Select Committee on Science and Technology Fourteenth Report


Appendix 5

Response from Research Councils UK (RCUK)

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 at www.rcuk.ac.uk.

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 and vision.

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 issues:

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


 
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