News story

Government to open up publicly funded research

Universities, businesses and the public to have better access to British scientific research and academic papers by 2014.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

16 Jul 2012

The government has announced that it will make publicly funded scientific research available for anyone to read for free, accepting recommendations in a report on open access by Dame Janet Finch.

This will likely see a major increase in the number of taxpayer-funded research papers freely available to the public.

Science Minister David Willetts said:

“Removing paywalls that surround taxpayer funded research will have real economic and social benefits. It will allow academics and businesses to develop and commercialise their research more easily and herald a new era of academic discovery.

“This development will provide exciting new opportunities and keep the UK at the forefront of global research to drive innovation and growth.”

The government’s decision is outlined in a formal response (PDF, 90 Kb) to recommendations made in the Finch Report.

Better access for the public

Currently most formally published research is only available behind restricted paywalls. Reforms will see publications opened up to a greater audience, providing more opportunities for research and development across a range of sectors.

They will also support the commercial exploitation of research, contributing to the Government’s economic growth agenda.

Among the recommendations that have been accepted by the Government are:

  • Moving to deliver open access through a ‘gold’ model, where article processing-charges are paid upfront to cover the cost of publication.
  • Walk-in rights for the general public, so they can have free access to global research publications owned by members of the UK Publishers’ Association, via public libraries.
  • Extending the licensing of access enjoyed by universities to high technology businesses for a modest charge.

The details of how these measures should be developed will be worked on by funders in consultation with universities, research institutions, authors and publishers.

Published 16 July 2012