A pilot has been launched for a year (October 2019 to October 2020) in which all teachers and other education professionals working in primary, secondary or VET schools in the Netherlands have free access to EBSCO Education Source: a database with scientific articles on education research with more than a million articles.
The pilot is organised by the national councils of primary, secondary (general) and VET schools together with the Netherlands initiative for education research (NRO) and the national library of the Netherlands. Its aims go beyond facilitating open access for all teachers: to get better insight into the demand for access to scientific articles on education research by teachers (education professionals); to map out the use of scientific articles by education professionals; and to investigate what is needed to be able to offer structural access to teachers.
The first six weeks of operation saw around 17 000 teacher registrations; a flying start, is the proud conclusion of NRO. The first user surveys are foreseen in early 2020, offering greater detail on if, and how, teachers find their way in this enormous database.
The background story
It all started in 2015 with a petition launched by Dr Frank Cornelissen, working as education scientist at the University of Amsterdam. While trying to enable teachers and researchers to cooperate in research projects, Frank discovered that they had to pay an average of 30 euros for downloading a single article from a scientific journal. This was a frustrating discovery, as current Dutch education policies consider professional, highly trained teachers a crucial factor in raising the quality of education. All teachers have to develop a so-called research mentality and approach problems or the implementation of new procedures with an analytical mind-set. How is it possible to develop and train this mind-set if access to scientific publications is almost impossible?
The petition was a huge success, proving that policies promoting a research mentality among teachers are gaining ground. Although, behind the scenes, a great number of organisations were involved in facilitating free access to scientific publications, the process would still have taken at least another 10 years for open access to become reality, according to the petition organisers. This is why the urgent appeal to the education Minister to reserve additional short-term budget enabling teachers to have free access to scientific journals was successful.