SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COMMITTEE

No. 3 of Session 2003-04, dated 10 December 2003

NEW INQUIRY

Scientific Publications

The Science and Technology Committee is to conduct an inquiry into scientific publications.

The Committee will be looking at access to journals within the scientific community, with particular reference to price and availability. It will be asking what measures are being taken in government, the publishing industry and academic institutions to ensure that researchers, teachers and students have access to the publications they need in order to carry out their work effectively. The inquiry will also examine the impact that the current trend towards e-publishing may have on the integrity of journals and the scientific process.

The Committee is inviting written evidence on the following points:

•What impact do publishers’ current policies on pricing and provision of scientific journals, particularly “big deal schemes”, have on libraries and the teaching and research communities they serve?

• What action should Government, academic institutions and publishers be taking to promote a competitive market in scientific publications?

•What are the consequences of increasing numbers of open-access journals, for example for the operation of the Research Assessment Exercise and other selection processes? Should the Government support such a trend and, if so, how?

•How effectively are the Legal Deposit Libraries making available non-print scientific publications to the research community, and what steps should they be taking in this respect?

•What impact will trends in academic journal publishing have on the risks of scientific fraud and malpractice?

The Committee would welcome written evidence from interested organisations and individuals addressing these points. Evidence should be submitted by Thursday 12 February 2003. The oral evidence sessions will begin in March.

In announcing the inquiry, the Chairman of the Committee, Ian Gibson MP, said “Journals are at the heart of the scientific process. Researchers, teachers and students must have easy access to scientific publications at a fair price. Scientific journals need to maintain their credibility and integrity as they move into the age of e-publication. The Committee will have some very tough questions for publishers, libraries and government on these issues.”

Evidence should be sent in hard copy to the Clerk of the Science and Technology Committee, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA.  Please send an electronic version also, in Word format, via e-mail to scitechcom@parliament.uk or on disk.  Guidance on the submission of evidence can be found at www.parliament.uk/commons/selcom/witguide.htm

Further information on the work of the Committee can be obtained from Committee staff on 020 7219 2793/4.

Previous press notices and publications are available on the Committee's internet homepage: www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/science_and_technology_committee.cfm

Notes for Editors

•Under the terms of Standing Order No. 152 the Committee is empowered to examine the 'expenditure, policy and administration of the Office of Science and Technology and its associated public bodies'. The Committee was appointed on 12 November 2001.