Memorandum from the Chartered Society
1. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy
(the CSP) is the professional, educational, and trade union body
for the United Kingdom's 42,000 chartered physiotherapists, physiotherapy
students and assistants. We have members employed in teaching
and research roles in universities across the UK. The majority
of our practising members work in the NHS, but a significant proportion
is employed in independent hospitals and charities, in residential
homes, sports clubs and in private practice. Around 98% of qualified
practising physiotherapists are members of the CSP. Physiotherapy
is the largest allied healthcare profession and the third largest
healthcare profession in the UK.
2. The CSP welcomes the Science and Technology
Select Committee's inquiry into scientific publications, which
comes at an interesting time for the CSP for two reasons. Firstly,
the Society is entering into a commercial partnership with Elsevier
to publish the CSP's relaunched scientific journal, Physiotherapy,
now entering its 90 volume. Secondly, the Society is exploring
a number of avenues for improving the funding and dissemination
of physiotherapy research.
3. The CSP wishes to make clear that its
policy on scientific publications and the views contained in this
submission are entirely independent of its new relationship with
Elsevier. The Society continues to own Physiotherapy and
has entered into a fixed term contract under which Elsevier will
administer, publish and promote the journal on the Society's behalf,
with the CSP retaining complete editorial control.
4. The tests we apply in considering these
Does the situation promote and advance
research, including physiotherapy research?
Does the situation enable researchers,
clinicians and students, in whatever occupational or educational
setting, to gain access to a wide range of research information,
including that relating to physiotherapy research?
Does the situation enable clinicians
and those redesigning services to apply the lessons of the most
recent and valuable research to their own practice and services?
5. This submission focuses on the areas
where the Society feels it has a distinctive contribution to make
to the debate.
Impact of publishers' policies on pricing and
provision of journals
6. We are not opposed to "big deals"
so long as subscribers are given an acceptable range of options
providing either variety or focus, depending upon the needs of
institutions and their users. On the whole, these deals appear
to work well for large institutions but can be more problematic
for smaller scale operations such as the CSP's own library service.
We see potential benefits to physiotherapy's teaching and research
community in such deals enabling or encouraging institutions to
subscribe to a wider range of publications. In considering how
best to relaunch our own journal to promote physiotherapy research
outside the physiotherapy profession and to an international scientific
audience, the CSP formed the view that its best option was to
work with one of the publishing companies that could make subscription
more attractive to librarians as part of a relevant package. For
smaller institutions, especially those outside formal NHS or university
structures, the relevance of coverage provided by these deals
will be more important than breadth of coverage.
Action to promote a competitive market
7. We do not offer specific proposals for
action in this area. In principle, we would wish to see at least
a significant proportion of the benefits flowing from economies
of scale coming to the consumer
8. The debate concerning open access, involving
payment to publish rather than payment to access research, is
now gathering momentum and attracting significant attention outside
the scientific publishing community. We are pleased that the Select
Committee is examining this issue as we believe that the issues
are by no means clear cut and we are keen for some of the pitfalls
to be addressed before the debate progresses further. The potential
advantages of the open access model include quicker access to
published research and, in theory at least, the potentially extended
reach of information published in this way. The disadvantages
include the risk that this new and relatively untried system could
have an impact on quality and standards relating to review processes
and editorial decision-making. The most significant concern for
the Society and the physiotherapy profession, however, is that
the costs of publication under this model may be more difficult
for some groups to meet and that it will potentially drive up
the costs of funded research projects. Much of the public debate
has focused on the potential impact in high-profile and relatively
well-funded research areas such as medicine. The funding situation
confronting researchers in physiotherapy or related smaller but
vital areas is such that these researchers would be forced to
find additional funding to publish under open access. If the Government
were to support the open access trend, it would be imperative
that it simultaneously addressed the serious imbalances in existing
funding structures. The full consequences of open access will
remain unpredictable until the rules for the next Research Assessment
Exercise have been published and universities begin implementation.
Legal Deposit facilities
9. The anecdotal evidence available to us
suggests that while the system appears to function well at the
level of national institutions, some users experience difficulties
in gaining access to collections held in university libraries
with legal deposit status.
Risk of fraud and malpractice
10. We are concerned that sufficiently robust
protocols should be developed as electronic publishing and open
access are explored, to avoid the potential for fraud inherent
in a fluid situation with increased costs for authors.
11. The CSP believes that, on many of the
issues being considered by the Select Committee, the jury is out
and will remain so for some time. We hope that all those involved
in influencing the global scientific publishing marketplacewhether
publishers, research funders, governments or subscribing institutionswill
use the current transitional period to deal with the issues of
concern to all those with a stake in the promulgation of research
rather than simply those with the highest profile under existing
12. We will be happy to furnish the Committee
with further information or to clarify anything relating to this
submission. Please contact Adam Scorer, Head of Public Affairs,
at email@example.com for further details.