Open Access Plan is No Academic Spring

Bruce Reed | The Guardian | July 18, 2012

The UK government is currently making a fundamental choice concerning access to the results of publicly funded research (Free access to British scientific research within two years, 16 July). Everyone agrees that these results should be freely available. So the decision the UK faces is not about whether access to scientific research should be free. Rather, it is about how this should be accomplished.

Many argue that the web has made publishers unnecessary, as researchers can disseminate their results themselves. The Finch report, whose recommendations the government accepts, disagrees. It concludes that (i) these intermediaries still perform peer review and the facilitation of access, (ii) this costs them about £2,000 per article and (iii) recommends the adoption of "gold" open access under which academics pay publishers high fees for publishing their articles without paywalls. It rejects the "green" model, which circumvents these intermediaries.