UK Open-Access Route Too Costly, Report Says

Richard Van Noorden | Nature | September 10, 2013

Preference for system of publishing for a fee overlooks role of repositories.

The UK government's favoured route to open-access publishing puts unacceptable strains on research budgets at a time of funding shortages, says a parliamentary report released today. It also calls for more transparency and competition in the costs of publishing research.

The report, from the House of Commons’ Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, is the latest salvo in a heated international fight about how to afford the shift to a worldwide system of open-access publishing. The United Kingdom had chosen a radical stance, hoping to drag other nations in its wake.

In July 2012, the British government said that money should be taken from research funds to pay publishers to make UK papers free to read as soon as they were published. The hope was that this ‘gold’ form of open access would, ultimately, spread across the world. Until all nations were paying to make their papers free, however, the United Kingdom would find its budget stretched: it would have to pay fees to publish its own research while also continuing to pay library subscriptions for non-open-access journals.