The Financial Times has published an op/ed by three professors from schools in the UK and France that shares their views about the UK’s open access policy.
From the Op/Ed:
The UK coalition government, desperate to address sluggish growth, is promoting open access publishing, which aims to make peer-refereed journal articles available online at no cost to readers.
The idea is laudable and the principle is supported by academia. But as with all great ideas, the devil is in the detail.
Publishing is a profitable business but the gold OA will exacerbate the situation. The proposal is likely to strengthen the position of established high-profile journals and drive many mid-ranking journals out of business. This in turn will enforce academic safe bets and drive out innovation in risky topics.
Finch fails to engage fully with the more interesting issue of whether the UK should adopt OA unilaterally and ahead of other countries, particularly the US. All the signs suggest that the US is a long way from adopting OA and despite supportive noises the picture is unclear in the rest of the EU. OA offers no first-mover advantage but many first-mover pitfalls.
We wholeheartedly agree with Finch that communicating research outcome is too important to leave to chance but OA is not the solution. Finch’s report recognises that the outcome of the proposed change is not perfect for any of the parties – so why do it?
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