Some progress on Open Access

This morning there have been two very interesting developments on open access.

First, Doug Kell, Chief Executive of the BBSRC, responded on his blog to my open letter. His reply is detailed and goes some way to clarifying progress in the approaches that Research Councils will take to improve uptake of OA publishing options. I would encourage you to read it and respond.

He makes some encouraging noises, although I did not yet see any mention of a commitment to follow Wellcome in affirming “the principle that it is the intrinsic merit of the work, and not the title of the journal in which an author’s work is published, that should be considered in making funding decisions.” This would be an important component of any revised policy (as discussed in the comments beneath my last post).

And secondly, Elsevier have this morning announced they are withdrawing support for the Research Works Act. It remains to be seen what further steps the publisher will make to improve their commitment to open access modes of publishing but this is a positive and welcome step.

Update (21:42): This post was bashed out as a rapid response to this morning’s developments. The news about Elsevier’s abandonment of support for the RWA triggered  plenty of reaction around the blogosphere. It was widely welcomed but also seen largely as a tactical move rather than a change of heart. It is progress surely but, as several commenters have pointed out, does not yet represent a material change on the publisher’s OA policies. That will take sustained pressure.

The blogs on Elsevier’s announcement that caught my eye today were from: Cameron Neylon on Google+Gavia Libraria, the library loon, the irrepressible Mike Taylor and Bjorn Brembs,  and Michael Eisen, who exhorts people to pause briefly to celebrate the news but then to “get back to the trenches”.

Is it ironic to suggest that the very open access that allows such effective sharing of news and information within the blogosphere has been a powerful mechanism for undermining Elsevier’s opposition to the growth of open access in academic publishing? Perhaps there’s a lesson there.


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3 Responses to Some progress on Open Access

  1. Mike says:

    Excellent work, Stephen. Your strategic, well-considered prodding looks to be generating positive results.

    • Stephen says:

      I claim no credit Mike. Elsevier’s move today was clearly in response to a massive ground-swell of opinion. And Doug Kell’s blog was a chance for the BBSRC to clarify the way their thinking on OA is developing — something I presume had already been going on in the background.

      However, I’m sure the eruption of anger over Elsevier and the RWA, which has shone a very bright light on open access policies, is helping to move things along in the right direction.

  2. Pingback: Elsevier, the Research Works Act and Open Access: where to now? | Reciprocal Space