Huge transition costs will mean a bumpy ride to reach UK's Open Access, says RSC Chief Executive

July 18, 2012

The Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry has welcomed the government's Open Access proposals announced yesterday, but said the estimated £50 million annual transition costs would mean a bumpy ride ahead for UK researchers and institutions. 

Dr Robert Parker said the RSC had always supported a move towards Gold , but warned that money diverted from the already frozen science budget could hit research projects.

He added: "No new money is being found to help with the significant transition costs to the new Open Access publishing model, so the RSC is ready to work with the government to work out how this hole can be plugged. We hope the £50 million to fund the transition will not come from research budgets. 

"If it does, the cost of Gold Open Access could lead to less UK research and fewer papers being published by UK researchers. The evolution to Open Access without additional funding could prove problematic, especially for the most productive research institutions. This could mean a bumpy ride as we begin the journey towards full Open Access, particularly while we wait for other nations to decide whether to follow suit."

The Research Councils UK (RCUK) announced its new Open Access policy yesterday. It stated that all peer reviewed papers that result from research wholly or partially funded by the councils must be published in journals that are compliant with RCUK policy on Open Access. They will provide block grants to Institutions, to fund the Author Processing Charges (APCs) required under the new system. There is no clarity yet on the level of funding RCUK will provide, nor how it will be distributed.

Dr Parker stressed that all RSC journals will be compliant with RCUK requirements for Gold Open Access, ensuring the best research from the UK can continue to be published in the RSC's leading international journals. 

But he added: "We do have concern with the shorter six-month embargo period the RCUK has adopted, for journals that do not offer a Gold Open Access option.. This does not align with the Government's recommendation of an up to 12 month embargo period for science, technology and engineering publications.

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