Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Research councils back free online access

Guardian Unlimited | Online | Research councils back free online access:
"Thousands of British academics in every subject from art history to zoology will soon be required to make their research freely available online, the UK research councils have announced.

The move flies in the face of government reluctance to offend the publishing industry and is a victory for proponents of open access to research findings. By making free access a condition of grants, the research councils, which control billions of pounds worth of funding, hope to give British research more impact worldwide as it is taken up and cited by other researchers."

The British are moving resolutely ahead to embrace open access to scholarship. The article portrays this as an opportunity for cost-saving for libraries who have been paying high subscription costs. I suspect the advantage for libraries is not as clearly cut. Scholarly communication is in great transition. Libraries are not the passive recipients of that communication. They must play a collaborative role with publishers. While libraries will probably save in the short term, it is not clear what will happen to publishers and that will surely affect not only libraries, but scholars as well...