RLUK strongly welcomes the conclusion of the high-level Working Group Report that :
‘Making [journals articles] freely accessible at the point of use, with minimal if any limitations on how they can be used, offers the potential to reap the full social, economic and cultural benefits that can come from research.’
This aligns closely with the work that RLUK has undertaken over the past decade to support and promote Open Access (OA) in the UK and beyond. We agree with the Report that ‘The principle that the results of research that has been publicly funded should be freely accessible in the public domain is a compelling one, and fundamentally unanswerable.’
To achieve this, the Report has produce a number of highly practical recommendations on how to make the move to enhance the OA journals environment (‘gold OA’), including recommendations on methods of payment of article processing fees (where levied by journals). The Report recognises the principle of dissemination of research outputs being an integral part of research costs and makes recommendations to the research funders to ensure that fund are available to meet publication costs.
We welcome the analysis that suggest that the UK would see cost savings from a move to gold OA provided the average publication cost was of the order of £1450.
Phil Skyes, Librarian at Liverpool University and RLUK representative on the Working Group, notes ‘I do not think it would have been sensible or feasible for the Group to try to legislate on the “correct” profit margin for publishers. But Gold OA is actually likely to exert downward pressure on prices because, for the first time, academics and academic departments will be taking account of price – along with quality and brand – in deciding where to publish’.
Unfortunately, RLUK believes that the Report is less robust regarding OA following embargoes. Many UK research outputs are freely available in institutional and subject-based repositories, often after an embargo following publication.
David Prosser, Executive Director of RLUK said ‘Embargoes give publishers a monopoly on access, so limiting and delaying realisation of the full benefits of research. It is greatly to the advantage of researchers for any embargoes to be kept to an absolute minimum. RLUK therefore strongly supports the recent OA proposals from the RCUK which incorporate a maximum of six month embargoes for scientific research and sees no merit in the excessive embargoes suggested by the Finch Report’.
RLUK looks forward to continuing to work with a wide range of stakeholders to bring about the vision of the Working Group of public access to all publicly funded research.