Free and open access to publicly-funded research offers significant social and economic benefits. The Government, in line with its overarching commitment to transparency and open data, is committed to ensuring that such research should be freely accessible. As major bodies charged with investing public money in research, the Research Councils take very seriously their responsibilities in making the outputs from this research publicly available – not just to other researchers, but also to potential users in business, charitable and public sectors, and to the general public.
In June 2012 the report from the National Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings (the ‘Finch Group’) - Accessibility, sustainability, excellence: how to expand access to research publications was published. The report sets out an encouraging and challenging road map to improve open access to scholarly literature and the Research Councils have used the findings of the group to further develop the policiesthat they have had in place since 2005.
In order to help the implementation of the policy, the Research Councils are introducing from April 2013 a new funding mechanism - a block grant to universities and eligible research organisations to cover the cost of article processing charges (APCs). Further information about the block grant can be found in the announcement and in the spreadsheet which shows the distribution of block grants by research organisation.
On 13th November 2012, the Research Councils held a workshop to discuss monitoring of the policy. A note of the meeting and the presentations given by Mark Thorley ; Geraldine Clement-Stoneham; Gerry Lawson and Ian Carter are available for information.
The Government responded to the recommendations of the Finch Report; that response includes further clarification on the treatment of embargo periods in those case where publicly funded research does not have access to Article Processing Charge (APC) Funds for OA publication purposes. The way this impacts on the Research Councils’ position is still under discussion.
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