Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Memorandum from Professor James Crabbe, University of Reading

  I would just like to make a few points regarding the inquiry.

  1.  As Head of a large School of Biology (total staff 154) in a research-intensive University, it is vital that we perform well in Research Assessment Exercises. Outputs are a key to this, and I am under pressure to persuade my colleagues to publish in high impact factor journals. So far, these journals appear in print predominantly, usually in parallel with web access to Institutions with a print subscription.

  2.  The pricing of most print journals increases at a rate above that of inflation. When I was a Curator of our University Library (until 2001) we were continually having to decrease the numbers of journal subscriptions, even when these were part of "big deal" schemes. Thus access to important publications has been limited. This situation is worsening.

  3.  I am currently Editor of a print journal, a member of an editorial board of two web-based (only) journals, and a member of an editorial board of a print journal. The key factor to all these journals is impact factor, essentially as a result of RAE, quantifying the unquantifiable. Web-based open access journals are an important step for the future dissemination of scientific information, as long as peer review is rigorously maintained. The rigour of iterative peer review is essential to all scientific publications, minimising the risks of fraud and malpractice.

  4.  Current print journals should be forced to go to open access after no longer than six months. Finance for this, as for all open access journals, could come from a mixture of page charges, research council/HEFCE funding and funding from Institutions.

April 2004

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