Historians warn minister: hands off our academic freedoms | Education | The Observer
"Respected academics and public figures have joined forces to combat what they claim is an 'attack on academic freedoms' contained within the government's plans for open access to research. The Royal Historical Society, whose fellows include professors David Starkey and Ian Kershaw, is spearheading the fightback against radical plans backed by David Willetts, the universities minister. Willetts plans to make publicly funded research immediately available for anyone to read for free by 2014, in the most thoroughgoing shakeup of academic publishing since the internet ... the Royal Historical Society, the Political Studies Association and the Council for the Defence of British Universities, whose members include Sir David Attenborough, Richard Dawkins and Alan Bennett, have warned of dire 'unintended consequences' for creativity and freedom in British academia... a professor of modern cultural history at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, who has signed an open letter to the government published today, along with 11 other organisations and learned societies, said: 'The government thinks this will be easy, cheap and maybe even save money by reducing the journal subscriptions for institutions. I think they are also trying to contribute to the growth agenda by saying that open access will stimulate a cascade of entrepreneurship in small and medium enterprises. But it is a fundamental revolution in the way academic life carries on. At the moment scholars decide where to publish, and now that job is going to be handed on to university administrators. The way peer review works is that you submit your work to anonymous assessors who are specialists in your field and they make their judgment on whether it will be published. If you do it inside your university it is not anonymous, it follows a chain of command and is subject to all sorts of political considerations. Then the killer is that there is a dramatically growing gap between the senior management at most universities and their working academics. Senior managers, even if they were once academics, now seem to be following a completely different agenda very much set by government policy. They are running large businesses...'"