The UK's continuing leadership and initiative in opening access to
research is wonderful and only to be applauded, supported and
To help make the initiative focused and effective, I would suggest that
the following four questions should be given some thought.
If "UK public access to UK publicly funded research" is to be the
guiding principle, and the two ways of providing it are either the
Green OA self-archiving of articles published for free in subscription
journals (GRNOA) or the publishing of articles in Gold OA journals
for a fee (GLDOA):
1. GLOBALISM. Is the objective really just UK public access to UK
research? Is the purpose of publishing research not to have it taken
up, built upon, used and applied in further research and applications
globally, and reciprocally, to the benefit of the public that funded the
research? (And aren't UK OA mandates likely to inspire complementary,
reciprocal OA mandates globally?)
2. RECIPROCITY. Does paying unilaterally for GLDOA for UK
research -- making UK research freely accessible globally, but
with the UK still having to pay subscriptions to access non-UK
research -- make sense? Is GRNOA, which does not entail double
payment, not more likely to inspire global reciprocity? And would
global GRNOA not lead to GLDOA thereafter anyway?
3. BOOKS. What about books resulting from UK publicly funded
research? Would it not be a better idea for the time being to merely
recommend rather than require that books be made OA, rather than
risk resistance from authors who are happy to give away their journal
articles but not their books?
4. DATA. What about authors who do not wish to make their research
data freely accessible to all immediately, having gathered it for the
purpose of analyzing and data-mining it themselves? Would it not be
a better idea for the time being to merely recommend rather than
require that data be made OA as soon as possible, rather than risk
resistance from authors who are happy to give away their journal articles
but not their data?