What are academic core values good for? At a time when not only fake news and alternative facts are on the rise and trust in research is on the decline, but also the very foundations of democracy are seemingly being dismantled in many places around the world, free and independent bodies, such as courts and universities, are the first to be targeted by anti-democratic forces.

In Sweden, we like to think of ourselves as being good at autonomy. However, the fact is that a report from the European University Association, which regularly analyses the autonomy of universities in Europe, shows that we are ranked as low as 19th out of 29 countries, given a number of criteria (organisational and financial autonomy, autonomy related to recruitment and staff, as well as academic autonomy). This should give cause for thought – and so it has, including in a report by Andrew Casson, Några frågor om akademins autonomi, which was recently published by SUHF. One of the conclusions drawn in the report is that Sweden could use a constitutional protection that includes both research and education, in order to send a clear signal of the importance of academia in a free society. In other words, there is good reason to reflect on academic core values – not only to review our institutional values, but also to return to the fundamental values.

A different kind of kick-off also took place yesterday. Science Europe launched cOAlition S, a plan to more swiftly achieve the EU’s goal of full and open access to scientific publications. The basic principle is that all scientific publications based on publicly funded research should be published in full and with immediate open access from 1 January 2020. The need to speed up the process has emerged as the hybrid model that many journals have implemented as a transitional solution now seems to have been made permanent by several of them, which has resulted in the research community having to pay twice: both subscription fees and author fees for open access parallel publishing.

Robert-Jan Smits, the EU’s envoy for open access, developed the plan during a tour of a number of EU countries, including Sweden, this spring. The main idea is to change the system to be run by the research funders. Funding organisations from eleven EU countries, including Formas in Sweden, support the initiative – and so does the ERC. The Swedish Research Council is positive in principle, but wants to consider the timetable further. cOAlition S is an important step forward and constitutes strong support for the work on open science that we are conducting in Sweden, not least at Stockholm University.