Call for comments on RCUK’s new Open Access policy

March 30, 2012

Research Councils UK is the aggregate of the UK’s seven research councils, which makes it overall  the most important and influential funding body for science in Britain.  A few days ago, they released a draft of their new open access policy, and they are soliciting comments now.  Comments can be from anyone — individuals or groups, British or overseas — like the recent OSTP Request For Information in the States which we have to assume was influential in the defeat of the RWA.

What does the new draft policy say?  I urge you to read it yourself: its only six pages, and they are very clear.  To  quote from the document’s introduction:

Key differences with the current policy include:

  • Specifically stating that Open Access includes unrestricted use of manual and automated text and data mining tools; and unrestricted reuse of content with proper attribution.
  • Requiring publication in journals that meet Research Council ‘standards’ for Open Access.
  • No support for publisher embargoes of longer than six months from the date of publication.

Unsurprisingly I am very much in favour of the proposed changes to the RCUK policy, and I will be a making a lengthy submission commenting on individual changes.

But any comment is significant — even you’re just writing to say “I approve of the policy changes”, or “I recommend a 12-month embargo period instead of six” or indeed “open access is a silly fad, this policy in unnecessary”.  The point is that RCUK want to hear your opinion.  Your voice matters.

So please email your comments to communications@rcuk.ac.uk with the subject “Open Access Feedback”.  I am told (by Cameron Neylon, who heard it from a colleague who’d had it from a friend of his) that the deadline is Thursday 5 April, but since that is hardly a definitive source, I recommend getting your submissions in as soon as possible.  (You can be sure that the publishers will be doing so.)

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9 Responses to “Call for comments on RCUK’s new Open Access policy”

  1. Matt Wedel Says:

    I just emailed the RCUK with my comments, which I’m posting here in case they prove useful to anyone else. Please don’t just copy and paste blocks of text; plagiarism is lame and we don’t want the RCUK to associate OA with spam. Please do email them, though, it takes all of five minutes and it’s important. Feel free to use any of the arguments from this message, or from our many OA-related posts here on SV-POW!, or from Mike’s many off-blog articles on OA. Just put them in your own words and add your personal perspective.

    Hi,

    I’m writing to comment on the draft policy on open access. I’m not based in the UK, but the colleagues with whom I work and publish most frequently are British, so your policies will end up affecting my future publications. I think that this is common, given the international and collaborative nature of most scientific and biomedical research now, and I hope that you keep the global impacts of your actions in mind as you formulate your policies–in particular, the benefits of open access to researchers in developing countries and at smaller institutions in developed countries.

    My comments on specific changes in the draft policy:

    * Specifically stating that Open Access includes unrestricted use of manual and automated text and data mining tools; and unrestricted reuse of content with proper attribution.

    Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Open Access started with a very clear, unambiguous definition in the Budapest Open Access Initiative, and unfortunately that definition has been considerably muddied, possibly deliberately, by commercial scholarly publishers. They should not be allowed to impose restrictive licenses and still call those “open access”.

    * Requiring publication in journals that meet Research Council ‘standards’ for Open Access.

    Absolutely in favor of this. Simply put, taxpayers should have immediate, free, unrestricted access to publications resulting from research that they have funded. There are loads more arguments to be made in favor of open access, but this one overrides them all.

    * No support for publisher embargoes of longer than six months from the date of publication.

    Strongly agreed. I would prefer no embargoes at all, but at least limiting embargoes to no more than six months would be a tremendous step forward.

    A final comment: please do not be swayed by the virtual wall of misinformation, half-truths, and distortions put out by Elsevier and the other commercial scholarly publishers about the validity of OA and the importance of authors signing away copyright so that the corporations can “protect” their rights. The immense profits derived by commercial scholarly publishers–often 30% annually or more–from selling publicly-funded research back to the public and the researchers are neither morally justified nor economically supportable.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

    Mathew Wedel, PhD
    Department of Anatomy
    Western University of Health Sciences
    Pomona, CA 91766 USA


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