Finch and PEER Reports Energise the Scholarly Communication and Open Access Debate
This week has seen the publication of two major reports in the ongoing debate over how to stimulate and enhance research by increasing access to research findings published online – so called ‘open access’: the deliberations of the Finch Group and the final report of the three-year European PEER study.
The Finch Report
The Finch Report, published on 18 June by the Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings chaired by Dame Janet Finch, represents the outcome of months of discussions between libraries, publishers, research funders and academics.
The Group was asked by the Government to recommend how more people can be given access to the publications that arise from research - most of which, including thousands from Leicester, are currently locked away behind publishers’ paywalls and only available online to individuals or organisations with a subscription.
The report makes 10 key recommendations, the most important of which is to increase publication in open access or hybrid journals (the so called Gold Open Access route) where the costs of publication are met by article processing charges rather than subscriptions and the resulting articles can be accessed by anyone. The report proposes that additional funds be found by both research funders and institutions in order to enable their researchers to be able to pay these article processing charges (APCs). A forthcoming report from the JISC Open Access Implementation Group on the impact of funding APCs on organisations is expected in the near future.
There has already been considerable interest and reaction from the academic and media community in response to the report.
• The Guardian
• The BBC
The PEER Project
The final results from PEER (Publishing and the Ecology of European Research), a three-year open access experiment funded by the European Union, were published on 19 June. The experiment involved nine major journal publishers working closely with a network of European national and institutional repositories. A key objective of the study was to find out what might happen if repositories such as the Leicester Research Archive were to be systematically filled with research papers by publishers rather than sporadically by authors themselves. Would this reduce use of the final version of record on the publishers’ web sites?
The project showed that rather than reducing demand for the publishers’ final version, availability in an open access repository was associated with a substantial 11.4% uplift in publisher downloads because the research papers were easier to find and access online. So, as well as gaining a citation advantage, authors depositing their publications in an open archive such as the Leicester Research Archive are likely to gain more readers.
Separate PEER findings are available for the three main strands of the research programme: which looked at user behaviour and repository economics as well as usage.
To discuss either or both of the above reports in more detail, please contact:
Gareth Johnson (Finch Report) email@example.com
Ian Rowlands (PEER) firstname.lastname@example.org