Leading European Library Organization Firmly Supports Research Councils UK New Open Access Policy

Policy that requires UK-funded research be deposited in openly accessible archives will strengthen increased investment in research.

SPARC Europe (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), a leading organization of European research libraries, calls for wide support for the proposed policy released by Research Councils UK (RCUK), the main public investor in fundamental research in the UK. The policy, announced in June, requires Research Council grantees to deposit the resulting research reports into openly accessible repositories in order to speed and widen dissemination.

David Prosser, Director of SPARC Europe, commented – ‘We are currently in the position where UK researchers cannot get easy access to all the work of their peers, despite the vast majority of it being published online. So, while the UK Government has greatly increased research spending, to £2.4B for the Research Councils, the return on this investment is not maximized. If implemented, the RCUK policy would rectify this.’ RCUK spent over a year consulting universities, academic libraries, researchers, and publishers to develop a fair, well-balanced policy that covers research outputs in the form of journal articles or conference proceedings. SPARC Europe encourages submission of favourable comments that support the draft during the public comment period set to end August 31st.

According to RCUK, one of the policy’s cornerstones is that ‘ideas and knowledge derived from publicly-funded research must be made available and accessible for public use, interrogation, and scrutiny, as widely, rapidly and effectively as practicable.’ The Research Councils will therefore require grant holders to deposit copies of any resultant published journal articles and conference proceedings in suitable open access institutional or subject-based repositories. These repositories are online databases that provide an electronic archive of the research that is immediately and openly available over the Internet. To further improve access to publicly funded research, the Research Councils will also make funds available for researchers to pay open access journal publication fees. While encouraging the practice of publishing articles in open access journals, the policy preserves academic freedom by not mandating submissions to such journals.

The academic libraries represented by SPARC Europe look forward to the challenge of working with their academics, the Research Councils, and publishers to maximize research impact by implementing the policy. ‘Many of our members, especially in the UK, already have great experience with running institutional repositories and there is a strong commitment to further develop these repositories as research tools,’ said David Prosser. ‘Ensuring access to high-quality, peer-reviewed research is one of the central remits of the library and the new policy will enable greater access to a wider range of research, so benefiting researchers, students, and society in general.’

SPARC Global