That is the call from universities and science minister David Willetts in a letter to Dame Janet Finch.
Dame Janet chaired the so-called “Finch Group” of academics, librarians and publishers which was charged by the government with charting a consensus approach to full adoption of open access in the UK.
The group reported in June 2012 that a “clear policy direction should be set towards support for [journal-provided] gold open access”. This view was reiterated last November following a final reconvention of the group.
In his letter, Mr Willetts says the government retains a “strong preference” for gold open access, and an “acceptance” of repository-provided green open access.
“Publication of research results is an essential part of the research process; hence the cost of publication is a valid call on research funding. Gold OA allows for this cost to be met in an honest, competitive way,” he says.
However, he adds that he understands why some research-intensive universities continue to prefer green despite the funding for gold fees that Research Councils UK has made available.
This is because of concerns that the total cost to them of publication will rise under a fully gold model because, on top of paying article fees, they will need to continue to maintain their subscriptions to hybrid journals for access to international research.
The government therefore “looks to the publishing industry to develop innovative and sustainable solutions”. He suggests this should involve a “meaningful proportion of an institution’s total [article charges] with a publisher” being “offset against total subscription payments with that publisher” on a sliding scale up to a set limit.
Mr Willetts expects to see “firm evidence of such initiatives by publishers” by the time RCUK reviews its open access policy later this year.
He also urges universities to make sure they do not “inadvertently reduce competitive pressure” on article fees by becoming locking into long contracts for bundled charges. He says “science policy or business schools could help learned societies that rely on their publishing arms to develop new business models”.
Mr Willetts also notes that the government has commissioned a study into the feasibility of undertaking a full cost-benefit analysis of its open access policy. It has been criticised by several figures, including the Lords Science and Technology Committee, for not having carried one out before announcing its open access policy a month after the Finch Report was published.
Mr Willetts says such an analysis might “clarify whether there is a net economic benefit from funding [article fees] over using the same funding for additional research”.
He also insists the UK had “helped lead an international debate and set a direction of travel for globally increased OA to publicly funded research”.
Most of the open access mandates announced around the world since the UK’s policy was announced do not favour gold open access but Mr Willetts points to a “ strong preference” for gold announced by the Dutch government last November as evidence that “the debate is live internationally”.
He also insists that “select committees have endorsed the government’s direction of travel and preference for gold open access”.
The Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee agreed, in a report last September, that gold was the ideal end state, but it said green offered a much cheaper transitional route and said the Finch Report’s preference for gold suffered from “gaps in both the qualitative and quantitative evidence”.