Policy paper

Open Access: Economic Analysis of Alternative Options for the UK Science and Research System

Analyses the cost effectiveness of policy options for increasing open access to UK research publications.

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



Analytical note that explains the economic rationale for an open access policy.

‘Open access’ is defined as the ability to download, read and print electronically published refereed journal articles, leaving aside research content that is publicly accessible in other formats. Open access enables open innovation and encourages exploration across applications. It fosters multi-disciplinary work and collaboration. These benefits legitimate government intervention to bring access to socially optimal levels.

The note also sets out a framework for comparing the outcomes of alternative policies to expand access to scholarly research. It then uses the framework to compare the costs of alternative policies for open access in the UK.

Evaluating alternative policies for government intervention shows that a mandate offering all articles attributable to publicly funded Research Councils in Gold open access is cost-effective. ‘Gold’ open access is where authors publish in an open access journal that provides immediate open access to all its articles on the publisher’s website. This mandate would cost around 1% of the Science Budget but will deliver a significant change in open access above current levels.

Published 21 March 2013