Our starting point is very simple. The Coalition is committed to the principle of public access to publicly-funded research results. That is where both technology and contemporary culture are taking us. It is how we can maximise the value and impact generated by our excellent research base. As taxpayers put their money towards intellectual enquiry, they cannot be barred from then accessing it. They should not be kept outside with their noses pressed to the window – whilst, inside, the academic community produces research in an exclusive space. The Government believes that published research material which has been publicly financed should be publicly accessible – and that principle goes well beyond the academic community.
Willetts did not shy away from the economic impact on publishers:
Wider access is the way forward. I understand the publishing industry is currently considering offering free public access to scholarly journals at all UK public libraries. This is a very useful way of extending access: it would be good for our libraries too, and I welcome it.
When will Gary Goodyear, Willett’s equivalent in the Canadian cabinet, give the same speech and adopt the same policies?