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scientists respond to select committee report on open access publishing

These comments follow the publication of a report into the scientific publishing market by the Science and Technology Committee.

Vitek Tracz, Chairman, Current Science Group Ltd, said:

“We welcome this important and forward-looking report which marks the beginning of a new era. Crucially, the report recommends that UK research funding bodies mandate free access to all their research findings. This validates the author-pays ‘Open Access’ publishing model which we at BioMed Central pioneered.

“Access to scientific research is an international issue. The conclusions of this report have been announced just as the US House of Representatives has made a similar recommendation that research funded by National Institutes for Health (NIH) should be freely available. Also, the European Commission is currently conducting a study on scientific publications. This is the point of no return: It is now time for the publishing model to change.”

Arie Jongejan, CEO Science & Technology, at Elsevier, said:

“We welcome this report on scientific publishing and welcome a number of its recommendations, for example, those that pertain to VAT, increasing library budgets, and providing funds to support digital preservation. We welcome the recognition that there are still a number of issues that require resolution for author-pays/Open Access publishing. However, we consider some of the concerns expressed in the report about Government policy on scientific publishing to be over-stated, and we are doubtful that the Government will necessarily agree to recommendations made by the report, e.g. additional funding suggestions. We will be reviewing the report in full detail before commenting further.”

Jan Velterop, Publisher, BioMed Central, said:

“The importance of this report cannot easily be overstated. It gives the clearest political signal yet that open access to the research literature is to be regarded of great benefit to science and society.”

Julia King, Institute of Physics, said:

“The recognition of the role of Professional and Learned Societies in the report is very positive. The Institute of Physics reinvests all surpluses made on its publishing activities in the support of physics in the UK and Ireland, through such activities as developing schools science syllabuses, supporting teachers, organising conferences and public outreach. As an example, 2005 has been designated the International Year of Physics, which is being celebrated in the UK as Einstein Year. The Institute is leading the UK activities and is investing an additional £1M in promoting physics to young people and the public during 2005.”

Graham Taylor, Director of Academic Publishing at The Publishers Association, said:

“Altogether we believe that the Committee has managed to capture the essence of the debate surrounding scientific publication. We welcome a number of its recommendations, with several of which we are already engaged directly.

“We hear the call for the UK Government to take a lead on these matters internationally. We already see the UK industry as representing a centre of excellence for scientific publishing globally, and we look forward to engaging with Government and its agencies on the issues that the Committee has raised in order to ensure an efficient and sustainable strategy for the future.”

Dr Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said:

“This report reinforces our view that the current system of publishing the results of scientific research is failing both science and the public at large. I welcome the recommendations it makes and the opportunities it provides for scientists, publishers, research funders and the Government to engage in debate about better ways to distribute the results of scientific research. “I look forward to seeing the Government response to this report. There is still much progress to be made and we are eager to work with all parties to put in place a system which maximizes the benefits of scientific research.”

Sally Morris, Chief Executive, Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, said:

“The crucial document will really be the Government’s response to the report, not the report itself – and that’s unlikely before the Autumn. However, In general, ALPSP is pleased that the Committee has taken on board so much of what all parties were telling it, and has produced a useful summary of the evidence and the arguments. We welcome the support for learned societies, and the credit which is given to publishers for their work in developing innovative electronic interfaces, in creating projects which provide online access for the poorest countries, and in supporting the peer review system.”

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