Government and funders move to make Finch a reality

The UK research councils have announced that they will provide block grants to help organisations cover the cost of open-access article fees after the government confirmed that it wants to see all publicly funded research made open access.

July 16, 2012

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has accepted all the recommendations of the Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings, chaired by Dame Janet Finch, former vice-chancellor of Keele University.

The group of publishers, funders, librarians and figures from universities and learned societies, which was convened by the government, last month endorsed the “gold” open-access model for publicly funded research, under which authors pay publishers’ article fees.

It estimated that the transition to full gold open access could cost the UK an extra £50 million to £60 million, largely accounted for by extra article fees.

David Willetts, the universities and science minister, told The Guardian newspaper that he hoped to see gold open access fully implemented in the UK within two years, while confirming that any additional costs would have to be met from within the existing research budget.

He pointed out that, according to the Finch group’s report, the cost of transition would account for only 1 per cent of the total research budget, while the potential economic impact of making research freely available would be “way beyond any £50m from the science budget”.

Meanwhile, the UK’s research councils have confirmed that all papers whose research they have even partly funded must be made open access beyond 1 April 2013.

The research councils will accept either gold or green open access; the latter involves depositing peer-reviewed manuscripts in open-access repositories after an embargo period of six months for science papers or 12 months for those funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council or the Economic and Social Research Council.

The research councils will provide block grants to institutions to help them cover article fees, although the details remain to be confirmed. Institutions will also be expected to establish their own publication funds.

Licensing arrangements will have to make papers available for all kinds of reuse, including for commercial purposes, as long as the original author is credited.

The funding councils have also confirmed that they will consult the sector on how to implement a requirement that research outputs submitted to research excellence frameworks beyond 2014 be “as widely accessible as may be reasonably achievable at the time”.

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