Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Will the RCUK support OA?

The UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has issued its report on The Work of the Research Councils UK (dated March 16 but not released online until March 23). Ever since the government rejected (November 2004) the committee's OA recommendations (July 2004), we've wondered whether the independent RCUK might adopt some of those recommendations on its own authority. The new committee report is the first official sign that the RCUK might do just that.

Excerpt (§28, p. 16): 'We have already reported on the lengths that the Government went to in ensuring that there was only one response to our Report on scientific publications in 2004. The Research Councils, to whom many of our recommendations were directed, did not all share the view of Government expressed in the Government Response. They have since indicated that they are to set out their own policy, which is likely to be based on principles placing a high value on the public accessibility of publicly-funded research. Lord Sainsbury told us that Research Councils were "totally independent" in their capacity to make policy on this front". He added that, as Government funds the Councils, "inevitably there is some influence in terms of their performance and we have a responsibility to monitor performance. They are independent. They take that independence very seriously and, if we overstep the mark, they tell us to go away". OST confirmed that Research Councils were free to implement their policy, provided that it was funded from within their existing allocations. OST is well aware that, given Research Councils' existing commitments and the levels of funding required to pursue any change of approach, the Research Councils would be unable to proceed properly without Government support. In view of their reliance on Government funding, there is an obvious and unhealthy difficulty for the Research Councils in arguing strongly against a reluctance by Government to support a policy which the Councils believe will be of benefit to the research community.'