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Government to open up publicly funded research

17 July 2012

Academics, businesses and the public will get easier access to publicly funded research, Science minister David Willetts has announced. The government will widely accept the recommendations in a report on open access by Dame Janet Finch, a move which is likely to see a major increase in the number of taxpayer funded research papers freely available to the public.

David Willetts

Currently most formally published research is only available behind restricted paywalls. Reforms will see publications opened up to a greater audience, providing more opportunities for research and development across a range of sectors. They will also support the commercial exploitation of research, contributing to the Government’s economic growth agenda.

“Removing paywalls that surround taxpayer funded research will have real economic and social benefits," says David Willetts. "It will allow academics and businesses to develop and commercialise their research more easily and herald a new era of academic discovery. This development will provide exciting new opportunities and keep the UK at the forefront of global research to drive innovation and growth.”

Among the recommendations that have been accepted by the government are:

- Moving to deliver open access through a ‘gold’ model, where article processing charges are paid upfront to cover the cost of publication.
- Introducing walk-in rights for the general public, so they can have free access to global research publications owned by members of the UK Publishers’ Association via public libraries.
- Extending the licensing of access enjoyed by universities to high technology businesses for a modest charge.

The recommendations have also been welcomed by Research Councils UK (RCUK) and Funding Councils who have also set out their plans for open access.

The Finch Report can be accessed here.


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