Appropriately, OA has become a funding requirement of both the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and Research Councils UK (RCUK), and the 2012 Finch recommendations on making the transition were broadly accepted and supported by the then government.
The transition from traditional models of research publication towards new open access models isn’t an easy journey. The world of academic publishing is an old and complex one, intimately linked with prestige and the perceived quality of research outputs. We are aboard a boat that needs to be cautiously helmed, not rocked.
We have already come a long way, but how far exactly has been difficult to define. For this reason, the Universities UK (UUK) Open Access Co-ordination Group, which I have the pleasure of chairing, has commissioned a substantive piece of research to begin to answer this question. Experts from across the academic publishing world have collaborated on this landmark project, which will be used as a benchmark for future studies, all of which will contribute to an informed and progressive policy direction.
We can now show robustly that:
Journal publishing models employed by global and UK authors
Source: Monitoring the Transition to Open Access
Costs to universities for seven publishers, 2014
Range of APC payments for the top 10 publishers
The UUK group’s commissioned report provides a welcome evidence base, but makes no policy recommendations. More work is needed to monitor and understand the practical implications of developments in this fast moving and complex landscape, and we can expect, and welcome, commentary and interpretation from all those involved.
What we do know, however, is that we are moving ever closer to realising the full benefits of open access publishing, and that a spirit of practical cooperation and aspiration shared by all stakeholders is as important as ever. We must now ensure that the current momentum of this important transition is sustained, and in the most effective way possible.