Response from the Government
We welcome the publication of this Report. The inquiry
and the subsequent Report have helped to widen and deepen the
The Government's ten-year science and innovation
investment framework (2004-2014) has recently been published.
It was recognised that the vision outlined in the ten-year framework
will not be possible without a close partnership with science
based companies, the scientific community and research charities.
In our response to this inquiry we have ensured that we have consulted
with key stakeholders from all areas of the debate, and we will
continue to do so in the future.
The important contribution that dissemination and
availability of research data can make through the provision of
an effective information infrastructure is recognised in the ten-year
framework. The availability of information systems to systematically
collect, preserve and make available digital information will
be vital in supporting the government's broader science and innovation
goals, and we are pleased that the committee have also highlighted
the importance of these areas.
To help meet the objectives of the ten-year framework,
the Government wants to see the outcomes of publicly funded research
made available to the widest possible audience, following peer
review. However, business models which contribute to this overall
goal must maintain quality and at a reasonable cost.
Format of our response
The response to the Committee Report has been led
by the DTI, with contributions from DFID, DfES, DCMS, HMC&E
and DoH. We have also consulted at length with RCUK, HEFCE and
the JISC and with colleagues in funding bodies of the devolved
Many of the issues raised in the Select Committee
Report are being taken forward by bodies funded either through
Government or their agencies. As an "arms length" body
the Office of Fair Trading will be responding separately with
detailed comments on recommendations specifically addressed to
them but we are aware of the contents of their reply.
We have considered what would be the most helpful
structure for this response. All the points raised by the Select
Committee have been addressed. However, where there were closely
related issues, we have provided a single integrated response,
making clear which of the Committee's individual points are being
A glossary of acronyms is provided in Annex A.
List of recommendations and Government responses
1. It is discouraging that the Government does
not yet appear to have given much consideration to balancing the
needs of the research community, the taxpayer and the commercial
sectors for which it has responsibility. (Paragraph 22)
The interests of the research community, the taxpayer
and the publishing industry (whether commercial or not for profit)
are closely intertwined. The continuation of widely disseminated,
accessible top quality peer-reviewed research, produced efficiently
and at competitive prices is in everyone's interests. Discussions
about this have involved a number of different departments, and
the Government are grateful that the Committee's inquiry has promoted
a more detailed debate. Within DTI, OST and the sector unit with
Business Relations responsibilities for the publishing industry
work closely together. Since it is Ministers who decide policy
and not officials, and OST and the sector unit are responsible
to the same Secretary of State, the language of "conflict
of interest" is not appropriate here. Ministers receive advice
from across the Department and reach a decision based on the evidence.
In a market in which different organisations are
competing to provide services to the academic community, the Government
does not think it should intervene to support one model or another.
The Government is also not convinced that the "author-pays"
model is inherently superior to the current model.
Consequently, the Government's approach is to
facilitate a level playing field so the
market can develop without
any institutional barriers being put in the way of any particular
publishing model. This option is the most appropriate to encourage
competition and innovation in publishing, to promote greater accessibility,
to maintain quality and to retain freedom of choice for authors.
This approach does not favour one part of the value chain at the
expense of another and is in the long-term interests of a sustainable
scientific publications market.
2. We are convinced that the amount of public
money invested in scientific research and its outputs is sufficient
to merit Government involvement in the publishing process. Indeed,
we would be very surprised if Government did not itself feel the
need to account for its investment in the publishing process.
We were disappointed by how little thought has been given to the
issues within Government thus far and hope that this Report will
prove to be a catalyst for change. (Paragraph 24)
18. Government invests a significant amount of
money in scientific research, the outputs of which are expressed
in terms of journal articles. It is accountable for this expenditure
to the public. We were dismayed that the Government showed so
little concern about where public money ended up. (Paragraph 55)
(2) (18) A considerable
amount of work has been done on this issue. The future of scientific
publications has been widely discussed between the DTI, DfES,
DCMS, DFID and DoH and a cross-Government view has been formulated.
The contributions of HEFCE, RCUK and the JISC were also important
in formulating our strategy. This Committee Report has also provided
a valuable contribution to the Government thinking. It is not
obvious, however, that the "author pays" business model
will give better value for money than the current one and the
Government will require clear evidence before supporting it further.
An author-pays model would lead to industry (which
is a significant user) paying less and therefore, unless the author-pays
model was cheaper to run, the Government would find itself forced
to pay more. So far we have seen no convincing evidence that the
author pays model would be cheaper to operate than electronic
versions under the current model. It should be noted that the
UK is responsible for 5.3% of articles to global STM journals,
but only contributes 3.3% of the global subscription market. Therefore,
a publishing model which loads the cost onto the authors of articles
rather than the users themselves is not likely to be in our national
interest. This is implicitly recognised in recommendations 68
and 74 below.
3. The backdrop of international interest and
momentum for change sets the scene for the UK Government to take
a lead in establishing an efficient and sustainable environment
for the publication of research findings. (Paragraph 25)
53. Having taken the step of funding and supporting
institutional repositories, the UK Government would need to become
an advocate for them at a global level. If all countries archived
their research findings in this way, access to scientific publications
would increase dramatically. We see this as a great opportunity
for the UK to lead the way in broadening access to publicly-funded
research findings and making available software tools and resources
for accomplishing this work. (Paragraph 131)
(3) The Government will
be actively participating in international debate on scientific
and other academic publishing, and we will be seeking to make
a strong contribution to the current EU study into scientific
(53) The Research Libraries
Network (the RLN), whose members include the UK Higher Education
Funding councils, RCUK and the British Library, has been established
to act as a high level advocate for research information and will
provide the UK with a strong voice in international debates on
the development of research information technology in forthcoming
The Government has also endorsed the Declaration
on Access to Research Data from Public Funding. The OECD have
been asked to take further steps towards proposing Principles
and Guidelines on Access to Research Data from Public Funding,
taking into account possible restrictions related to security,
property rights and privacy.
RCUK are currently producing a policy framework on
the dissemination and preservation of the information outputs
of research. The Government will assess the implications of this
advice once it has become available.
When agreed this framework should constitute an important
statement of principle that may be used to underline the UK's
stance and commitment in the international arena.
The JISC has supported innovation in scholarly publishing
in close collaboration with organisations in other countries.
The JISC is also taking forward developments in standards to support
repositories in the UK in partnership with international standards
4. We will give a copy of this Report to the UK
delegates to the Culture, Science and Education Committee of the
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. We hope that
the Committee will pursue the issues raised here, both within
the Council of Europe and on a wider international stage. (Paragraph
Noted and the Government will ensure that they receive
a copy of its response following publication by the Committee.
5. The British Library's Document Supply Service
is an efficient and cost-effective method of providing access
to articles in scientific journals. The decline in demand for
Document Supply notwithstanding, we are persuaded that the service
provides a valuable alternative route for users who would not
otherwise have access to the journals that they needed. We recommend
that the Government takes steps to protect the service. (Paragraph
The Government agrees that the British Library's
document supply service is valuable. It has recognised this by
providing funding of £2m from the Invest to Save Budget for
modernisation of the service. This has enabled the British Library
to improve efficiency, offering a high-speed service with secure
electronic delivery of documents. The British Library has also
been allocated additional grant in aid to implement a major reform
programme that will generate savings and provide further funding
for the improvement of services, including document supply.
6. We are not convinced that the publisher practice
of granting each subscriber access to a set number of digital
"copies" of a journal is either effective or necessary.
We recommend that the Joint Information Systems Committee strongly
argues the case against such restrictive practices when it negotiates
the terms for the next national site licence with publishers.
Although this practice is standard for some publishers,
the JISC never agrees to it. No JISC agreement is restricted to
a number of simultaneous users. The preferred model is that of
a common national licence, providing unlimited access to all registered
users of libraries in all universities and colleges able to take
up the deals negotiated by the JISC.
7. We congratulate the Medical Research Council
on its support of the principle that primary research data should
be made available to the scientific community for subsequent research.
We recommend that the Research Councils consider providing funds
to enable researchers to publish their primary data alongside
their research findings, where appropriate. (Paragraph 33)
The Government believes that the data underpinning
the results of publicly-funded research should be made available
as widely and rapidly as possible, along with the results themselves.
For a number of years now, the AHRB, ESRC and NERC have funded
data centres responsible for managing primary research data generated
from the research they support and for disseminating these data
to the wider community. There is a cross Research Council group
(led by CCLRC) looking at how research council policy needs to
be developed in this area. The Government is not persuaded that
additional funding needs to be provided to researchers rather,
there may need to be additional investment by research councils
to fund data facilities made available to support this objective.
Institutional or thematic repositories should provide a useful
environment for disseminating such information and linking it
to research results. For example, the Department of Health is
exploring the possibility of a NHS repository.
The JISC works closely with the Research Councils
and jointly hosts some of the primary data already supported by
Research Council funds, through services in the social sciences
and the arts and humanities, such as the Arts and Humanities Data
Service and the Economic and Social Data Service,.
The institutional repositories created through the JISC funded
FAIR programme already contain many types of academic material
including e-prints and primary research data which should prove
useful to researchers. The FAIR programme, through projects like
E-prints UK, is also developing infrastructure to allow all e-prints
stored in institutional repositories to be located irrespective
of their location. Crucially, all the JISC activity in this area
is standards based so that the interoperability between different
data and information is enabled.
8. All researchers, regardless of the nature of
their institution, should be granted access to the scientific
journals they need to carry out their work effectively. (Paragraph
9. We recommend that the Joint Information Systems
Committee and the NHS work together to implement joint procurement
procedures that reflect the close working patterns of NHS and
the higher education sector and represent value for money for
both. (Paragraph 36)
22. Current levels of flexibility within the journal
bundle do not present libraries with value for money. Whilst we
accept that unbundling STM information carries risks for the main
commercial publishers, only when flexible bundled deals are made
available will libraries achieve value for money on their subscriptions.
Furthermore, although we recognise that bundled deals may be advantageous
to libraries in certain circumstances, we are concerned about
the potential impact bundling may have on competition, given limited
library budgets and sustained STM journal price growth. (Paragraph
(8) The Government endorses
recommendation 8 in principle. Effective research depends upon
researchers having access to the results and findings of their
colleagues in the research community.
Overall, it is the Government's view that researchers
should be free to publish their output wherever and however they
consider most appropriate for their audience. However, this freedom
must be set in the wider context of:
a) two important principles stemming from the
Research Councils' obligations as public funders of research:
i. ideas and knowledge derived from publicly-funded
research should be available for public use and public interrogation
and scrutiny; therefore, the results of research funded by Research
Councils must be disseminated as widely and rapidly as possible;
ii. Research Councils are responsible for the
cost-effective use of public funds; therefore, the means of publication
must also be cost-effective.
b) International considerations (see for example
the response to recommendation 74)
c) the wider impact on the academic community
(see for example the response to recommendation 69)
d) The loss of the contribution to the publication
process from journal subscriptions by the private sector (see
response to recommendation 68).
JISC has taken the lead in coordinating national negotiations
for licensing deals, and continues to be well placed to lead on
this. The JISC is raising awareness within universities and colleges
to ensure they fully understand the beneficial terms of the JISC
model licence. The Government will encourage the HEIs and NHS
to explore whether their procurement procedures can be improved
by more joint activity.
The Government is keen to see improvements in the
procurement of academic publications and endorses the role of
the JISC to explore the establishment of a Content Procurement
Company. This would provide even more effective national co-ordination
of purchasing of academic content. Such a company would be able
to negotiate access to online content on behalf of all higher
and further education institutions through the JISC as well as
on behalf of other organisations such as the Research Libraries
Network, NHS or the Museum Libraries and Archives Commission.
This central negotiation will bring the benefit of terms and conditions
of use that would not be possible if agreements were negotiated
individually by institutions or organisations and much reduced
subscription charges for access to content.
(22) In the Government's
response to recommendations 20 and 27 we have stated that it is
important that libraries are adequately funded, but that the ultimate
choice on how funding is spent must be left to the libraries.
In many cases bundling deals do provide a means of increasing
value. We note that, to our knowledge, no large country has yet
struck a deal with a major publisher. However, we are looking
to the Higher Education funding bodies working through the JISC
to continue to pursue licensing agreements that open up the widest
body of material to the widest possible audience (including use
for teaching and access for the general public). For example,
the JISC is funding an analysis of Library Usage Statistics (due
to report at the end of 2004) which will help to inform this debate.
10. Teaching is a crucial university function.
Universities should be permitted, within reason, to derive maximum
value from the digital journals to which they subscribe by using
them for legitimate teaching purposes. We recommend that future
licensing deals negotiated by the Joint Information Systems Committee
explicitly include provisions to enable journal articles, whether
print or digital, to be used for teaching purposes. (Paragraph
The JISC's Model Licence already ensures that electronic
resources can be fully utilised in learning and teaching. The
relevant clauses allow for "use and manipulation of copyright
material" while protecting that material from abuse. This
means for example, that (providing it is properly attributed)
a lecturer can copy and paste text from a journal article into
a teaching material. However, the lecturer may not amend the published
text, and it is quite reasonable that publishers restrict such
amendments of copyright material. A restriction in the JISC Model
Licence states "For the avoidance of doubt, no alteration
of the words or their order is permitted".
In light of the report, the JISC also intends to
undertake an awareness programme regarding the licensing terms
of JISC agreements, to improve the community's understanding of
the flexibility provided in the licence terms.
11. It is not for either publishers or academics
to decide who should, and who should not, be allowed to read scientific
journal articles. We are encouraged by the growing interest in
research findings shown by the public. It is in society's interest
that public understanding of science should increase. Increased
public access to research findings should be encouraged by publishers,
academics and Government alike. (Paragraph 40)
The Government is not aware that there are major
problems in accessing scientific information, or that there is
a large unsatisfied demand for this. The Government would agree
that the readership of scientific journal articles should not
be deliberately restricted. We need to ensure that the public
has the information it needs to feel confident about debating
science and science related issues and making decisions on issues
where science is a factor. This can be done through journals,
but also public engagement activities. The Government is encouraging
greater public engagement with science through its own programme
and through publicly funded bodies such as the Research Councils.
Such engagement can only benefit science and society.
12. We are not convinced that journal articles
are consistently available to members of the public through public
libraries. (Paragraph 42)
The Government is not aware of any evidence of a
significant problem in meeting the public's needs in respect of
access to journals through public libraries. There are a number
of ways public libraries can help members of the public gain access
to journals. Whilst the larger public libraries may hold copies
of the most popular journals, most libraries will rely on the
inter-library loan network and the British Library's recently
modernised document supply service. If required, and subject to
a charge, the British Library can provide copies of documents
within two hours.
The Government published last year "Framework
for the Future", its vision for public libraries over the
next ten years, and is encouraging all public library services
to understand the needs of their users better. Of course they
must have due regard for value for money. The Government is encouraging
close working between public and academic libraries across the
country through the "Framework for the Future" Action
Plan led by the MLA and its regional agencies in partnership with
SCONUL. For health research, on-line resources such as the National
electronic Library for Health have great potential to make the
contents of all journals more accessible. The People's Network
of computers in all public libraries, funded by the National Lottery,
has allowed access to the Internet for everyone in the country.
The UK Public also has some access to science, technology and
health research articles via academic libraries; the potential
significance of this facility should not be understated. Academic
libraries can provide a key means of public access to scholarly
material, and we understand that virtually all state universities
in the U.S. allow public walk-in access.
Currently public access via UK Academic Libraries
is not universally available. In a recent survey, 35% of the 84
academic libraries assessed restrict public access to their materials,
but a growing number of libraries are opening their doors to the
public offering significant additional resources to those in search
of scholarly information.
Some universities argue that their libraries are
already so heavily used by staff and students, to whom they have
to give priority, that the capacity is not there to let the general
public in too. There are
also a number of specific issues such
as collections that could attract high demand, that need to be
We have asked HEFCE to assemble an expert group and
advise Government on the best way to deliver this service and
the problems that will need to be resolved, including any licence
restrictions on access to journals by walk-in members of the public.
In addition, INSPIRE, a long-term project funded
by the DfES in cooperation with the DCMS, aims to ensure that
"any member of a public library can also access materials
held in HE libraries" by 2013. There is widespread Government
support for this initiative.
13.Digitisation should facilitate, not restrict
access. We recommend that the next national site licence negotiated
by the Joint Information Systems Committee explicitly provides
for all library users without an Athens password to access the
digital journals stocked by their library. (Paragraph 44)
The Government agrees that digitisation should facilitate
and not restrict access. The Government looks to the Higher Education
funding bodies, working through the JISC, to continue to pursue
licensing agreements (including national site licences) that open
up the widest body of material to the widest possible audience
(including use for teaching and access for the general public).
However, the JISC Model Licence already provides
for all library users, with or without an Athens password. The
licence refers to users in two categories, Authorised Users and
a) The licence defines "Authorised Users"
as the current members of the staff of the institution (whether
on a permanent, temporary, contract or visiting basis) and individuals
who are currently studying at the institution. Users in this category
are issued with individual Athens usernames and passwords. This
means that they can gain access to electronic resources via the
internet at any time and from any location; in other words they
do not need to be on library premises and are not limited to library
b) The licence also contains a definition of
"Walk-in Users", covering all other permitted users
of the library. The licence permits these users to access electronic
journals and other electronic resources from workstations on the
library premises. The Athens system is sufficiently flexible to
permit this without Walk-in Users needing to be issued with an
individual username or password.
Thus far from being more restrictive, Athens authentication
widens access to electronic resources for Authorised Users (who
represent by far the majority of the library's registered users),
while offering Walk-in Users exactly the same level of access
to electronic materials as they have to traditional print publications,
i.e. access on library premises. For these reasons the JISC always
urges publishers to comply with the Athens standard.
14. Publishers are to be commended for signing
up to laudable schemes such as HINARI, AGORA and INASP-PERI. We
hope that the provision of free and low- cost access to scientific
publications for institutions and researchers in developing countries
will continue to be a significant aspect of the way that they
conduct their businesses. (Paragraph 47)
The Government agrees that Publishers are to be commended
for championing and signing up to these schemes and encourages
Publishers to continue to develop these initiatives. publishers
were instrumental in co-launching these initiatives with WHO,
FAO and the Rockefeller Foundation. DFID has provided financial
support to AGORA to enable the technology to deliver the system
and is an active member of the partnership. DFID is exploring
the feasibility of providing support to both initiatives to build
capacity in developing countries to access these online systems
and evaluate their success to date. The publishers involved in
AGORA and HINARI continue to provide content free to the developing
The cost of supplying free or low-cost access to
institutions in developing countries is only possible because
there is no commercial market for the publications in the countries
concerned (hence the exclusion of China and India). These initiatives
only include access to digital copies of journals. As Internet
access may not be readily accessible in developing countries DFID
is considering working with publishers, the UN and other bilateral
donors to develop mechanisms that improve access in low bandwidth
environments and is working to improve the ICT infrastructure
and regulatory environments of developing countries. DFID is also
working with multilaterals and bilateral donors in this area to
improve and harmonise donor policy.
While arguably providing free and low cost publications
to researchers, the author-pays model would also need to ensure
that authors from the developing world continue to be able to
publish their articles.
DFID provides substantial funds to INASP-PERI programme
that purchase electronic scientific journals for developing country
use and builds capacity of developing countries to use this material.
In addition, publishers are very supportive of the initiative
and give discounted rates to PERI for the purchase of journals.
DFID is also funding GDNet, the Global Development Network, which
aims to improve the capacity of developing country scientists
to publish their research and SciDev.Net which provides access
to scientific material, some of which is provided freely by publishers.
15. The digitisation of journals has the potential
to greatly increase access to research findings for researchers
in the developing world. (Paragraph 48)
The Government welcomes the Committee's recommendation,
but suggests cost, IT infrastructure, human and institutional
capacity, and developing country policy and regulatory environments
should be considered in parallel as key to increased access.
16. We recommend that the Joint Information Systems
Committee develop an independent set of measures, agreed by subscribers
and publishers alike, to monitor trends in journal pricing. This
will help exert pressure on the publishing industry to self-regulate
more effectively and will give libraries and other users greater
knowledge when they are deciding which subscriptions to take.
Representative bodies such as SCONUL can play an
effective role in the debate over journal pricing. The newly-formed
Research Library Network will be particularly well placed to mediate
between the requirements of the research community, bodies undertaking
technical developments to enhance the procurement process and
the academic library community.
With regard to journal pricing, the situation is
complex, because of the number of models STM publishers employ
for subscriptions to their journals. The JISC is currently funding
two studies that will help clarify this situation:
i. The Analysis of Usage Statistics study: to
provide the JISC and its NESLi2 Negotiating Agent with accurate
data about the national use of electronic journals to inform future
study will analyse in depth usage data from a representative sample
of small, medium, large, and very large academic libraries to
ensure a full picture. The study will cover a minimum of 3 publishers
(and ideally 5) in order to provide sufficient comparative data
particularly for negotiating purposes.
ii. The Journals Business Models Study: to identify
the existing business models used by scholarly publishers in the
international market place and analyse the benefits and disadvantages
(including cost issues) to the library community. Models
to be analysed include: the big deal (which can be e only or electronic
plus print); individual title licences; e-versions of titles held
in print; subject clusters; core subscription plus pay per view;
and pay per view only. The study will also identify other business
models and analyse these in a similar way. This analysis will
explore amongst other things both usage based charging models
and open access initiatives.
The results of both these studies are due in December
2004. The Government has asked the JISC to undertake the responsibility
of monitoring trends in journal pricing, in collaboration with
other bodies such as SCONUL and RLN.
17. It is not for us to pronounce on the acceptability
of the profit margins secured by private sector companies. Nonetheless,
high publisher profit margins need to be set against the context
of faltering library budgets and an impending crisis in STM journals
provision. Cancelled journal subscriptions due to pressures on
library budgets will have a negative impact on publishers. It
is thus in everybody's interest for profit margins to be kept
at a reasonable and sustainable level. We urge publishers to act
on the recommendations of this Report to address these issues.
20. Increasing usage rates do not equate to an
increased ability for libraries to pay for journal bundles. The
recent availability of usage statistics should not be used as
a justification for publishers to raise their prices. (Paragraph
24. We do not doubt the central importance of
peer review to the STM publishing process. Nonetheless, we note
a tendency for publishers to inflate the cost to them of peer
review in order to justify charging high prices. This lack of
transparency about actual costs hampers informed debate about
scientific publishing. (Paragraph 76)
26. We are persuaded that the costs to publishers
associated with digitisation will reduce over time. Consequently,
we would no longer expect these costs to be used as a justification
for steep increases in prices. In the meantime we are concerned
that financially powerful STM publishers may be using their strength
during this digital transition period to make excessive profits
whilst the going is good. (Paragraph 79)
27. We believe that publishers should make it
clear to subscribers what services and costs are and are not covered
by the overall subscription price, enabling libraries and other
users to weigh up the costs and benefits of taking out the subscription.
We urge the Joint Information Systems Committee and other buying
bodies to press for greater transparency in this area. (Paragraph
28. Like the Office of Fair Trading, we are not
entirely convinced by the cost- justification argument employed
by publishers to explain rising prices. Publishers undoubtedly
add value to the scientific process, but they also profit from
it. (Paragraph 83)
32. Because library budgets generally have a fixed
ceiling, by increasing prices, the publisher with the largest
share of the budget can gain an even greater share and may also
force other publishers out of the budget altogether. (Paragraph
(17) (28) (32)
It is not a matter for Government to determine profit margins
for commercial companies or revenues for not for profit organisations,
but rather to focus on a competitive market place. Reasonable
profits are necessary to lead to a healthy level of investment
in e.g new technology and value added services. Journal pricing
should reflect the costs of production, including peer review,
editorial issues, marketing and administration, infrastructure
and the level of demand. If there is evidence that financially
powerful STM publishers are using their strength to increase prices
or make excessive profits, then that would be a matter for investigation
by the OFT.
The Government is not convinced that there is an
impending crisis in journal provision within the HE sector. Some
in the sector have queried whether the general increase in journal
prices over recent years is justifiable and sustainable; but the
sector's aggregate spending on journal subscriptions continues
to be only a small proportion of their total research costs and
the total spend on journals only equates to 1% of HEFCE funding.
The government has not seen evidence to suggest that access for
researchers to journals and other research information is becoming
more difficult. If anything, the reverse seems to be the case
as increasing amounts of material become accessible from the researcher's
desktop. According to figures produced by the Publishers Association,
there is an increasing number of downloads from UK based publishers.
These downloads are estimated to be 250-300million in 2002, 500-600million
in 2003 with a projected volume for 2004 of 1 billion.
(20) (27) The Government
believes it is important that libraries are adequately funded
and this is a matter for the relevant institutional authorities.
The ultimate choice on how that funding is spent should be left
to the libraries, who are best placed to know the requirements
of their users. Bundling deals are a way of increasing value for
the customer although libraries are under no obligation to purchase
There are a range of packages and pricing plans that
libraries can take advantage of from both commercial and non-commercial
publishers. ALPSP for example have recently launched their own
bundled collection of journals, and have been met with a positive
library response with 30 licences so far agreed.
Further savings can be made from libraries forming
consortia and therefore enhancing their purchasing power. A report
in August 2004 by the Primary Research Group estimated that savings
of about 30%, could be made off the actual price generally negotiated
with single libraries.
With the advent of electronic journals, libraries
have the opportunity to obtain robust quantitative data about
levels of periodical use and to analyse how far their investment
represents good value for money. Good analysis of such data could
be a powerful tool in future negotiations with publishers when
deals are to be renewed, and could help to inform thinking about
viable economic models for electronic journals. However, in-depth
analysis of this data is time consuming for individual libraries
and may not be cost effective in the absence of useful benchmarks.
A national overview is required to help inform future JISC negotiations
on behalf of the community and assist institutions in assessing
the value for money provided for such deals. It might also inform
their purchasing decisions with respect to deals not currently
covered by NESLi2 but of high importance to them. Thus, the JISC
has funded an analysis of usage statistics and is due to report
at the end of 2004.
(24) The Government agrees
that cost transparency will help the academic world to understand
the pricing regime and the products they are receiving. It would
be in everybody's interest for contracts to be as transparent
and unambiguous as possible, within the confines of commercial
confidentiality. The Government would support greater clarity
and has asked the JISC to discuss this further with the publishing
(26) Digital-only delivery
has the potential to reduce publishing costs, but these reductions
can't fully take place while the demand for paper copies remains.
Within the STM sector there is still a demand for a mixed model
of print and electronic publications. Potential savings within
the publishing process can only be fully achieved when print runs
are no longer required. However it has to be recognised that investment
in digital delivery is not a once only cost and requires significant
continuous investment in technology and customer support.
19. We recommend that the Joint Information Systems
Committee ensure that provision for continuing access in the event
of cancellation to articles published during the subscription
period is written into its next national licensing deal. (Paragraph
The JISC model licence already provides for this.
The clause in the licence means that on cancellation the publisher
will provide the subscribing institution with a copy of the relevant
journals on CD-ROM or provide access via their own server. The
clause also provides for a "third party" to provide
an archive of the material, although no such third party is yet
in place to provide this service in the UK. It is always the JISC
policy to negotiate for archival access.
The cost of maintaining internet access to content
is very high. It is understandable that publishers are reluctant
to freely provide this content to non-paying customers.
21. Although libraries may aspire to provide access
to every scientific journal, they cannot afford to do this. It
is inevitable that difficult choices between a number of journals
with lower usage rates and impact factors will have to be made.
Nonetheless, these decisions should be made in response to local
user needs rather than as a side effect of bundling. (Paragraph
The Government agrees that libraries need to ensure
that local needs are satisfied as far as is reasonably possible,
particularly in any bundling deal. The model provided by the JISC,
and the advice of bodies such as SCONUL can play a valuable role
in providing advice, as can the Research Library Network at a
23. Publishers should publicly acknowledge the
contribution of unpaid peer reviewers to the publishing process.
We recommend that they provide modest financial rewards to the
departments in which the reviewers are based. These rewards could
be fed back into the system, helping to fund seminars or further
research. (Paragraph 70)
The Government's understanding is that many disciplines
do explicitly recognise the role played by named peer reviewers,
whilst in other disciplines peer reviewers remain anonymous. Nevertheless,
it is widely recognised that peer reviewers are a vital component
of the publishing process. Acting as peer reviewers and as members
of editorial boards is also an important element in career recognition
for researchers. Financial rewards to the departments in which
the reviewers are based is however a commercial decision for publishers
and would need to apply to all business models. The Government
is not aware of any significant demand from peer reviewers or
the academic community to provide such rewards.
Any business model must preserve the integrity of
peer review, and payment to departments could potentially lead
to a conflict of interest between reviewer and publisher. There
are also the potential consequences on economically marginal publishers,
and major publications with a high rejection rate, where an additional
cost would be incurred for all peer-reviewed articles, regardless
of whether or not they are published. We are not persuaded that
the increase in publishing costs that result from such a measure
would be sensible at this stage. We are also concerned about the
effort of administering such a payment system.
At a time of considerable financial pressure on library
budgets it is questionable whether this is the right time to raise
publishing costs, especially bearing in mind that a substantial
number of journals are published by not for profit publishers.
25. We applaud the development by publishers of
new technologies for digital journals. Innovative products such
as ScienceDirect have brought increased functionality to researchers
and users, making journals a more valuable research tool. (Paragraph
42. Elsevier is no sudden convert to Open Access.
The company has seen the direction of trends in publishing and
has acted accordingly to minimise criticism of its current policies.
We are in little doubt that Elsevier timed the announcement of
its new policy on self-archiving to pre-empt the publication of
this Report. It is good news that our inquiry has prompted such
a high profile endorsement of increased access to research papers.
Nonetheless, there are a number of serious constraints to self-
archiving in the model proposed by Elsevier. (Paragraph 112)
57. We recommend that DTI works with UK publishers
to establish how the industry might evolve in an environment where
other business models flourished alongside the subscriber-pays
model. Government also needs to become an intelligent procurer,
outsourcing some of the technical work involved in establishing
and maintaining institutional repositories to publishers who already
have the relevant infrastructure and expertise in place. (Paragraph
(25) The Government also
applauds the developments in new technologies and the considerable
investment that has been made to provide the technology infrastructure
to support these advances. It is only through the profits generated
from current products that publishers and learned societies can
afford to develop new technologies that will benefit the whole
of the academic community. The Government will continue to encourage
the publishing community to develop their products to meet the
needs of the academic community.
(42) Elsevier is one of
a number of companies who have been reviewing their services offered
to the research community, as a result of which they have included
self-archiving in their business model. There are some constraints
on the Elsevier model such as only allowing publication of a text
version and a ban on authors posting articles on "central
databases", but these seem reasonable in the light of the
value-add which subscribers pay to have. This is a welcome step
forward, but many commercial and non-commercial publishers have
been allowing self-archiving for many years. This is shown by
the research of Stevan Harnad of Southampton University, which
estimated that 80% (Currently 91%) of journals allow the published
articles to be made available as a post print version on an author's
own website or Institutional Repositories.
(57) The Government through
the DTI is already working with Publishers, both commercial and
not for profit, and their Trade Associations, to help improve
productivity and competitiveness in the sector. The Government
believes that a healthy and competitive publishing industry has
already led to the development of innovative and creative business
models and will continue to do so. The recent "Open Choice"
offering from Springer, whereby authors can choose author-pays/open
access, or the traditional subscription model, demonstrates publishing
industry innovation leading, as the Select Committee recommendation
hoped, to other business models existing alongside subscriber-pays.
The Government is happy to work with all elements
of the community, whether publishers, funding bodies or academics,
to promote an understanding of each other's needs. There are already
a number of existing forums where this occurs. A new forum involving
publishers, funders and librarians, set up and facilitated by
the DTI, will have its first meeting in the Autumn.
Overall, as discussed in our response to recommendation
1, the Government's approach is to facilitate a level playing
field. This includes working with RCUK on a common policy that
allows scientists to publish through an author-pays journal where
appropriate. The level playing field option is the most appropriate
to encourage competition and innovation in publishing, to promote
greater accessibility, to maintain quality and to retain freedom
of choice for authors. This approach does not favour one part
of the value chain at the expense of another and is in the long-term
interests of a sustainable scientific publications market.
Institutional repository issues are covered in responses
to recommendations 43,44,48,52, 54-56 and 58, below.
29. It is not enough for the Government departments
involved to declare themselves to be aware of the problems surrounding
the imposition of VAT on digital, but not print, publications.
As the issue is so critical to the adequate provision of scientific
publications and to reaping the full anticipated benefits from
digitisation, we recommend that DTI, DfES and DCMS all make a
strong case to HM Customs and Excise for a change to the existing
VAT regime. (Paragraph 86)
30. We recommend that HM Customs and Excise make
strong and immediate representations within the European Commission
to bring about the introduction of a zero rate VAT relief for
digital journals, in line with the zero rate currently charged
on print journals. (Paragraph 88)
31. We recommend that HM Customs and Excise exempt
libraries from the VAT currently payable on digital publications
whilst it negotiates for a more permanent solution within the
EU. (Paragraph 89)
The DTI, DCMS and Customs and Excise have discussed the VAT treatment
of digital publications on a number of occasions. Customs are
aware of the concerns expressed in submissions to the Select Committee's
inquiry. However, the removal of VAT on digital publications is
not possible. Under long standing European agreements the UK can
retain its existing zero rates but cannot extend them or introduce
any new ones. This is the case for all Member States that retain
VAT zero rate derogations. There is no realistic prospect of the
Commission proposing, or all other Member States agreeing to,
any change in that position.
The only way to equalise the VAT treatment of print
and digital publications would be to levy VAT on printed publications.
The Government is committed to retaining the zero rate of VAT
on books and newspapers.
The EU list of permitted VAT reduced rates (Annex
H of the Sixth VAT Directive) does not include digital publications.
A review of the reduced rate provisions is currently underway,
but the prospects for significant agreed change presently remain
remote and the Government is not persuaded of the case for the
inclusion of digital publications on the list. Whereas printed
matter is clearly well defined, e-publications are closely related
to a wide range of material that is capable of being downloaded,
including films, music and software. The current rules for determining
in which Member State VAT is due on digital publications, and
their mode of delivery also makes them inappropriate for inclusion
in the list of permitted reduced rates. This is because the VAT
is paid to the Member State where the publisher is legally established
rather than where they are purchased.
(31) It is not possible,
under long-standing agreements with our European partners to exempt
or zero-rate supplies of digital publications to libraries. Libraries
are liable to pay VAT on many goods and services that they purchase
in the same way as any other purchaser. The normal VAT rules do,
however, allow institutions that are undertaking taxable business
activities to recover the VAT they incur. In addition, local
authorities are refunded the VAT incurred on goods and services
(including digital publications) purchased in connection with
their statutory public duties, including the provision of public
library services. This refund scheme is achieved by section 33
of the VAT Act 1994, and is designed to ensure that VAT does not
become a cost borne by local taxation.
Where VAT is not recoverable under section 33 or
the normal VAT rules, it is established practice that publicly
funded institutions should reflect this irrecoverable VAT in their
bids for funding.
33. We recommend that the Government Response
to this Report provides information on the measures being taken
by the Office of Fair Trading to monitor the market for STM journals.
We urge the Office of Fair Trading to commit to biennial public
reporting on the state of the market, including how STM publication
prices are developing; how prices change following mergers and
acquisitions in the sector and the impact of bundling deals upon
competition. (Paragraph 94)
As an independent, statutory organisation, the OFT
have submitted a detailed response on this question.
34. We agree that universities should be able
to allocate their budgets locally in response to the needs of
their teaching and research communities. (Paragraph 96)
Universities have a freedom to allocate budgets as
they see fit. HEIs are autonomous bodies drawing their income
from a range of sources although for most the Government is still
the majority funder. This money comes through a mix of block grant
and project grants from several agencies and it is for the institutions
to determine their individual strategies and priorities.
35. It is unacceptable that HEFCE has shown so
little interest in library budgets. We recommend that it commission
a study from HEPI to ascertain both current library funding levels
and library funding needs. The results of this study could be
used to inform the allocation of the block grant. (Paragraph 97)
We have been advised by HEFCE that they do not see
the need to commission a study from HEPI at this time as they
are provided with information on funding levels through HESA and
SCONUL. As previously discussed, HEIs are autonomous bodies and
their total spend on library budgets is actually a small proportion
of their overall budgets.
36. HEFCE has a valuable role to play in advising
universities on library funding requirements. We recommend that
HEFCE establish a code of good practice for library funding that
universities can draw upon when allocating their budgets. (Paragraph
We have also been advised by HEFCE that they consider
that good practice advice is generally best provided by competent
sector bodies. HEFCE will invite Universities UK to consider whether
such advice is needed, and if so request them to take the lead
in establishing such advice, possibly in collaboration with SCONUL.
37. Pressure on library journal acquisitions budgets
has resulted in cancelled subscriptions and has contributed to
a decline in book purchasing. This compromises the library's ability
to provide the full range of services required by its user community.
38. There is undoubtedly some scope for libraries
to make efficiency savings, as there is for most organisations.
Nonetheless, the valuable services provided by the library are
expensive and staff-intensive. It is unlikely that libraries will
have more to spend on acquisitions until they see an increase
in budgets. (Paragraph 101)
39. Whilst we accept that it is important that
libraries are responsive to local needs, opting out of national
licensing deals negotiated with those needs in mind only makes
the situation faced by libraries worse. (Paragraph 104)
We note the Committee's comments in recommendations
37 and 39.
(38) As with all organisations,
libraries are undergoing a period of change and organisations
such as SCONUL can provide important advice. In terms of library
budgets, as discussed, it is for individual universities to decide
for themselves about how to allocate their block grant.
40. We recommend that the Joint Information Systems
Committee negotiate with libraries, regional purchasing consortia
and other national bodies responsible for procurement to agree
a common strategy. Only by combining their resources will they
be able to negotiate a licensing deal that secures national support
and brings real benefits. (Paragraph 105)
The Government agrees with this recommendation and
will encourage opportunities to improve the efficiency of library
procurement, including NESLi2 and the regional purchasing consortia
working more closely together. Ultimately, any such opportunities
would be best negotiated by bodies such as the JISC. The JISC
also intends to liaise with international journal procurement
bodies and regional purchasing consortia to explore collaborative
41. It is disappointing that many academics are
content to ignore the significant difficulties faced by libraries.
Until they start to see the provision of journals as, in part,
their problem, the situation will not improve. (Paragraph 107)
The Government agrees that academics themselves have
an important role to play in this debate and need to become more
involved. Currently, anecdotal evidence suggests that most academics
are either unaware of the debate, or have no strong opinion. Bodies
such as the Research Library Network can play an important role
in stimulating debate, as can RCUK.
43. Institutions need an incentive to set up repositories.
We recommend that the requirement for universities to disseminate
their research as widely as possible be written into their charters.
In addition, SHERPA should be funded by DfES to allow it to make
grants available to all research institutions for the establishment
and maintenance of repositories. (Paragraph 115)
44. Academic authors currently lack sufficient
motivation to self-archive in institutional repositories. We recommend
that the Research Councils and other Government funders mandate
their funded researchers to deposit a copy of all their articles
in their institution's repository within one month of publication
or a reasonable period to be agreed following publication, as
a condition of their research grant. An exception would need to
be made for research findings that are deemed to be commercially
sensitive. (Paragraph 117)
48. In order for institutional repositories to
achieve maximum effectiveness, Government must adopt a joined-up
approach. DTI, OST, DfES and DCMS should work together to create
a strategy for the implementation of institutional repositories,
with clearly defined aims and a realistic timetable. (Paragraph
52. The cost to the taxpayer of establishing and
maintaining an infrastructure of institutional repositories across
UK higher education would be minimal, particularly in proportion
to the current total UK higher education spend. When the cost
is weighed against the benefits they would bring, institutional
repositories plainly represent value for money. (Paragraph 130)
54. Peer review is a key element in the publishing
process and should be a pillar of institutional repositories.
We recommend that SHERPA agree a "kite mark" with publishers
that can be used to denote articles that have been published in
a peer-reviewed journal. Upon publication, articles in repositories
should be allocated the kitemark and marked with the date and
journal of publication by the staff member responsible for populating
the repository. Authors depositing articles in institutional repositories
should also be required to declare their funding sources in order
to reduce the risk of conflicts of interest occurring. (Paragraph
55. We recommend that the Government appoints
and funds a central body, based on SHERPA, to co-ordinate the
implementation of a network of institutional repositories. (Paragraph
56. A Government-established central body would
play a major role in implementing technical standards across institutional
repositories to ensure maximum functionality and interoperability.
58. We see institutional repositories as operating
alongside the publishing industry. In the immediate term they
will enable readers to gain free access to journal articles whilst
the publishing industry experiments with new publishing models,
such as the author-pays model. (Paragraph 143)
(43) (52), (55), (56) (58)
The Government recognises the potential benefits of institutional
repositories and sees them as a significant development worthy
of encouragement. But it believes that each Institution has to
make its own decision about institutional repositories depending
on individual circumstances. However, an increasing number of
universities are already establishing such repositories to enable
greater access to their research output. The Government welcomes
this development and initiatives where groups of universities
collaborate to disseminate and develop more effective searching
and improve inter-operability across institutional boundaries.
According to the 2004 PALS report there are over
200 Institutional Repositories in the world, mainly populated
with unpublished material.
institutional repositories have an important role to play with
regard to access to information and institutional communication,
but there are a number of issues that need to be resolved:
is still considerable uncertainty about the cost of setting up
institutional repositories. There are a number of possible models,
some of which have already been piloted, including through a JISC
initiative. HEFCE tell us that they do not yet have adequate information
on their coststhere will inevitably be additional costs
for example on technical support and administrationor a
sufficient assessment of the merits of each model, to reach a
firm decision to support one or more through a national scheme.
Government believe there is more work to be done on some key technical
elements in particular, to develop dedicated search engines to
help researchers to find material in them, and to secure national
(or even international) agreement on a raft of technical standards
for presenting, indexing and cataloguing their contents.
already allow pre-prints and post prints to be deposited in an
institutional repository. The RoMEO Directory of Publishers currently
estimates that 66% of publishers already allow articles to be
published as a pre-print and post print version on an authors
own website or institutional repository.
Qualityit is important
that institutional repositories and academic journals (both commercial
and not for profit) are able to co-exist. Journals provide the
assurance of quality, underpinned by rigorous peer review, which
is essential information for users when accessing articles in
The JISC has provided support to universities and
colleges for the creation of repositories through the FAIR programme,
and projects funded under this programme (including SHERPA)
are already committed to making their experience of repository
development available to all UK universities and colleges.
The JISC is actively pursuing ways in which institutional
repositories can be developed further and plans to support universities
in providing best practice; software; models and infrastructure
to support institutional repositories that hold research outputs.
In leading the technical work on institutional repositories, the
JISC will continue to work closely with all available sources
of expertise and much of the development work it funds is already
put out to tender, to utilise expertise in the private sector.
The JISC has also funded a project called ROMEO as
part of its FAIR programme which explored intellectual property
rights associated with self-archiving. The work is being followed
up further, through the development of a copyright toolkit for
publishing agreements and a model author/HEI licence for institutional
Responsibility for the amendment of university charters
(where they exist) lies with individual institutions, with the
approval of Her Majesty The Queen and not with the Government.
(44) Institutional and
thematic repositories can play a significant role in the dissemination
of research outputs. However the Government has no present intention
to mandate Research Council funded researchers to deposit a copy
of their published material in institutional repositories.
One of the key questions being considered in formulating
a RCUK policy framework, on the dissemination and preservation
of the information outputs of research, relates to the respective
roles of institutional and thematic repositories (which is referred
to in the response to recommendation 7). RCUK are consulting with
all the important groups of stakeholders as part of this policy
formulation, not least with SHERPA, the JISC and others with a
strong interest and expertise in the development of institutional
The Government notes with interest the valuable work
that SHERPA is carrying out to network institutional archives.
We are aware of the technical developments, particularly in interoperability
between repositories (through the use of the OAI-PMH software
protocol) that are easing global accessibility to repository contents,
irrespective of where these are stored. At the same time, we note
the challenge of ensuring the necessary and consistent standards,
not least in the harvesting of appropriate metadata.
(54) With regard to a
kite-marking, the Government believes the assurance of quality
is provided through publication in peer-reviewed commercial or
not for profit journals, and does not in general see the need
for an additional system. For clinical research, the UK has a
leading position internationally as a funder of systematic reviews
of research evidence. These approaches will be kept under review
as institutional repositories develop.
(48) The Government agrees
that a joined up approach is necessary for an issue such as institutional
repositories. DTI, OST, DCMS, and DfES are actively working with
bodies such as RCUK, the JISC, HEFCE and the British Library to
determine a common approach. The Government also understands the
role that repositories could play to link research outputs with
learning and teaching resources. The JISC play a key role in defining
standards for the provision, storage and use of digital information
within the academic sector and one of the main focus of its repository
activity is to provide specifications and functional requirements
for repositories at a local, regional, national and international
level and for wide ranging resources. Part of this activity will
be taken forward in the JISC Digital Repositories Programme from
January 2005. The British Library clearly have strong interest
in developing models of scholarly communication, and therefore
we would also expect the Library to be at the centre of this debate.
For health research, the Department of Health and the MRC will
consider these issues together with other stakeholders in the
UK Clinical Research Collaboration.
45. We recommend that institutional repositories
are able to accept charitablyand privately-funded research
articles from authors within the institution, providing that the
funder has given their consent for the author to self-archive
in this way. (Paragraph 118)
47. Institutional repositories should accept for
archiving articles based on negative results, even when publication
of the article in a journal is unlikely. This accumulated body
of material would be a useful resource for the scientific community.
It could help to prevent duplication of research and, particularly
in the field of clinical research, would be in the public interest.
Articles containing negative findings should be stored within
a dedicated section of the repository to distinguish them from
other articles. (Paragraph 118)
The Government accepts these recommendations in principle.
We note that the value of institutional repositories
will depend critically upon the comprehensiveness of their collections,
including both published and unpublished material from research,
whatever the source of funding. In fields such as clinical research,
comprehensive access to research outputs, including negative findings,
is particularly important because "publication bias"
can create a false impression of the balance of evidence about
a treatment. In these fields, the Government is strongly in favour
of agreements to widen access to unpublished findings, including
international understandings about standards for repositories,
databases and registers. In addition it is indispensable that
a clear distinction must be made between those articles which
have been published after rigorous peer review, and those that
46. We recommend that DCMS provide adequate funds
for the British Library to establish and maintain a central online
repository for all UK research articles that are not housed in
other institutional repositories. (Paragraph 118)
The British Library's bid for funding from the 2004
Spending Review is being considered by DCMS, and an announcement
of allocations will be made in Autumn 2004.
The British Library is the main repository of the
UK's published output, and the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003
(the 2003 Act) provides the framework that will enable it to establish
a repository of non-print material. Exactly what non-print material
is deposited and how this will be done will be the subject of
regulations in the future. The Legal Deposit Advisory Panel (when
instituted) will make recommendations to the Secretary of State
for Culture, Media and Sport on the timing and content of regulations
relating to legal deposit.
However, the 2003 Act does not allow for open access
to legally deposited material. Section 7 of the 2003 Act places
restrictions on the activities in relation to non-print publications,
including the use, copying, adapting, lending, transferring and
disposing of material. In addition, under the 2003 Act the Secretary
of State may only make regulations permitting "relevant persons"
to carry out these activities, where a "relevant person"
means the deposit library itself, or a reader on the library's
49. A greater degree of consistency is desirable
in copyright agreements, from publishers, but also from Government,
institutions and academics, who have the power to influence the
terms on which copyright agreements are established. (Paragraph
50. The issue of copyright is crucial to the success
of self-archiving. We recommend that, as part of its strategy
for the implementation of institutional repositories, Government
ascertain what impact a UK-based policy of author copyright retention
would have on UK authors. Providing that it can be established
that such a policy would not have a disproportionately negative
impact, Research Councils and other Government funders should
mandate their funded researchers to retain the copyright on their
research articles, licensing it to publishers for the purposes
of publication. The Government would also need to be active in
raising the issue of copyright at an international level. (Paragraph
51. We recommend that higher education institutions
are funded to enable them to assume control of copyright arising
from their research. In order to carry out this function they
will need in-house expertise and dedicated staff. (Paragraph 147)
In the Government's view, flexible copyright arrangements
are part of the competitiveness basis on which publishers market
their journals. Publishers, both commercial and not for profit,
use flexible copyright arrangements to compete for the services
of authors. Model licences are available through Trade Associations
representing the STM sector, including the Association of Learned
and Professional Society Publishers representing the not for profit
sector, and the Publishers Association representing commercial
It is important that authors' work is protected from
plagiarism and any move to assign control of copyright to institutions
will need to take into account how an institution will monitor
and address plagiarism issues. Institutions will have an additional
administrative burden to protect the rights of authors. There
is also the issue of legal liability on institutional repositories
if material is found to be libellous, fraudulent or defamatory.
Mechanisms will have to be introduced to allow them to deal with
RCUK are looking at this issue as part of their wider
consideration, for example, whether it is right and appropriate
for copyright to be retained by Research Council-funded authors,
and for the copyright agreement to incorporate a licence to use
by the publisher. The Government will consider the advice once
it is formulated.
The JISC are also doing valuable work in this area.
The JISC funded ROMEO project has received international recognition
for its work on documenting authors' agreements and permissions
for institutional archiving across a range of leading publishers.
The JISC also funds a Legal Information Service and has commissioned
several reports on copyright. The JISC is about to embark on the
production of best practice and development of infrastructure
to support copyright practices within the scholarly communication
process with particular attention to author, publisher and academic
institution relationships. This work should report within the
A statement of practices and principles relating
to the publication of primary research supported by public funding
within a learned journal, was jointly drafted by the Trade Associations
covering both the commercial and non-commercial publishers. This
was forwarded to Lord Sainsbury on 27 July 2004 and is attached
at Annex B to this submission. The Government welcomes such efforts
by publishers to identify a consistent approach to copyright agreements.
59. For the Government either to endorse or dismiss
the new publishing model would be too simplistic. Without any
Government action, some authors are already choosing to publish
in journals that use author payments to recover costs. Author-pays
publishing is a phenomenon that has already arrived: it is for
the Government and others to decide how best to respond. (Paragraph
Scientific publishing models are continually innovating,
as can be seen in the move to digital publishing or in the development
of the site licence. Models will continue to evolve, with different
approaches co-existing and the Government does not believe that
it makes sense to categorise certain business models only as "new".
It is not up to the Government to prescribe any particular
publishing models but we will aim to ensure that no institutional
barriers are put in the way of any particular publishing models
Our preferred approach is to facilitate a level playing
field, which will enable authors who wish to publish in author-pays
journals to do so. The Government will monitor the progress towards
this level playing field. However, at this point we are not convinced
that the author-pays model is economic. Before fully supporting
any new business model, the Government will need to be convinced
that this model is better and cheaper.
A successful and sustainable scientific publications
market is vital to the research process, and to strongly endorse
or reject the author-pays approach would not be in the interests
of allowing the market itself to evolve to meet the needs of authors.
The Government's concern is to optimise the availability of quality
research information to the scientific community, maintained and
continually approved in a sustainable and efficient way.
60. The evidence produced so far suggests that
the author-pays model could be viable. We recommend that Government
mobilise the different interest groups to support a comprehensive
independent study into the costs associated with author-pays publishing.
The study could be used to inform Government policy and strategy.
In the Government's view it is too early to make
judgements about the viability of the author-pays model. There
are already a number of author-pays journals but we note that
in many cases, the costs of Open Access publishing models are
still not clear. The estimated cost of producing an article can
vary as much as £300-£2500, taking into account a number
of factors including the number of articles rejected. These figures
are likely to change as the market develops. It is also the case
that most current Open Access initiatives are subsidised by charitable
institutions. The true cost of any STM publication needs to include
investment, peer group evaluation, formatting, linking, profiling
and archiving of information.
The Government is aware of the research being undertaken
by the JISC who have commissioned a study to identify and analyse
different Business Models for journal content and of a study by
SIPPI, in cooperation with ALPSP to investigate different open
access publishing models.,
Both of these reports are due to be completed by the end of the
year. In addition the Government has noted the recent studies
funded by the Wellcome Trust on author-pays publishing.
The Government has considered the possibility of
commissioning its own study on the costs of author-pays publishing,
however it is not considered that any new information would come
to light at this time. This is because the key area of uncertainty
is the extent to which the true costs of STM publications are
reflected in current models. As the market evolves it will become
clear how the business models and costs are also evolving and
a suitable study may be required at that time.
61. Encouraging a public that is more scientifically
literate and assisting women in their pursuit of successful careers
in scientific research have been two of the Committee's longstanding
concerns. We support, in principle, any measure that seeks to
further these aims. (Paragraph 156)
The Government agrees with the Committee that public
engagement with science is a key issue. This is reflected in our
Science and Innovation Framework 2004-2014, which sets out our
priorities in this area.
However, there are a number of more targeted ways
in which measures can be put in place to assist women in science.
For example, OST is making available £500,000 each year for
the next three years for the development of a dedicated Women's
Returners Package. This is being developed alongside the new Resource
Centre for Women in Science Engineering and Technology (SET).
The issues of finding ways in which women can be kept in touch
with developments in their fields of SET whilst taking a career
break are being actively explored through this package.
62. Although early indications are positive, it
is too early to assess the impact that author-pays publishing
has had on access to scientific publications. (Paragraph 159).
The Government agrees with the Committee that it
is too early to assess the impact of author pays on access.
Ultimately, it will be the research communities themselves
who will determine any future impact of author-pays publishing
and the Government should not adopt a stance which either strongly
encourages or discourages author choice.
63. The author-pays publishing model would be
extremely advantageous to researchers in developing countries,
enabling them to keep abreast of research conducted elsewhere.
Financially, author charges would be less burdensome to researchers
in the developing world than current subscription rates. If the
author-pays model were to prevail, publishers, Government agencies
and other donors would need to adapt existing schemes, such as
HINARI, AGORA and INASP-PERI, to meet the demands of the altered
cost recovery model. (Paragraph 162).
As stated in the answer to recommendation 73, the
author-pays model is still at an early stage of development and
the implications of the author-pays model for developing countries
is still not clear. HINARI and AGORA currently depend on
the goodwill of publishers and are not reliant on funds provided
by donors. There are wider discussions around international information
standards and norms, including the development of Open Source
systems, and the role of the UN, which would need to be considered
if an author-pays model were to prevail. Donor-funded models such
as INASP-PERI would need to be reviewed, and should in any case
be reviewed in the light of publishers making journals available
freely to developing countries.
64. We recommend that the Research Councils each
establish a fund to which their funded researchers can apply should
they wish to publish their articles using the author-pays model.
The Research Councils will need to be funded by OST to take account
of this increase in costs. We hope that industry, charity and
other Government funders will consider similar measures. (Paragraph
At present, the Government is not persuaded of the
need to set up such a fund. Research Councils currently tend to
treat author charges in the same way as page or reprint charges,
i.e. as consumables met under direct costs. The exception to this
approach is the MRC, which specifically recognises author charges
as an indirect cost. The Government would be willing to consider
applying this approach more widely to health research in concert
with other research funders. As part of the development of the
RCUK policy framework on the dissemination and preservation of
the information outputs of research and in the context of the
change to full economic costing of research projects, RCUK is
now looking at how it might define, across all the Research Councils,
a common approach that explicitly recognises the need to
meet author charges, where this is deemed to be justifiable and
cost-effective (see the response to Recommendation 8). The Government
65. Research Councils for disciplines that require
only limited funding should be funded to enable them to pay for
publication costs where necessary. (Paragraph 166)
The Government welcomes the Committee's recognition
that the change to new models of publication will have different
levels of impact on the finances of different Research Councils.
We acknowledge that this will need to be taken into account in
the current and future exercises to allocate funds across the
66. In order to succeed, most author-pays publishers,
like everyone else, will have to publish articles of a high quality.
It is not, therefore, within the interest of journals at the higher
end of the market to lessen the rigour of peer review. Nonetheless,
there is a risk that lower quality journals might seek to reduce
their quality threshold in order to generate profit. Were the
author-pays publishing model to prevail it would be vital to ensure
that peer review was not compromised in order to retain confidence
in the integrity of the publishing process. (Paragraph 172)
82. As is the case with any process, peer review
is not an infallible system and to a large extent depends on the
integrity and competence of the people involved and the degree
of editorial oversight and quality assurance of the peer review
process itself. Nonetheless we are satisfied that publishers are
taking reasonable measures to main high standards of peer review.
We strongly agree with the Committee's comments on
the importance of peer review. As outlined in our response to
recommendations 43, 44, 48, 52, 54-56 and 58, institutional repositories
and journals need to run in parallel to ensure that rigorous peer
review of research findings is not compromised.
Peer review is crucial for quality control,
whether in print format or in an electronic journal, and whether
using the author-pays or subscription approach. It is imperative
that the quality of research articles is maintained and not compromised
by financial considerations, or hasty changes to business models.
The leading journals have significant rejection rates and it is
this that drives up the quality of the articles. In institutional
or thematic repositories it will be important that there is an
absolutely clear distinction between articles that have not yet
been peer-reviewed (pre-prints) and those that have (post-prints)
and also between different pre-print versions.
67. The introduction of a submission fee would
be an important step towards ensuring the quality of scientific
publications and we strongly recommend that author-pays publishers
introduce this system. (Paragraph 174)
Payment for submissions is a commercial decision
for publishers. There is however considerable doubt about the
impact of paying for the submission of papers and how this may
impact on the number of papers submitted. Nor is it clear how
such a submission fee would operate in practice. Within a scientific
discipline there may be a number of different potential publishers
for a journal article. If submission fees were required each time
an article were submitted, then this could imply substantial fees
on authors submitting to journals particularly with a high rejection
rate, and could conceivably be a key driver in deciding which
journal to publish in.
68. The commercial and industrial sectors currently
contribute significant funds to the publishing process through
payments for journal subscriptions. Much of this money would be
lost to the system if an author-pays model were to prevail. This
is one of the key issues that needs to be addressed before the
wholescale transition to an author-pays model can be supported.
Government, publishers and industry need to work together to identify
a solution to this problem in order to avoid a disproportionate
increase in the amount of money that Government invests directly
or indirectly in the publishing process. (Paragraph 177)
71. Author-pays publishing is a growing phenomenon.
Its implementation on any scale will have important consequences
for current funding structures and the UK publishing industry.
So far the Government has shown little inclination to address
this issue. (Paragraph 185)
73. We are satisfied that, by scaling publication
with research costs, the author-pays publishing model would ensure
a fairer global distribution of the costs of publishing research
findings. (Paragraph 188)
74. The UK would put itself at a financial disadvantage
internationally if it were to act alone in mandating publicly-funded
researchers to publish in author-pays journals. (Paragraph 189)
(68) The Government agrees
that the loss of private sector subscriptions would be significant.
This would impact both on commercial publishers and learned societies.
The problem of losing significant funds from the commercial and
industrial sectors is a consequence of the author-pays model.
There is no easy solution to this.
(71) It is not currently
evident that author-pays publishing is a growing phenomenon. According
to figures reported to us from Ulrich's Periodicals Directory,
of 89 new journals launched so far in 2004, only 11 of these are
Open Access journals.
This compares to 30 Open Access Journals that were launched during
the whole of 2003. Ulrich's also shows that the percentage of
Open Access journals launched, compared to all journals launched
has actually decreased since 2001. In 2001, there were 63 new
Open Access journals launched out of 308 journals (20.5%), 2002,
47 out of 255 journals (18.4%) and 2003, 30 out of 198 (15.2%).
The current percentage for 2004 is 12.4%. Stevan Harnad of Southampton
University has estimated that author pays accounts for less than
1% of all STM articles published.
(73) The author-pays model
is still at an early stage of development, however, under such
a model it is likely that the UK would end up paying more being
a net exporter of scientific information. As the subscription
model and the author-pays model will continue to co-exist, no
single solution would be able to deal with the problems of access
to and publication of articles from the developing world. It would
be important that scientists from developing countries are not
excluded from publishing their material by cost, or from having
access to published scientific journals.
For the foreseeable future it is likely that whichever
model is adopted, special arrangements, such as HINARI, AGORA
and INASP-PERI will need to be made available for the developing
world. (See also the response to recommendation 14.) If the author-pays
model grows, then this may require changes to current funding
structures. The Government will be monitoring the situation, and
will address any funding issues at the appropriate time should
the need arise.
(74) The Government strongly
agrees with the Committee's comments on not putting the UK at
a financial disadvantage internationally. Publishing is an international
business. The majority of revenue from STM publishing, comes from
exports rather than UK sales, resulting in global subscription
revenue of £750 million. For example, The Royal Society of
Chemistry receives approximately 90% of its revenue from exports,
which is then funnelled back into the UK through its work training
teachers, making the RSC the 2nd largest provider of
training for teachers in the UK (after the Government). The Government
would want to avoid placing the UK at a disadvantage in a global
market, or damaging what is a thriving, innovative market in STM
69. Learned societies are greatly valued by the
academic and wider research community. It is of concern to us
that learned societies could stand to lose a substantial portion
of It is of concern to us that learned societies could stand to
lose a substantial portion of their income in a move to the author-pays
publishing model. This is another key issue that proponents of
the author-pays model need to address. (Paragraph 180)
Learned societies are established for the promotion
and extension of knowledge for a particular discipline. They play
a leading role in communicating cutting edge research and its
applications through journals, conferences, seminars and workshops.
They contribute to the sustainability of the science base more
generally. According to an informal analysis of journals listed
in Ulrich's Periodicals Directory, by Andrew Braid of the British
Library on behalf of The Association for Learned and Professional
Society Publishers, half the STM journals published worldwide
are by not for profit organisations. Revenue generated through
journals is re-invested within the community. They often provide
financial and other support, providing grants for conferences
and joint research activities linking groups at different universities.
There are in excess of 200 learned societies in the UK.
The Government is concerned that learned societies
could lose a substantial amount of income in a move to author-pays
publishing It is inherent in the author-pays publishing model
that these sSocieties, who have large amounts of export sales,
will suffer. This point must be taken into account when assessing
the costs and benefits of the author-pays model. It cannot be
willed away. The Government would not wish to take any action
that would threaten the viability of learned societies, with the
resulting adverse impact on the academic community.
70. We strongly support further experimentation
with the author-pays publishing model. In the short term Government
may need to provide limited financial assistance to encourage
publishers and institutions to take part in what, for them, may
be an expensive process. We applaud the Joint Information Systems
Committee for providing funding for this purpose so far and hope
that it will continue to do so. (Paragraph 184)
The JISC is supporting four publishers wishing to
move to the open access model through short term pump priming
through its open access initiative and has recently launched a
new phase of support for publishers who wish to transition to
open access. The Government will be reviewing the results of these
pilots and monitoring developments in models for scientific publishing.
Decisions on the need for any Government intervention will be
taken in light of this review.
72. Government has not shown much evidence of
a joined-up approach to the challenges posed by changes to the
model for scientific publishing. Whilst the central departments
have been slow to respond to the author-pays publishing model,
at least two Government-funded bodies have given public support
to it. This creates unnecessary confusion. We recommend that it
formulate a coherent strategy as a matter of urgency. (Paragraph
The Government is not aware that any Government-funded
bodies are acting in a way which would be inconsistent with the
overall Government approach of pursuing a level playing field.
We do not believe that any Government funded bodies are promoting
author-pays publishing at the expense of subscription-based STM
publishing. However, some bodies have acknowledged the potential
of author-pays models, and their suitability for some researchers
who would prefer to use such a method of publication. This is
in broad agreement with overall Government thinking on this issue.
For example, it has been claimed that the stance
adopted by the Food Standards Agency is inconsistent with the
overall Government approach. However, this is not evident in their
approach which is publicly available on their web site. Its Advisory
Committee on Research has said that the electronic publication
of Agency-funded research could be particularly useful in some
areas where the Agency wishes to ensure rapid publication of research
findings but where the work is not addressing a topic viewed as
a publishing priority by a major journal. The essential requirement
is that any publication, whether author-pays or subscription-pays,
must be peer-reviewed.
75. Institutional repositories should be a key
component of any long-term strategy to ensure the preservation
of digital publications. (Paragraph 193)
The Government's view is that a distinction is to
be drawn between the two purposes of (a) making published material
available quickly and freely, and (b) preserving and curating
material in the long term. These purposes are distinct but overlapping:
(a) is suited to repositories, whereas (b) is typically a function
carried out by national archives. Repositories could well
play an important role in long-term preservation and curation,
but it is too early to establish the extent or effectiveness of
such a role, and how such decentralised, networked services might
interface with larger, centralised players such as the British
The JISC has recently commenced funding for a number
of projects to support digital preservation and asset management
in universities which will explicitly address preservation and
archiving issues for institutional repositories and test collaborative
models. These projects will involve a range of university computing
science and library departments and partners such as the British
Library and the National Archives.
76. The British Library has a crucial role to
play in the preservation of digital publications, both strategically
and practically. This is an expensive process. Whilst the publication
of this Report is too late to have any influence on funding decisions
made as part of the 2004 Spending Review, we strongly support
the British Library's call for extra funding in recognition of
the work that it has carried out in this capacity. Failure of
the Government to give adequate funding to the British Library
could result in the loss of a substantial proportion of the UK's
scientific record. (Paragraph 196)
The Government notes the Committee's support for
the British Library's bid for funding from the 2004 Spending Review.
The Library's bid is being considered by DCMS, and an announcement
of allocations will be made in Autumn 2004.
77. It is vital that work on regulations for the
legal deposit of non-print publications begins as soon as possible.
We cannot understand why DCMS has not yet established the Legal
Deposit Advisory Panel. We recommend that they appoint the panel
and begin preliminary work on the regulations at official level
immediately. (Paragraph 199)
During the passage of the Legal Deposit Libraries
Bill, the Government gave a commitment to set up an independent
body, the Legal Deposit Advisory Panel and to consult on its establishment.
Work to establish the Panel is already well underway, and a public
consultation exercise will be launched in November 2004. We expect
the Panel to be established by Spring 2005. Publishers and libraries
are being kept informed of progress through the Joint Committee
on Legal Deposit.
Regulations under the Legal Deposit Libraries Act
2003 may not be made unless the Secretary of State has consulted
the legal deposit libraries, publishers and the devolved administrations.
In addition, Ministers have made assurances to the publishing
and library communities that no regulations will be made without
consideration of the recommendations of the Legal Deposit Advisory
Panel. In order to facilitate progress, the Joint Committee on
Legal Deposit is currently looking at areas in which regulations
may be made, and it has set up working groups on e-journals, on
off-line material and on territoriality. This will undoubtedly
help future deliberations of the Advisory Panel.
78. We recommend that the first task of the Advisory
Panel is to establish definitions of a digital publication and
a UK publication that are flexible enough to capture material
from a range of sources in a range of formats. (Paragraph 200)
The Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 (the 2003 act)
is framework legislation which allows for the incremental introduction
of secondary legislation covering the collection of non-print
material as it evolves and changes. The difficulties of defining
digital products and establishing territoriality were extensively
debated during the passage of the Bill. It was agreed that the
2003 Act should be implemented incrementally, starting with items
that were more easily identifiable, such as off-line material
and e-journals, which are currently being deposited under the
voluntary scheme. An early task of the Legal Deposit Advisory
Panel is likely to be consideration of the definition of a UK
publication. However, it will be for the Panel to set the agenda
for its meetings.
79. The existence of a secure network between
the legal deposit libraries would create greater efficiencies
in the deposit system and would have the potential to increase
access to deposited material. We recommend that provisions for
such a network are made in the regulations with these two aims
in mind. The deposit libraries should be funded to establish the
network. (Paragraph 201)
The Regulatory Impact Assessment undertaken for the
Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 proposed a secure network between
the legal deposit libraries as the most efficient means of depositing
non-print material. Careful consideration would need to be given
to how a secure network would work and its costs before it could
be set up. In doing so, regard would have to be given to the Legal
Deposit Libraries Act 2003, section 7, which places restrictions
on activities in relation to non-print publications to safeguard
the interests of publishers and authors. Under the 2003 Act the
Secretary of State may make regulations permitting "relevant
persons" to carry out these activities. However, the Secretary
of State may not make these regulations unless she considers that
they would not unreasonably prejudice the interests of publishers.
It would also be necessary therefore to negotiate with the publishing
community so that they can be assured that adequate safeguards
are in place. The cost of developing and providing a secure network
was included in the British Library's 2004 spending review bid.
DCMS will announce spending review allocations in Autumn 2004.
80. We recommend that the regulations make provision
for the deposit libraries to deliver digital articles remotely
to desktops on the same payment basis as Document Supply. (Paragraph
The supply of non-print publications deposited under
the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 to remote desktops for payment
will be not be permitted because of the restrictions contained
in section 7 of the 2003 Act.
81. Gaps of up to 60% in the deposit of electronically-delivered
publications, including STM journals, represent a significant
breach in the intellectual record. It is imperative that work
on recovering and purchasing the missing items begins immediately.
The six deposit libraries will need additional funding to do this.
The British Library is already taking a more proactive
approach to claiming offline material under the voluntary deposit
scheme. This includes recovering items already published, as well
as increasing the proportion of material deposited in the future.
The Library is also considering what priority should be given
to the acquisition of online material not currently covered by
the voluntary schemes. It will be for the British Library's Board
to take a view on the level of investment in this activity.
The perception that the RAE rewards publication
in journals with high impact factors is affecting decisions made
by authors about where to publish. We urge HEFCE to remind RAE
panels that they are obliged to assess the quality of the content
of individual articles, not the reputation of the journal in which
they are published. (Paragraph 210)
We understand that this issue will be covered in
guidance to the assessment panels for the 2008 RAE, which is due
to be published around the end of this year. It is anticipated
that, in keeping with established practice in previous exercises,
panels will not use journal impact factors as a leading indicator
of quality for published research and there will certainly be
no mechanistic link between medium of publication and quality
assessment. It must be recognised however that, as in previous
exercises, some panels will neither be able to read all of the
works cited in the submissions that they assess nor consider that
they need to do so to reach robust quality judgements at the level
of the academic department. Especially in disciplines where there
is a clear shared view as to which are the leading high quality
journals, the panels might reasonably conclude that they do not
need read all cited works appearing in these journals but should
give greater emphasis to reading and assessing work published
in new or unfamiliar media.
Glossary of Terms