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Background

The benefits of open access publishing are widely recognised and promoted within the academic community. However, the manner of open access publication is the subject of on-going debate. The Report of the Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings Chaired by Dame Janet Finch (otherwise known as the Finch Review) controversially recommended that the primary route to open access should be achieved via the gold (author pays publishing) rather than green (institutional repository) route. This conclusion was endorsed by the Government and has prompted a revised open access policy brought in by Research Councils UK (RCUK) to be effective from 1 April 2013.

Reform has not been straightforward with criticism of the preferred gold method from many quarters of the academic community owing to increased short term costs and limits on academic freedom.

Policy developments: Milestones

  • Report of the Working Group on Open Access (Finch Report) recommends that the primary vehicle for open access should be the gold route to open access, July 2012
  • Government Response to the Finch Report, endorses almost all recommendations, July 2012
  • RCUK issues revised Open Access Policy which stipulates changes from 1 April 2013, a preference for gold open access and a block grant to cover the costs of gold open access for 45% of related outputs, July 2012
  • Government releases additional £10 million to assist 30 research intensive institutions cover to cover the costs of gold open access, September 2012
  • HEFCE launches a consultation on implementing an open access requirement in the next REF, February 2013
  • House of Lords, Science and Technology Committee report upon the implementation of open access, criticising the RCUK’s implementation and lack of transparency, February 2013
  • RCUK issue Revised Open Access Policy which accepts either gold or green route, March 2013

Open Access community

There is a vocal and active academic community in open access both in the UK and internationally which share views on open access publishing. In 2012 a committee of senior Harvard academics urged colleagues to publish in open access journals in protest against high journal subscription costs. Key open access commentators operate blogs such as:

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