Nature News Blog: UK research funders suggest liberated open-access policy : Nature News Blog
Connotea Imports 2012-03-15
"Taxpayer-funded science papers should be made free to access within six months of publication, according to a draft policy from Research Councils UK (RCUK), the umbrella body for the United Kingdom’s seven research councils (government-funded grant agencies). The papers should not only be made free to read, but should also have a liberal publishing licence (Creative Commons CC-BY), which would make their content free to text-mine or otherwise re-use, subject to proper attribution. And if necessary, scientists should spend some of their research grants — or other grants for university overheads — to pay publishers to make the work public....The suggested strategy comes after a year of discussion in Britain on how to improve access to research papers. Open-access publishing is gaining ground, helped by mandates such as those from the US National Institutes of Health and the (privately-funded) UK Wellcome Trust. In the United Kingdom, the research councils, which together spend around £2.5 billion (US$3.9 billion) of taxpayers’ money on grants each year, have since 2006 said that they would like research to be made free as soon as possible after publication. But only one, the Medical Research Council, now puts a time-stamp on that, insisting that research be made free within six months of publication. And “none of the policies are enforced 100%”, points out Mark Thorley, of the Natural Environment Research Council, who has led the RCUK discussions. A new approach began last May, when the UK science minister David Willetts announced that RCUK and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (another government-funded body, which gives universities some £1.6 billion for research annually), would work together to ensure greater open access to public research. In September, Willetts set up a working group, chaired by Janet Finch, a sociologist at Manchester University, to look at the issue. (A parallel study from the Royal Society, launched last May, is now looking at opening up scientific data). The recommendations of Finch’s working group, expected this May, will ultimately set the agenda for widening access to research findings. But in parallel, RCUK has been having its own informal discussions, talking to policy-makers, scientists, librarians and publishers, says Thorley....If publishers ask authors to pay them to make the work public (reasoning that they are losing revenue by opening up the publication to everyone), then RCUK says that the money should come from research grants or grants for university overheads. The long-term aim is that money that libraries now spend on subscribing to journals would instead be diverted towards scientists paying to make their own work open. “In the long term, it’s a zero-sum game,” says Thorley...."