House of Commons Select Committee Report on Open Access

[From SCONUL]:

The House of Commons Select Committee which looks at the work of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has published its report on open access.  This can be found here:

The report is a strongly worded critique of Government and RCUK policy, and of the Finch Report.

It argues that “the major mechanism through which the UK has achieved its world leading status (Green open access) has been given inadequate consideration on the formation of Government and RCUK policies” and recommends that Government take an active role working with Jisc and OAIG to promote standardisation and compliance across subject and institutional repositories.   It states that “the major mechanism of transition must be Green open access, specifically through strong, immediate self-archiving mandates set by funders and institutions”.

It is heavily critical of the cost involved in a transition to gold open access and says “it is unacceptable that the Government has issued, without public consultation, an open access policy that will require considerable subsidy from research budgets in order to maintain journal subscriptions and cover APCs.”  It calls on Government and RCUK to mitigate against the impact on university budgets and states that “The Government must not underestimate the significance of this issue.”

It is supportive of HEFCE’s approach to open access and the post-2014 REF.

It argues that:

·         “implementation of the Government and RCUK policies will make the situation worse” with regards to dysfunction within the scholarly publishing market, particularly around lack of transparency and competition.  It also argues that the current policy approach may reduce rather than increase access.

·         It is critical of what it sees as a lack of consultation by RCUK and Government, and states that “The Finch Report’s conclusions are recommendations were therefore made without a detailed up to date assessment of the existing open access policies in the UK.”  It also suggests the use of the same economists by government and the Finch Group “draws the independence of the Finch Report and its economic analysis into question.”

·         “the Finch Report, the Government and RCUK have failed to assess adequately the existing levels of APCs that are charged by a range of open access journals” and suggests  that “the figures it [Finch] used in its modelling undoubtedly created a risk that publishers would see these as a benchmark”.

·         There is evidence that publishers are extending embargo periods as a result of RCUK and Government policy.

·         RCUK should “withdraw its endorsement of the decision tree” for authors produced by the Publishers Association as this “does not represent RCUK’s position” following changes in RCUK policy.

·         “Government should work to introduce a reduce VAT rate for e-journals”.

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