Government pledges £10 million to aid open-access move

The government has pledged an extra £10 million to help the 30 most research-intensive universities manage the transition to full open access.

September 7, 2012

The move follows disquiet from research-intensive universities about the cost implications of the recommendations of the Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings, popularly known as the Finch group, which was published in June and has been accepted almost in full by the government.

The report recommended that the UK move towards making all of its research output open access, preferably in "gold" open-access journals, some of which charge authors a publication fee.

The report estimated that the cost to the UK sector of moving to such a model could be an extra £60 million a year, mostly in additional publishing fees. Research-intensive universities complained publicly that most of this cost would fall on them since they published the most research.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills said the £10 million it had pledged had come out of "budget flexibilities" within the existing science budget, and would be allocated in the current financial year.

The money is in addition to the block grants for article fees that the research councils have also pledged to make available from April 2013, further details of which are due to be unveiled this month.

The 30 recipients of the extra £10 million are those that received the most combined research income from the research councils and the Higher Education Funding Council for England in 2010-11. A spokeswoman for Research Councils UK said details of how the £10 million would be divided among the 30 were still to be determined.

She said the money would be distributed "as quickly as possible".

Speaking at the British Science Festival in Aberdeen, universities and science minister David Willetts said: "Removing paywalls surrounding publicly-funded research findings is a key commitment for this government and will have real economic and social benefits.

"This extra £10 million investment will help some of our universities move across to the open-access model. This will usher in a new era of academic discovery and keep the UK at the forefront of research to drive innovation and growth."

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