Response from Research Councils
1. Research Councils UK (RCUK) is a strategic partnership
set up to champion the research supported by the seven UK Research
Councils. Through RCUK, the Research Councils are working together
with the Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB) to create a
common framework for research, training and knowledge transfer.
RCUK was launched on 1 May 2002 and further details are available
2. This response is submitted by Research Councils
UK on behalf of all the Research Councils and AHRB, and represents
our independent views. It does not include or necessarily reflect
the views of the Office of Science and Technology (OST).
3. RCUK welcomes the Select Committee's Report on
scientific publications. The Report is a welcome and important
contribution to the debate about the evolving scholarly publications
environment, and Research Councils note in particular its breadth
4. RCUK contributed to the Government's Response
to the Report. Research Councils would nonetheless like to take
the opportunity to state that, at present, their collective view
on many of the issues covered in the report has yet to be finalised.
As Professor John Wood indicated in his letter of 26 May to the
Committee, RCUK intends to set out a cross-Research Council policy
on publication of and access to research outputs. Once it is formally
approved by the RCUK Executive Group, it is anticipated that this
policy will help to influence the development of the scholarly
publications environment in the UK and possibly beyond.
5. The RCUK policy is currently in early draft form
and is the subject of extensive consultation with significant
players, notably publishers, the librarian community (including
the British Library), academics and project leaders with a particular
interest in the relevant issues, learned societies, Government
Departments (including OST), as well as key organisations such
as JISC and UUK. RCUK had anticipated the policy to be finalised
at the end of 2004. It now seems likely that this will not happen
until early in the New Year.
6. The RCUK policy will serve the interests and address
the information needs of the UK research community; as such, it
will be based on the principles outlined in the annex to Professor
Wood's letter of 26 May. It will notably cover the following broad
- communication, access and availability,
with some emphasis on the possible role of institutional and other
- quality assurance and peer review;
- long-term preservation and curation, and how
this complements communication, access and availability; and
- the position of learned societies.
7. Aside from the immediate issue of formulating
the RCUK policy, it should also be emphasised that RCUK is a full
partner in the newly-formed Research Libraries Network. Consequently,
and in that context, Research Councils will play a role in developing
UK strategy for research information resources.
8. This note does not respond to the individual recommendations
in the Committee's Report; the RCUK policy will address the points
of the Report most relevant to RCUK and will serve to illustrate
the importance that Research Councils attach to the dissemination
and preservation of the information outputs of research.
26 October 2004