Open Access News

News from the open access movement


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Campaign for OA to UK tax-funded research

Free Our Books (or Free Our Books and Research Papers) is a new campaign for OA to taxpayer-funded research in the UK, to be launched at the Internet For Activists conference (London, March 14, 2009). (Thanks to infinite thĜught.)

... We, the citizens, through the state, pay for the production of academic books and research papers twice, first through salaries and research grants, and second through the purchase of books and journal subscriptions. This is how the the most fundamental principles of academia, to study and to share its findings, are obstructed, and its operation is made far more expensive and cumbersome. Good news is that this has been partially recognised and Research Councils UK (RCUK) has pushed hard (2005) in the direction of both mandatory self archiving (2006) of all research outputs and open access in general.

When it comes to books, the argument, however, isn't as simple and as straight forwad as in the case of Guardian's campaign Free Our Data - whose name we're reusing. Nor has it been problematised widely, like it has been in the case of journals and RCUK recommendations. Significant contribution of editors, subeditors, proofreaders and other working on texts being produced (wages) and personal gain of authors of best selling works (share of sales) complicates the issue. In short, open access and self-archiving of publicly funded books, whose importance for social sciences and humanities is enormous (unlike in physics and maths) is yet to be widely discussed and there aren't immidiately obvious solutions visible. That is, unless we treat books, as we think we should, as just another form of research output - both when funded directly by one of RCUK councils, or by the individual universities. ...

The direct goal of the campaign is to have electronic copies of all the majority publicly funded research, including all books and journal papers, available to citizens free of charge online. ...

Mandatory self-archiving at the time of publishing is one way to achieve this. ...

Physics and maths research communities have made huge steps in this direction (arxiv.org) in regard to journal publishing, which is their most important publishing form ...

We have a unique historic chance of reversing the trend of privatization of publicly funded knowledge production. Our strongest arguments are public funds behind our work and our departments and collective work within them. ...

In UK, we can use the experiences of Free Our Data campaign. Most importantly, we need to get our institutions to commit to a self-archiving policy. On the Europeran level, we should sign the EC petition [supporting a policy] which mandates open access self-archiving ...