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.