Open Access – a national license?

A recent publication by HEPI (Higher Education Policy Institute) calls for consideration to be given to a national license for Open Access. This would, in theory, allow everyone in the UK access to all academic research published in academic journals. Concerns are raised about current Open Access only allowing UK-based research to be made more widely available; the argument being the UK should have wider access to all research to be able to retain our reputation as a world leader in research.

The proposals point out the costs of institutions adopting RCUK Open Access policies (more than £20million when including the cost of Article Processing Charges) and the anticipated cost of HEFCE’s policy on Open Access for the next research excellence framework submissions (provisional estimate of £4-5million a year), added to the existing expenses of university libraries journal subscriptions (£175million). It’s an expensive business.

The proposal of a national license would be for anyone in the UK to be able to access any publications in a specified journal. The assumption is that vast new audiences would open up, including casual web surfers, patients, A-level students and small businesses. Would all these groups want, know of understand the way research in presented in academic journals?

Is there anything we could or should be doing as an institution to make our research more accessible? Is Open Access working well?

 

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