Open access issues…

Two complementary reports were published in June addressing the issue of Open Access from different perspectives.  Firstly the Finch Report “Accessibility, sustainability, excellence: how to expand access to research publications” and, hot on its heels, the Royal Society’s report “Science as an Open Enterprise”.

As the Finch Report articulates the issue “Communicating research findings through journals and other publications has for over 350 years been at the heart of the research enterprise…  but there is a widespread perception, in the UK and across the world, that the full benefits of advances in technologies and services in the online environment have yet to be realised.”

The Royal Society’s report focuses on the need to make available the datasets which underpin many science publications as it is in the public interest (and that of good science)  to do so.  As one of the discussants at the Royal Society’s meeting to launch the report said:

“Today’s data will become the foundation of products and processes of the future”.

It seems that there are some real challenges for the engineering community here: from the policy tensions arising from publication versus protection when working with industry through to the practical challenges of storing data and making it accessible.  Do you have a view, or perhaps some examples of good practice?


  1. 07 September 2012
    £10 million investment for open access

    HEFCE welcomes the announcement of a £10 million investment by Government in the transition to open access.

    The investment will contribute towards the establishment and management of publication funds in UK universities.

    HEFCE looks forward to working with its partners in research funding to support the wider dissemination of research findings.

  2. Times Higher Education
    8 November 2012

    By Paul Jump

    The distribution of more than £100 million in research council funding for open access article fees will be directly proportional to how much universities have charged the councils for direct labour costs over the last three years.

    Research Councils UK announced the long-awaited allocations on Thursday afternoon, after pledging in July to provide universities with block grants to help them pay the article charges required by journals to make papers freely available instantly, under the “gold” open access model.

    The transition of UK higher education to a largely gold open access publishing model was recommended by the Finch report earlier this year, and was accepted by the government.

    The report estimated that the cost of transitioning to such a model could cost the UK sector an extra £60 million a year, mostly in additional publishing fees.

    In September the government made an extra £10 million available to help kick-start the transition, but the research councils were criticised for distributing it on the basis on gross grant income, and capping the number of recipients at 30.

    A spokeswoman for RCUK said distributing block grants on the basis of direct labour costs – which includes directly incurred staff and investigators’ costs – was “more intuitive” and would better reflect the “research effort” involved in producing a piece of research. It would also be fairer to humanities and social science, research in which is less expensive but could be just as productive of papers.

    RCUK has also announced that it is to back-load funding over the next five years. In 2013-14 it will only provide enough money to cover article charges for 45 per cent of the 26,000 papers produced annually with research council funding. This is expected to rise to 75 per cent by 2017/18, reflecting the expected larger take-up of gold open access by then.

    The remaining 25 per cent of papers will be expected to be archived in open access repositories, under the green open access model.

    The research councils estimate that their spending on article fees will top £100 million over the five years, but have only set absolute funding levels for the remaining two years of the current spending period. This will amount to £17 million in 2013-14 and £20 million in 2014-15. Subsequent funding levels will be set following an interim review in 2014.

    Funding will be restricted to institutions that will be eligible for a block grant of £10, 000 or more in 2017/18 in order to ensure “administrative efficiency” in the funding mechanism. However, RCUK estimates that around 99 per cent of papers produced with research council funding will come from institutions eligible for a block grant.

Speak Your Mind