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UK Government: Public Access for Publicly Funded Research

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Monday May 07, 2012
David Willetts, the UK Minister of State for Universities and Science, delivered a remarkable speech to the Publishers Association annual general meeting in London last week. Willetts focused on open access and left no doubt of the government's commitment on the issue:

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:

I realise this move to open access presents a challenge and opportunity for your industry, as you have historically received funding by charging for access to a publication. Nevertheless that funding model is surely going to have to change even beyond the positive transition to open access and hybrid journals that's already underway. To try to preserve the old model is the wrong battle to fight. Look at how the music industry lost out by trying to criminalise a generation of young people for file sharing. It was companies outside the music business such as Spotify and Apple, with iTunes, that worked out a viable business model for access to music over the web. None of us want to see that fate overtake the publishing industry.

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?
Comments (4)add comment

Crockett said:

...
How refreshing ... A politician advocating for the public good by telling industry to send their broken business practices to the dustbin.

Brilliant!
May 07, 2012

Ray Saintonge said:

...
For a Canadian cabinet minister to be permitted such a statement it must first pass a test for ideological correctness.
May 07, 2012

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May 08, 2012

Open Access said:

Open Access
"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."

What it means for in this present situation?
May 09, 2012

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