Tuesday, 10th September 2013
UK: Open Access
Source: House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee (UK)
From the Introduction:
Open access refers to the immediate, online availability of peer reviewed research articles, free at the point of access (i.e. without subscription charges or paywalls). Open access relates to scholarly articles and related outputs. Open data (which is a separate area of Government policy and outside the scope of this inquiry) refers to the availability of the underlying research data itself. At the heart of the open access movement is the principle that publicly funded research should be publicly accessible. Open access expanded rapidly in the late twentieth century with the growth of the internet and digitisation (the transcription of data into a digital form), as it became possible to disseminate research findings more widely, quickly and cheaply.
Whilst there is widespread agreement that the transition to open access is essential in order to improve access to knowledge, there is a lack of consensus about the best route to achieve it. To achieve open access at scale in the UK, there will need to be a shift away from the dominant subscription-based business model. Inevitably, this will involve a transitional period and considerable change within the scholarly publishing market.
For the UK to transition to open access, an effective, functioning and competitive market in scholarly communications will be vital. The evidence we saw over the course of this inquiry shows that this is currently far from the case, with journal subscription prices rising at rates that are unsustainable for UK universities and other subscribers. There is a significant risk that the Government’s current open access policy will inadvertently encourage and prolong the dysfunctional elements of the scholarly publishing market, which are a major barrier to access.
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By Adrian Janes
Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.
A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.
Adrian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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