Response from Securing a Hybrid
Environment for Research Preservation and Access (SHERPA) Project
The SHERPA Project welcomes the publication of the
Science and Technology Committee Report and urges the government
to implement its key recommendations.
The Report provides a thorough and incisive analysis
of the current problems associated with the scientific publishing
market. In particular, it shows how normal price competition does
not operate amongst journal publishers compared with most other
markets. It highlights a number of systemic problems in the publishing
process which mean that significant changes are required.
SHERPA supports the view of the committee that publicly-funded
research should be widely available to researchers (recommendation
8) and members of the public (recommendation 11). Like the Committee,
it sees open-access and dissemination of content as having the
potential to make scientific communication more efficient and
effective. Open-access publishing and open-access repositories
are identified as important developments to ensure that society
gets value for money from its investment in scientific research.
SHERPA welcomes the Report's emphasis on the importance
of institutional repositories (recommendations 42 - 58). It supports
the recommendation that public research funders (such as the Research
Councils) should mandate the depositing of papers produced as
a result of public funding in open-access repositories (recommendation
44). Such a policy is likely to lead to rapid and major improvements
in scientific communication in a highly cost-effective way.
SHERPA also welcomes the Committee's recommendation
that Government should fund the establishment of a network of
interoperable repositories building on work already carried out
and that this development should be sponsored by a central co-ordinating
body based on SHERPA (recommendation 55). SHERPA would welcome
the opportunity to be involved in this important work and is happy
to discuss with key stakeholders how this might be best achieved.
Key technical capabilities are already in place such that significant
advances could be made relatively quickly and with reasonable
levels of funding. As the Report states, what is needed now is
a joined-up Government strategy (recommendation 48) which can
facilitate the modernisation of scientific publishing and access
to research results.
The Report's emphasis on the importance of copyright
is welcomed by SHERPA. The current practice of transferring exclusive
rights to publishers is one which is not conducive to the widest
access to research results and is unnecessary even with current
publishing models. SHERPA welcomes the Report's recommendation
that Government funders should specify that the copyright of research
output cannot be transferred to publishers (recommendation 50).
Peer review is identified by the report as a critically
important part of scientific publishing. SHERPA shares this view
and supports the recommendation that repositories should identify
ways to indicate quality more clearly (recommendation 54).
The Report finds that institutional repositories
have the potential to play an important role not only in the dissemination
of scientific content but also its preservation for the future
(recommendation 75). This mirrors the importance given to preservation
by the SHERPA project. Further work in the area of digital preservation
needs to be carried out as a matter of urgency with the appropriate
SHERPA hopes that the Committee's Report will encourage
the significant changes which are necessary in the scientific
publishing environment. SHERPA is keen to play its part working
with other stakeholders, in improving the publishing system for
the benefit of the research community in particular and society
14 October 2004