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More flexible funding needed for OA, says Finch
19.06.12 | Benedicte Page
UK Research Councils and other funders should establish "more effective and flexible arrangements to meet the costs of publishing in open access and hybrid journals", according to the Finch Working Group Report into expanding access to research publications in the UK, published today (19th June).
The review, led by Dame Janet Finch (pictured), has strongly supported a policy direction towards open access publication for research. But it said that flexible initiatives such as those adopted by the Wellcome Trust were important for the development. Funders' limitations on the length of embargo periods before which content could be made open access should also "be considered carefully to avoid undue risk to valuable journals". Future discussions and negotiations between universities and publishers on the pricing of big deals should also "take into account" the revenue implications faced by publishers, the review said.
Among the key actions the review has recommended is to consider how best to manage the transition period into open access, with additional money to be made available "from the public purse", as well as "efficiency savings and other reductions in costs from publishers and other intermediaries." Dame Janet Finch's report said it was necessary to "keep under review the position of learned societies that rely on publishing revenues to fund their core activities, the speed with which they can change their publishing business models, and the impact on the services they provide to the UK research community."
The Publishers Association said it warmly welcomed the recommendations, calling them "a balanced package." However the PA also said that a critical issue from the publisher perspective would be that sufficient funds were available via the research councils, the funding councils and the universities to fund "gold" model open-access publication for UK researchers, as well as that the budgetary workflows were in place to deliver those to publishers. The PA also said it was critical that research funders did not require manuscript-posting embargo periods of less than 12 months. PA c.e.o. Richard Mollet called the review "a constructive exercise in terms of bringing a forensic analysis to a complicated area of public policy and achieving a consensus across different stakeholders as to a sustainable path to progress."
STM, the international association of scientific, technical and medical publishers, echoed the PA's comments on article funding and embargo periods. C.e.o. Michael Mabe said: "Finch demonstrates how the combination of pragmatic approaches and evidence-based policy development can yield acceptable outcomes for the UK public, for UK researchers and for the publishing community. STM hopes that other international discussions on open access can be informed by this process."