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[BOAI] The UK's Open Access Policy: Controversy Continues

From: "Richard Poynder" <richard.poynder AT>
Date: Fri, 24 May 2013 15:40:14 +0100

The new Open Access policy introduced this year by Research Councils UK — in
response to last year’s Finch Report — has been very controversial,
particularly its exhortation to researchers to “prefer” Gold over Green Open


When it was first announced there was an outcry from UK universities over
the cost implications of the new policy. In response, on 7th September last
year the UK Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts made an
additional £10 million available to 30 research intensive universities to
help pay OA transition costs.


But the controversy has continued regardless, and in January this year the
House of Lords Science & Technology Committee launched an inquiry into the
policy. The subsequent report roundly criticised RCUK for the way it had
been implemented, and concluded that lack of clarity about the policy and
the guidance offered was ‘unacceptable’. RCUK responded by making a number
of “clarifications”, and extended the permissible embargo period before
research papers could be made available under Green OA from 6 and 12 months,
to 24 months — an extension that led many OA advocates to complain that a
bad policy had been made worse.


In the meantime, the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Select
Committee had announced its own inquiry, which at the time of writing
remains ongoing. During this inquiry a number of new issues have emerged,
including complaints that some publishers are exploiting RCUK’s new policy
to pump up their profits (profits that many believe are already unacceptably
high). There are concerns, for instance, that the £10m in additional funding
that Willetts provided is being used inappropriately. At the centre of these
new concerns is Elsevier, the world’s largest scholarly publisher. 


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