Archive for September, 2013

Parliamentary Committee report on Open Access critical of current Government approach

September 10, 2013


In the UK, earlier this year, the parliamentary House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology conducted an enquiry into the implementation of the Government’s policy on Open Access (OA). This sparked many conversations and submissions such as here, here, here, here and here.

It was announced last week that the The UK House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Committee would release a report today which was eagerly awaited by many. It was embargoed until midnight 9th September so reaction commenced early this morning BST.

Here is the report.

This post is a collection of several of the reactions to the report and some selected “pull-quotes”.

1) “UK open-access route too costly, report says. Preference for publishing-for-fee overlooks role of repositories”. Richard Van Noorden, Nature Publishing Group.

“The route to open-access publishing endorsed by the British government puts unacceptable strains on research budgets at a time of funding shortages, says a parliamentary report released today. The report also argues for more transparency and competition in the costs of publishing research.

The report strikes a very important balance between the importance and value of repositories as a mechanism for increasing access and the potential for a fully-funded open-access research communication system,” says Cameron Neylon, director of advocacy at the San Francisco-based Public Library of Science, an open-access publisher”.

2) Parliamentary committee slams UK policy on open access. Professor Stephen Curry, Imperial College London.

“The report was published early this morning so I have had time only to skim through the conclusions and recommendations, but it makes for pretty stunning reading. Although the committee pauses briefly at the beginning to laud the government’s proactivity on open access, it proceeds to take issue with almost every plank of the policy put in place by RCUK over the past 12 months (following publication of the Finch Report) and calls for radical revisions.

The report will no doubt make for sobering reading for publishers, BIS, the Finch Working Group and RCUK. It will be interesting to see how they respond. The latter two groups are charged with incorporating the report and its evidence in their upcoming reviews – the Finch group is scheduled to meet later this month while the first stage of the RCUK’s review of its open access policy is due to take place next year.

So off we go again on the open access merry-go-round. Power to the people”.

3) (Very) Good news from the UK. Recommended Revisions to Open access Policy. Heather Joseph, SPARC.

“Most strikingly, both the Finch Report and RCUK revisions placed a significant premium on using paid publication in Open Access journals (termed “Gold OA”) as the primary compliance mechanism, while giving the so-called “Green OA route” – the deposition of articles in Open Digital Repositories – short shrift.

The new BIS Committee report is the culmination of an inquiry started in January, when the Committee undertook a significant public consultation across broad groups of stakeholders to ensure that the Open Access Policies adopted in the UK effectively serve their intended purpose.

The results of this inquiry are striking, and summed up nicely by the headline in the Press Release Accompanying the report:

“Government mistaken in focusing on Gold as route to full open access, says Committee.”



4) Government mistaken in focusing on Gold as route to full open access, says Committee. Via


“At a time when the budgets of universities are under great pressure, it is unacceptable that the Government has issued an open access policy that will require considerable subsidy from research budgets in order to both maintain journal subscriptions and cover article processing charges.

It became increasingly evident during the course of our inquiry that some elements of the scholarly publishing market are dysfunctional.  The Government’s open access policy risks making the situation worse, causing longer embargoes, restricting access, and inflicting higher costs on UK higher education institutions.”

5) BIS Select Committee: government ‘wrong on gold open access‘. Lisa Campbell, The Bookseller.

“The BIS report also criticised non-disclosure clauses in publishers’ contracts with academic libraries over payment levels for e-journal subscriptions where they concern the use of public funds. If the clauses persist, the government should refer the matter to the Competition Commission, the committee said. “Non-disclosure clauses severely limit the negotiating power of universities over subscriptions costs.  If dialogue does not resolve the problem, the Government should refer the matter to the Competition Commission,” Bailey said”.

6) End of the gold rush?. Yvonne Morris, CILIP Policy Officer.

Greater transparency

Although not illegal, non-disclosure clauses in subscription contracts between commercial publishers and libraries leave, in the words of David Willets MP, “a nasty taste in the mouth”. Such clauses prevent libraries disclosing to one another the financial terms and conditions of their subscription arrangements. If you don’t know what other libraries are being charged for their journals, how do you go about negotiating the best deal for your own institution?  The BIS Report tackles this lack of transparency by recommending that the Government indicates clearly that non-disclosure clauses should not be included in publishing contracts which involve public funds. That would be very welcome indeed.

This is a good report.  Now the recommendations need to be heeded”.

When asked to summarise today’s developments in a Tweet, @martin_eve said “Green should come before (APC-driven) gold; NDAs on bundling can’t be allowed; shorter embargoes a must, even for HSS”.