Willetts reveals Finch open-access proposals
03.05.12 | Philip Jones
The coalition government is set on pushing through an open-access model for taxpayer- funded research, even if details on how new business models for publishers will function are yet to be worked out.
Speaking to about 100 publishers at the Publishers Association’s annual general meeting, universities minister David Willetts said the government was committed to maintaining a dialogue with the industry as part of the Finch Working Group looking into the funding of publishing academic research, but stressed that the discussions had to be based on a general agreement that “open access was the way forward”.
He said: “Giving people the right to roam freely over publicly funded research will usher in a new era of academic discovery and collaboration, and will put the UK at the forefront of openresearch. The challenge is how we get there without ruining the value added by academic publishers.”
The PA had earlier issued a press statement indicating that journal publishers were considering permitting “fee-waived, walk-in access” to their content via public libraries, as a gesture to what one publisher openly referred to as “the supposed problem” of the general public not being able to get access to scholarly research. Willetts said the PA initiative would be a very “useful way of extending public access to the majority of articles currently only available to public libraries through subscription”. However, the initiative would only be open to public libraries, with academic institutions and libraries still required to pay subscriptions to access scholarly reports.
Willetts revealed that the Finch Working Group had come up with two working proposals. Going forward, articles could either be published under a “green” model, whereby publishers would be allowed to charge subscriptions but for a limited period, or under a “gold” regime, where the funder would pay for the costs of publication as part of the research process. Willetts admitted that the schemes could result in libraries in the UK paying for access to foreign-owned scholarly publications, while UK publishers would be supplying their materials for free. However, he argued that the UK had an “opportunity to take the lead” in ushering in this new model.
Willetts also announced that the government had drafted in Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, to help advise on a £2m “Gateway to Research” project, a website that will act as a portal, linking to publicly funded UK web research.