Government response and RCUK response to Open Access report

26 November 2013

Today, the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee is publishing the Government Response and RCUK Response to the Committee’s Fifth Report of Session 2013–14, Open Access

Commenting on the Government Response, Adrian Bailey MP, Chair of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, said:

"I am pleased that the Government has embraced many of our recommendations. The following aspects of the Response are to be welcomed in particular:

  • The Government’s statement that publishers must “immediately develop” sustainable solutions to “improve on the transparency” of the effect of payment of Article Processing Charges (APCs) on subscription rates to counter double dipping by publishers. The Government’s important clarification that it “does not consider it appropriate for publishers to rely on retrospectively amortising their APC revenue to discount global subscription rates” will provide clear direction for publishers in this respect.
  • The Government’s agreement that Higher Education Institutions should not be required by publishers to accept non-disclosure clauses in publishing contracts which involve public funds.
  • The confirmation that authors have freedom of choice over where to publish, and whether they opt for the Gold or Green route to open access. The recent Finch group Review of Progress adopts the same position. Our Report considered such freedom of choice to be fundamental, and it is a positive development that there is consensus from the Government, the Finch group and RCUK on this point.
  • The Government’s decision to commission a study to assess the feasibility of a full cost benefit analysis of its own open access policy. The Government announced its open access policy 16 months ago. The delay in undertaking a full cost benefit analysis inevitably raises questions about the extent to which the Government’s open access policy is evidence based.
  • Our inquiry has, from the start, maintained a clear focus on increasing access to publicly funded research. The fact that "many universities have established a preference for Green OA", as the Finch Review of Progress has recently found, shows the disparity between the  express preference of the Government and the Finch group for Gold open access funded by APCs, and the economic realities that UK HEIs and researchers are dealing with.

The Committee will continue to watch this policy area closely and will want to see evidence of significant progress by the time of RCUK’s review in late 2014."

Image: iStockphoto

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