Brussels, 03 Dec 2004
The system of open access to published research favoured by the UK Parliament's Select Committee on Science and Technology would be costly for both universities and the government, the country's Science Minister, Lord Sainsbury, has claimed.
The committee has been campaigning for scientific research results to be made freely available in libraries and universities. Members argue that the current system sees libraries and other institutions with limited resources struggling to pay high subscription fees, while scientific publishers' profit margins remain exceptionally high.
In a question time session on 1 December, Lord Sainsbury argued that the system proposed by the committee would disadvantage universities. Around ten per cent of publication costs are currently met by the private sector through subscription payments. Under a free access system, all costs would have to be met by the government and universities, he said.
'Would the alternative system of open access actually provide a cheaper system for universities and researchers? There is no evidence for this, in fact it is almost certainly the other way round,' the minister is reported as saying.
The Wellcome Trust, a large funding body in the UK, is reported to be considering asking its grant recipients to use some of this money to meet publication costs, thus making their results freely available to libraries.