UK Plans To Make All Government-Funded Research Free To The Public Immediately Upon Publication

from the groundbreaking dept

We've discussed the fight in the US over open access to government-funded research in the past. Currently, the NIH requires any NIH-funded paper to be publicly & freely available one-year after it's been published. That gives journals one-year of exclusivity to profit off of the work before it's more widely available. There have been some efforts to block government agencies from requiring such open access, as well as proposals to expand it to other agencies beyond the NIH. We also recently wrote about a proposal in New York to do something similar, but with six-month of exclusivity, rather than a year.

Of course, some people take offense to any such exclusivity, seeing as we're still talking about taxpayer-funded research. Over in the UK, it appears that they're going to go completely in favor of open access, with a plan requiring immediate free access to any taxpayer-funded research. That's big news. Under the scheme, research papers that describe work paid for by the British taxpayer will be free online for universities, companies and individuals to use for any purpose, wherever they are in the world. The plan will be rolled out over the next two years, but by 2014, it sounds like all such research in the UK will be widely available for free.

Unfortunately, not all of the details sounds as good. The proposal tries to make the journals okay with this by forcing researchers to pay an "article processing charge" for each paper they publish, and it sounds like some of those funds go back to the publishers. But, of course, that's putting more of the cost on the universities that fund the research, and there's reasonable fear that this will lead those universities to ration out how many publications are "allowed." Many open access advocates preferred a different plan, that still involved academics doing deals with journals, but which also allowed them to publish the works online. The publishers, of course, weren't happy with that plan.

More open access is definitely a good thing, but I worry about any sort of plan that involves an explicit attempt to prop up a legacy industry that doesn't want to adapt. That seems very likely to create economic waste and to be abused at the cost of the public.
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Filed Under: government research, nih, open access, uk

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  1. identicon
    Mwhahaha, 17 Jul 2012 @ 3:29am

    You are of course forgetting our (the UK's) utter inability to deliver any promised service on time (or indeed on budget). Especially when it involves computer systems of any kind.

    Anything planned for 2014 I'd expect to see arrive at sometime around 2017, where it will arrive with horror stories of its cost.

    I'd much prefer to see some previously closed libraries reopened with that kind of money.

    What's the point in making information so available if half the population can't read terribly well or understand what's being said?

    On face value it is a good thing, but in the current economic climate, it does rather feel like we're repainting the living room whilst ignoring the subsidence in the kitchen.

    I'm confused how it's the people doing the research which have to pay, that seems quite backwards. Surely if anyone has to pay the people who want the information should be paying (small amounts) to see what they want. I feel I've misunderstood what's been written, but I've read it 3 times now and come to the same baffling conclusion.

    The Guardian doesn't pay me to read their paper every day and M&S don't pay me to wear their knickers.

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