Everyone’s talking about open access (OA). It has been a year of dramatic developments in the drive to liberate access to the research literature and the blogosphere is buzzing with excited chatter.
Well, perhaps not everyone and not even the whole of the blogosphere. It’s important not to get too carried away. I wonder how much in the online discussion has spilled over into common rooms and group meetings around the world? I fret sometimes that the online activity on this topic masks a lack on interest on the ground among researchers too focused on their next grant, next paper, next lecture or next committee meeting to devote time to the issue.
For that reason that I’m grateful to the Science Communication Forum at Imperial for organising, a discussion meeting next Thursday evening on open access, and in particular on the implications of the new RCUK OA policy. Mark Thorley of RCUK will present the new policy and then Richard van Norden will chair a discussion between Mark and myself and the rest of the audience. Also in attendance will be representatives from HEFCE, RLUK, NERC, Wellcome Trust, MRC, NIMR and the Imperial College Library
The new RCUK policy is a marked improvement on the current one. But although it surpasses some of the more tepid recommendations of the Finch report, the policy still falls short in some eyes of the ideals and declared goals of the open access movement, recently re-stated by the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI).
If you’re in or near London next week, please come along — it promises to be a good session. As I wrote recently, people who know are asking are some important questions of the RCUK policy and its implications. The event is free to attend but you will have to reserve a place.
To get yourself in the mood, you could do worse than to peruse the BOAI statement, which defines the goals of the OA movement for the next ten years. It reveals a different set of emphases compared to Finch, with greater focus on the role of universities to mandate and facilitate the use of green OA routes.
The document is clearly laid out and easy to read, though it does come across as a little dry. For a more palatable alternative that provides additional context, allow me to point you towards this excellent interview by Richard Poynder with Alma Swan, one of the central architects of the statement and an expert and thoughtful advocate for OA.