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June 26, 2012

Elsevier welcomes the Finch report

Elsevier welcomes the Finch Report on broadening access to academic research. We are glad that so many members of the academic community - universities, funders, libraries, scholarly societies, and publishers - have been able to collaborate constructively to find a way forward. The recommendations identify real opportunities, as well as risks, and how they are implemented will be essential in ensuring sustainable models for scholarly communications. We look forward to working with other stakeholders to encourage their successful implementation and to enable even wider dissemination of research in the future.

We are particularly excited about our industry’s initiative to provide free walk-in access via UK public libraries as part of a balanced package of initiatives. We’re also glad that Finch recognizes that publishers need to be able to charge to recoup the investments that enable them to deliver value. The report concludes that licensing and gold open access publishing are the primary sustainable mechanisms to focus on. Green open access is not by itself a sustainable model and must be done in harmony with the business model under which an article is published, whether licensing or gold open access.

Some of the details that policy-makers will likely be considering are the actions needed to ensure the UK enjoys access to the 94% of material published elsewhere, and the actions needed to ensure others have the widest access to the 6% of articles authored here in the UK. Policy-makers will also likely want to assess the very different costs, risks and benefits for UK PLC associated with the mechanisms identified to achieve these objectives.

So what comes next?  Well, access debates have been rather emotionally charged for the last 10 years.  The Finch Report points a way forward that could enable different stakeholders to work together constructively to widen access. Change would be required from all stakeholders, and we would all get further, faster by working together. We’re confident that everyone is willing to step up and embrace this opportunity for positive change. We are delighted that both STM and the Publishers Association have signaled that the report has been well received across the spectrum of their membership, so publishers, including Elsevier, are clearly ready and willing to play a constructive role.

Publishers will be looking at forthcoming policy announcements from partner organizations in the UK and hope to see a similar willingness to work closely and constructively together. We might anticipate, for example, new policy announcements from the Higher Education Funding Councils or Research Councils UK in the first instance, and in due course we look forward to the government’s official response to the Finch Report. International discussions are also underway, and it will be interesting to learn how stakeholders in other countries embrace the roadmap offered by the Finch group.


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Some comments by Sir Timothy Gowers:


which I fully agree with. Being able to read a journal in a library for free is a 19th century solution, and completely useless to an increasing number of people.

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