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UK government mistaken in gold focus, says committee

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The UK's Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Committee has described the UK Government’s current focus on gold open access as a mistake. The committee said that the commitment to increasing access to published research findings, and the desire to achieve full open access, are welcome. However, whilst gold open access is a desirable ultimate goal, focusing on it during the transition to a fully open access world is a mistake, according to a report by BIS.

The Report calls on the Government and RCUK to reconsider their preference for gold open access during the five-year transition period, and give due regard to the evidence of what it described as the vital role that green open access and repositories have to play as the UK moves towards full open access. 

The Report recommends that: the Government take an active role in promoting standardisation and compliance across subject and institutional repositories; RCUK reinstates and strengthens the immediate deposit mandate in its original policy and improve the monitoring and enforcement of mandated deposit; and that the Government and RCUK revise their policies to place an upper limit of six month embargoes on STEM subject research and up to 12 month embargoes for HASS subject research. It also recommends that the Government mitigate against the impact on universities of paying article processing charges out of their own reserves and that, if the preference for gold is maintained, the Government and RCUK should amend their policies so that APCs are only paid to publishers of pure gold rather than hybrid journals to eliminate the risk of double-dipping.

The report also recommended that the Government work to introduce a reduced VAT rate for e-journals. 'We do not accept that the Government has done enough to date and urge it to seek a derogation on this point,' said the report. It also advises that non-disclosure clauses should not be used in publishing contracts that include the use of public funds.