UK Government Embraces Open Access

December 8, 2011

The Guardian reports today:

that the UK Government has adopted the policy of making the outcome
of publicly-funded research to be published in Open Access venues.


In a report published on Monday:

“Innovation and Research Strategy for Growth”

The Government states:

(page 76)

“Expanded Access to Research Publications and Data
6.6 The Government, in line with our overarching commitment to transparency and open
data, is committed to ensuring that publicly-funded research should be accessible
free of charge. Free and open access to taxpayer-funded research offers significant
social and economic benefits by spreading knowledge, raising the prestige of UK
research and encouraging technology transfer. At the moment, such research is
often difficult to find and expensive to access. This can defeat the original purpose of
taxpayer-funded academic research and limits understanding and innovation. We
have already committed, in our response to Ian Hargreaves’s review of intellectual
property, to facilitate data mining of published research. This could have substantial
benefits, for example in tackling diseases. But we need to go much further if, as a
nation, we are to gain the full potential benefits of publicly-funded research.”


(Page 77)

“6.7  There are many successful international examples of open access research. At
Harvard, academics often grant the university a non-exclusive irrevocable right to
distribute their scholarly output for non-commercial use. Their articles are than
stored, preserved and made freely available through the Digital Access to
Scholarship at Harvard (DASH). The UK has various similar examples of good
•  many universities and subject communities have their own digital open access
•  the independent Wellcome Trust ensure all research they fund is made freely
available in UKPubMed, supported by the Medical Research Council, an online
resource; and
•  the British Medical Journal has been open access since 1998, with authors
making a payment to cover the costs of publication, including peer review.”

“6.8  Government will work with partners, including the publishing industry, to achieve
free access to publicly-funded research as soon as possible and will set an example

•  We have helped establish an independent working group chaired by Janet
Finch to consider how to improve access to research publications, including
publicly-funded research. This will report in early 2012.

•  The Royal Society is considering how to improve the sharing and disclosing
of research data, both within the research community and beyond. It will report
in early 2012.

•  Alan Langlands is chairing a task force to advise on improving the
accessibility of data within Government and its agencies, which will advise
on data linkage, conditions of access and data quality. This will report during 2012.”

“6.9  The Research Councils expect the researchers they fund to deposit published
articles or conference proceedings in an open access repository at or around the
time of publication. But this practice is unevenly enforced. Therefore, as an
immediate step, we have asked the Research Councils to ensure the researchers
they fund fulfil the current requirements. Additionally, the Research Councils have
now agreed to invest £2 million in the development, by 2013, of a UK ‘Gateway
to Research’. In the first instance this will allow ready access to Research Council
funded research information and related data but it will be designed so that it can
also include research funded by others in due course. The Research Councils will
work with their partners and users to ensure information is presented in a readily
reusable form, using common formats and open standards.


In the US, we have an opportunity to catch up with the progressive initiative
of the British, by replying to the Requests for Information on:

Public Access to Peer-Reviewed Scholarly Publications
Resulting From Federally Funded Research


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