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December 09, 2005

Fellows of the UK Royal Society endorse Open Access

"Forty-two Fellows of the Royal Society (FRS), including five Nobel laureates, have written an open letter (December 7) to the Royal Society dissenting from its November 24 position statement on OA. The letter remains open for more signatures. Excerpt:

As Fellows of the Royal Society, we would like to express our disappointment with the Society's recent position statement on open access to published research. The society's statement, which takes a largely negative stance on open access, appears to be aimed at delaying implementation of the Research Councils UK's proposed policy on access to research outputs. As working scientists who support open access to published research, we believe that the Society should support RCUK's proposal, rather than oppose it. The proposed RCUK policy will ensure that the results of research funded by the Research Councils are made freely and rapidly available, maximizing their utility not only to the scholarly community in the United Kingdom and around the world, but also to practitioners (including doctors and nurses) and to the British public whose taxes largely support the research. The RCUK policy has strong backing from librarians and academics, and has received official support from Universities UK, the organization that represents UK university vice-chancellors and principals. In seeking to delay or even to block the proposed RCUK policy, the Royal Society appears to be putting the concerns of existing publishers (including the Society itself) ahead of the needs of science. The position statement ignores considerable evidence demonstrating the viability of open access, instead warning ominously of 'disastrous' consequences for science publishing. We believe that these concerns are mistaken. The move towards open access to research literature builds on the tradition of making research data openly available, a standard that is well established within the scientific community. For example, free availability of genetic data, such as the genome sequences of humans, mice, pathogens and plants, has greatly accelerated the pace of research in both academic and commercial settings.

(PS: The letter shows that the Royal Society did not speak for its Fellows or even consult them on this question.)

Source: P.Suber. OANews Blog (6 December 2005) [FullText]

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