Few academic researchers and scholars deny the intellectual, scientific, economic and social benefits of open access to research findings. Yet, in the wake of the Finch report and the publication of the open access policies of most British funding bodies, open access has emerged as a hotly contested issue. Notwithstanding the vehemence of long-committed activists, the passionate nature of recent arguments belies the arcane and technical nature of the matter at hand. Open access has indeed become a battleground whereupon scholarly and scientific practises, public policy, copyright laws, market mechanisms and library services collide and pull researchers in opposite directions.
We, as editors of the History journals listed below, would like to make our views clear in relation to the government’s planned implementation (in conjunction with RCUK and HEFCE) of the Finch Report. We fully support initiatives to make scholarship as widely and freely available as possible, above all on line. However, we have serious concerns about several aspects of the proposed implementation of the policy, which we believe will have a serious effect on the reputation of UK scholarship internationally, on peer review, and on the rights of authors.
This is a very busy time of the year for academics and few of us have had the chance to investigate the issues raised by Gold Open Access and its imposition upon the UK research base.
In response to a colleague’s suggestion, I have listed some of the reasons why the profession should be very concerned about the proposed Open Access policy and mobilize against it – at once.
I recently and belatedly woke up to the implications of the move towards Gold Open Access recommended by the so-called Finch Report. Researching the issues raised by the report on behalf of the International Society for First World War Studies, I came across a range of useful resources which may be of help to other colleagues and organizations.
Along with members of the Finch Working Group, the British Government and proponents of Gold OA have been moving fast and aggressively to impose a model whereby authors are required to pay to publish the results of their scientific and scholarly work.
It is essential academic researchers and independent scholars mobilize to mitigate the risks a move to Gold OA would entail. The debate over Open Access is a complex matter, where scholarly and scientific practices, public policy, copyright laws, market mechanisms and professional service often collide and pull in different directions. It is therefore essential to make all relevant information available for stakeholders to adopt an informed.
The following list is – by no means – comprehensive, let alone exhaustive. I will try to update it as the debate progresses.