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UK government agrees to make publicly-funded research available to citizens for free

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The UK government has agreed to comply with several recommendations that will see the results of public-funded research being made available to the public for no cost.

UK flag (FLICKR)
UK flag (FLICKR)

The UK government has agreed to meet the requests of a recent proposal that will make publicly-funded research accessible to the general public for free. The move comes as a result of a proposal made by sociologist Janet Finch, who suggested the changes be made in order to better maximize the results of research funded by public dollars. In a letter written by the UK's Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willets, several changes are outlined, including making research available to the general public — increased access through public libraries is also mentioned — as well as extending the for-pay licensing available to universities and businesses. Another issue, however, is where the funding will come from to publish and host the materials. To that end, the government is deciding to move towards the so-called "gold" model, where publication costs are paid upfront; it's recommended that institutions draw from their already-existing research budgets to cover the costs.

Research Councils UK and The Higher Education Funding Council for England are amongst the other entities that have concurred with Finch's proposals. Precise implementation details for the new strategy are to be worked out in the coming months, with the Higher Education Funding Council planning to adopt the standards as part of its Research Excellence Framework in 2014.