Friday, August 3, 2012

UK plan for open access to research is a golden opportunity, not a cost

Stephen Curry recently wrote in the Guardian about the Finch Report on open access to publicly funded research and how such OA will be implemented by the UK Research Councils (RCUK). He considers some of the very broad range of reactions, from the very positive to the distinctly negative. Curry himself, clearly thinking OA to be a benefit, tends to a more positive stance.

. . . . this business is still playing out. If the research community can act in concert, there is scope for using open access to ensure that the taxpayer gets better value for money from its research spend on publishing. This is new territory, but with control of the funds, research institutions should seize this opportunity to push for open access at the cheapest possible price.

I would not wish to diminish the difficulties faced by UK research institutions in the shift to open access, but it is time for them to be as bold as the government. They can start by breaking their addiction to top-tier journals, which are likely to charge the highest APCs because publishers know that researchers and university managers continue to mis-apply journal reputations (quantified as impact factors) as a measure of the quality of individual researchers or their work. . . .
Arguably, the government's courageous stance on this issue serves national interest by marking the UK as a visionary place to do research. We are now seen as a leading voice in international moves towards open access. The UK may be taking a risk in jumping first but, given recent moves in the US and elsewhere in Europe, the chances of success look good.

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