Call for sector to unite behind open access
UK Open Access week and the JISC Future of Research conference have seen persuasive calls for the sector to unite on key issues facing UK higher education and research. Now ten leading organisations from the higher education and research sector have joined forces to drive the implementation of open access in the UK, both in terms of policy and promoting a deeper understanding of the opportunities it offers for the UK to maintain its world-wide reputation and impact.
Open access is a part of a movement toward more openness and transparency in the public sector and in universities, which promises significant benefits for universities and the UK economy as papers, educational resources and data are more widely available to support teaching, research and innovation.
While the adoption of open access is growing, some researchers and institutions still worry that it amounts to a “Robin Hood” approach that gives away research freely. The evidence, however, shows that opening up access to research outputs provides substantial gains for both. These gains vary across an increasingly differentiated sector but, to be more fully realised, policy and infrastructure need to be better coordinated across the sector. This is the role the UK Open Access Implementation Group will take on.
At the moment the group consists of senior representatives of two UK universities (Edinburgh and Salford), Universities UK, Research Libraries UK, the Society of College, National and University Libraries, JISC, the UK Research Councils, Wellcome Trust, the Association of Research Managers and Administrators UK, and a leading open access publisher in the Public Library of Science. It will coordinate evidence, policies, systems, advice and guidance, to make open access an easy choice for authors and one that benefits all universities. The group have asked JISC to map out a programme of practical work to make progress in these areas.
Meeting at the Wellcome Trust and chaired by Martin Hall, Vice Chancellor at the University of Salford, the group agreed that existing evidence and guidance on open access should be brought together and presented as a coordinated summary of why and how to adopt an open approach. The group noted that the ways in which research excellence and impact are measured play a key role in influencing behaviour. Where necessary, for example around the practical arrangements for paying open access publication charges, further work should be done to clarify what is possible at the moment and where further provision might be needed.
The group were united in their support for innovation and will encourage debate in the sector around new publication models. “If we don’t collaborate across publicly or semi-publicly funded institutions and if we don’t take hold of the agenda as a sector then we will be pushed into an environment where we increasingly compete for diminishing resources”, Hall summed up the debate. “The UK has consistently led the way in opening access to research. A UK alliance is now established at the highest level to ensure that we don't lose that lead, and that the impact of UK research (and therefore the contribution of UK universities to the economy and society) is maximised.”
Find out more about Open Access and JISC's work in this area