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U.K. House of Commons Science and Technology Committee Inquiry into Scientific Publications Releases Final Report

:: Richard Poynder reports in Information Today NewsBreaks that the U.K. House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee has completed its work, and published its final report, Scientific Publications: Free for all? (see 20 July 2004). Poynder notes:

Following 7 months of deliberation, the U.K. House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee has concluded that the current model for scientific publishing is unsatisfactory, and it has called on the U.K. government to support open access (OA). Arguing that traditional subscription-based publishing is restricting access to research, as library budgets fail to keep pace with constant price rises, the report recommends that the government create a network of institutional repositories and mandate all publicly funded researchers to deposit a copy of all their articles in the repositories, thereby making their research accessible to all “free of charge, online.”

From the Summary of the report (pdf file):

Academic libraries are struggling to purchase subscriptions to all the journal titles needed by their users. This is due both to the high and increasing journal prices imposed by commercial publishers and the inadequacy of library budgets to meet the demands placed upon them by a system supporting an ever increasing volume of research. Whilst there area number of measures that can be taken by publishers, libraries and academics to improve the provision of scientific publications, a Government strategy is urgently needed.

This Report recommends that all UK higher education institutions establish institutional repositories on which their published output can be stored and from which it can be read, free of charge, online. It also recommends that Research Councils and other Government funders mandate their funded researchers to deposit a copy of all of their articles in this way. The Government will need to appoint a central body to oversee the implementation of the repositories; to help with networking; and to ensure compliance with the technical standards needed to provide maximum functionality. Set–up and running costs are
relatively low, making institutional repositories a cost–effective way of improving access to scientific publications.

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