Exquisite Life Exquisite Life Research Europe Research Fortnight

March 27, 2013

The streets are paved with gold? Open access is coming to town

by Neil Jacobs

It is probably fair to say that we are in the midst of one of the biggest shake-ups of research communication for 300 years and the UK is at the centre of many of these changes. On 1 April, the revised Research Councils UK open access policy and guidance comes into force and there is a revision to the Wellcome Trust policy being implemented on the same day. What’s more, on 25 February, the Higher Education Funding Council for England released a call for advice on OA and the next Research Excellence Framework exercise.

Universities are taking on new roles in communicating research and may, in time, lose an old role. The new roles are in managing payments on behalf of their researchers when they publish in OA journals and, in the light of the recent HEFCE letter, potentially in curating research outputs using their repositories.

The internet has challenged many industries and communities, empowering some and threatening others, and the same is true in communicating research.  Many argue that there are remarkable opportunities for research and innovation in the internet age and OA is a condition for realising those. The UK Government response to the 2012 report by British sociologist, Dame Janet Finch and subsequent responses from major research funders, all confirm that they understand those opportunities and the role of OA in realising them. But the transition will be long and, given acknowledged differences in interests between some of the major players, might be bumpy in places.

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Neil Jacobs

Neil Jacobs

Neil Jacobs is programme manager at Jisc and member of the UK Open Access Implementation Group.