals, and to improve the dissemination and impact of research findings.

The archive receives papers, reports, theses, and other documents that are related to research in organic agriculture. The documents are stored as "eprints" - full electronic versions together with publishing information, abstract, peer review status, etc. On the internet (at, one can browse the archive by subject area as well as by country, organization and project. There are also extensive search facilities.

All can register as users in the archive and thereby deposit papers and subscribe to email alerts on new deposits in selected subject areas, from certain countries, etc. Organic Eprints is thus an open archive that everyone can use. Researchers, students, and others from all countries can deposit their documents by way of the internet. No less than 143 countries are represented in the user statistics.

Organic Eprints has been developed since 2002 by DARCOF as a free community service. In 2003 the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) joined the project as the first international partner with editorial responsibilities for the German language region and responsibility for the German language version of Organic Eprints.

Editors of Organic Eprints

Transnational cooperation

In 2005 CORE Organic was established with the objective to establish a common European project database and to map existing research programmes, projects and facilities within organic farming in participating states.

In order facilitate this, databases for projects, programmes and research facilities has been developed as part of Organic Eprints.

Furthermore CORE Organic partners agreed to act as national editors for the archive meaning that researchers and other users of the archive has a national contact person for questions and suggestions.

Advantages with open access

Open access has several purposes. The efficiency and impact of the research can be improved by making the research products more visible and earlier and easier available. And research quality can be ensured and improved by way of better communication between researchers, nationally and internationally, and between researcher and other actors in the organic movement. The clear intention is to give open access to all the documents in Organic Eprints. But for the time being, some scientific papers will have access restrictions due to copyright concerns – usually because the authors have transferred all their copyrights to the publisher. Generally, authors have the copyrights to their own original work unless they have given up those rights, and therefore they can normally give open access to preprints. Registered users have access to some of the restricted papers, and there is always a freely available summary page of each eprint with abstract, publishing information, etc. Together with the rest of the open access movement, the archive staff is working on establishing an overview of publishers copyright policies and on changing those policies to allow more open access.

Part of a larger movement

The archive is based on GNU Eprints archive-creating software, Linux, Apache, and other open source software. Open source software is freely available and it can be modified and adapted to meet the needs of the archive. The Eprints software is under continuous development and it is being used in a growing number of academic archives. Among the planned developments are full text search and support for journal overlays.

As an open access archive, Organic Eprints is part of a larger movement that seeks to make research papers available in open archives. Physics is the leading discipline in this respect. More than half of all physics papers are deposited in a large eprint archive at Here, scientific papers are typically deposited as preprints that receive comments from interested peers. Then they are submitted to a journal for peer review and finally the published version is also deposited in the archive. Organic Eprints differs from the physics archive in accepting not only scientific papers, but also articles that are directed at farmers, decision makers, consumers, etc.

More information at