Memorandum from The Royal Society
The publication of scientific theories
and findings in peer-reviewed journals is the cornerstone of modern
science. The costs of scientific publication must be paid for
at some point in the process. The Government must ensure that
the dissemination of scientific research is properly resourced,
whether this is through the library acquisition budget under the
subscription model or by additional funding of authors under the
current Open Access model.
The publisher provides many invaluable
services including peer review, copyediting and formatting. Many
have invested heavily in electronic publishing methods to the
benefit of both the author and the reader. One of the causes of
the increase in journal subscription rates is the increase in
the number of papers submitted to, and published in, scientific
The Learned Society (not-for-profit)
publishers play a vital role in the scientific community by using
their publishing surplus not only to support and fund scientists
and engineers but also to undertake science communication and
public dialogue programmes, to promote science education and to
interact with industry. A number of the smaller Learned Societies
would be unlikely to survive without their publishing income and
the work of the larger ones would be reduced.
The Office of Fair Trading should
ensure that scientific journals are subject to the same regulation
as other markets.
Many subscription-based publishers
are taking steps to increase the availability of the papers that
they publish, but more needs to be done. We, along with the majority
of the world's Scientific Academies, support the recommendations
of the InterAcademy Panel that electronic access to journals should
be free of charge on publication to scientists in developing countries
and within one year to the rest of the world.
The Royal Society is in favour of
the widest practicable dissemination of science but we believe
that the current proposals for Open Access journals (where papers
are free online to all) lack a sustainable business model. There
are many uncertainties about how Open Access journals will operate
as they become established and where authors will get the money
to pay the required article processing fees. This has led to concerns
that: the overall cost to the science base will be greater than
under the subscription model, some authors will be unable to publish
in certain journals due to lack of funds, the quality of publications
may be reduced as publishers bow to commercial pressures to reduce
the rejection rate of papers, it will not be possible to cross-subsidise
minority interest publications, and that the total number of scientists
funded by charities will be reduced in order to pay publishing
fees. There is a need for all interested parties (authors, librarians,
research funders, higher education policy makers and publishers
of both traditional and Open Access journals) to work together
to address these concerns and determine whether a sustainable
business model for open access publishing can be developed.
We welcome the Legal Deposit Libraries
Act that will extend the system of legal deposit to non-print
material. As the subsequent regulations are introduced we would
like to see access to electronic material being made as generous
Provided that rigorous peer-review
continues to be the cornerstone of the scientific publishing operation,
trends in delivery mechanisms are not expected to impact on fraud
The Royal Society supports the widest possible
practicable dissemination of scientific knowledge. As a publisher
ourselves we regularly review the various business models in scientific
publishing (including the developing model of Open Access) to
determine which might best achieve this dissemination. As the
Committee is aware, the Society has three major roles: as a Learned
Society which includes the publishing role, organising meetings,
recognising excellence and generally promoting science; as the
UK's Academy of Science providing independent scientific advice
and representing UK scientists within the UK and on the international
stage; and as a funding agency providing financial support for
scientists, engineers and technologists to pursue their work.
The responses below to the questions posed by the Committee reflect
these various roles. The findings of this inquiry into access
to scientific journals (and the evidence submitted to it) will
be of great interest to us.
The formal publication of scientific research
in learned journals began in the 17th century to bring scientific
findings and concepts to a wider audience than had previously
been possible and in doing so to promote their discussion and
development. The modern scientific publishing process has become
increasingly sophisticated to the benefit of authors and their
readers and today's scientific publishing is an excellent example
of co-operation with authors, peer-reviewers and readers in every
corner of the world.
The Society is the world's oldest continuously
established scientific publisher and publishes six internationally
respected journals, including "Philosophical Transactions",
the world's oldest scientific periodical, which first appeared
in 1665. We are advised by our Publishing Board, which consists
of members of the scientific community (including the editors
of our journals) and representatives of other scientific publishers.
Our journals now make optimum use of electronic production and
delivery and the Society is recognised as a leader in the provision
of editorial services to the benefit of both authors and readers.
Our titles are:
Philosophical Transactions of
the Royal Society: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Philosophical Transactions of
the Royal Society: Biological Sciences
Proceedings of the Royal Society:
Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Proceedings of the Royal Society:
Notes and Records, dealing with
the history of science, engineering, medicine and technology.
We have recently announced a new journal Interface
that will publish papers reporting scientific advances at the
interface between the biological and the physical sciences. This
will reflect the huge upsurge in (and funding for) cross-disciplinary
science and the demand for a publishing medium for the findings
of such research that is currently underserved by existing journals.
1. What impact do publishers' current policies
on pricing and provision of scientific journals, particularly
"big deal schemes", have on libraries and the teaching
and research communities they serve?
The majority of commercial and not-for-profit
publishers operate on a subscription basis. This is potentially
restrictive in the sense that the results of scientific research
are initially available to those institutions and individuals
who are able to, or that choose to, subscribe to given journals.
However, as outlined below and in subsequent sections, many publishers
are taking action to increase the availability of their journals
online. We have been concerned about the pricing of journals by
some commercial publishers, as outlined in our letter to the Director
General of Fair Trading supporting a review of practices in the
market for scientific, technical and medical journals in 2001.
(a) "Big deals"
Librarians initially welcomed the "big
deals" under which large publishers typically double the
online content taken by a given library in return for what is
seen as a relatively small increased cost on (normally) a three-year
contract. It has since become clear that because collectively
these publishers often represent about half of a library's serials
collection, these deals have "chained" budgets and removed
choice. Many libraries have no plans to renew them.
(b) The role of the Learned Society publishers
Both Learned Society publishers and commercial
publishers play a key role in the dissemination of science. The
Learned Society publishers operate on a not-for-profit basis and
their journals tend to be more competitively priced. In contrast
to the commercial publishers, any surplus generated through this
not-for-profit publishing is used to directly support the UK scientific
community (and the wider public) thorough the many activities
of the Learned Societies. The Committee has itself recognised
the importance of these activities,
whichin addition to supporting and funding scientists and
engineersinclude science communication and public dialogue
programmes, the promotion of science education and interactions
with industry. A number of the smaller Learned Societies would
be unlikely to survive without their publishing income and even
the larger Societies (such as the Royal Society) would be forced
to reduce the scale of their activities. They would also be unable
to develop new journals and take advantage of new technology,
to the detriment of authors and readers. The Royal Society's publishing
income enables us to undertake a variety of activities for the
benefit of science that would otherwise be impossible. Much of
the income from scientific publishing is generated overseas, 92%
in the case of the Royal Society. In the case of the Learned Society
publishers, this represents substantial funding for UK science.
From the evidence submitted to its inquiry into Learned Societies,
the Committee will be aware that the Learned Societies use this
income to leverage substantial additional funds into the science
base in the UK. Commercial publishers publish some journals on
behalf of the smaller Learned Societies. In these cases the commercial
publisher will retain a proportion of the surplus income.
(c) Increasing access to scientific papers
We would of course be concerned if the progress
of science was being hampered because the cost of journals was
restricting the availability of the latest research findings.
In a statement published in December 2003, the InterAcademy Panel
(IAP) made a number of recommendations aimed at increasing the
dissemination of scientific knowledge.
These include providing electronic access to journals within one
year of publication and immediate access for scientists in developing
countries. The Royal Society, along with the majority of the world's
scientific academies, has endorsed these recommendations.
Publishers (both commercial and not-for-profit)
differ in their approach to making their content available to
those who do not subscribe to their journals. Apart from some
pharmaceutical and medical journals, the abstracts of most journal
papers are available free of charge online from the date of publication.
The abstract summarises the key findings of the paper and will
also provide contact details of the authors from whom more information
(for example about the experimental method used) can be sought
by scientists and other interested parties. The full content of
Royal Society journals is made available free of charge online
12 months after publication. In addition our liberal copyright
policies mean that authors can make the papers published in our
journals freely available on their websites and can reproduce
them for teaching purposes within their university. Enabling access
by researchers to scientific findings in developing countries
where libraries are less well resourced is of particular importance.
A number, but not all, commercial and not-for profit publishers
offer special arrangements to developing countries. The Royal
Society makes its journals available online for free to 15 selected
developing countries via the Programme for the Enhancement of
Research Information run by the International Network for the
Availability of Scientific Publications INASP/PERI initiative.
This programme aims to support capacity building in the research
sector of developing and transitional countries by strengthening
the production, access and dissemination of information and knowledge.
As well as establishing a presence online for
current content, it is also worth noting that a number of publishers
with a long record of publishing, including The Royal Society,
have begun to mine their impressive back archive of journal material.
The Royal Society of Chemistry, for instance, has just released
its complete journal archive back to the early nineteenth century,
consisting of 195,000 articles and 1.2 million pages. The Royal
Society has plans to add the 56,000 articles published between
1665 and 1996 to its own website. For the first time all this
content will be available to anyone who can access the Internet,
allowing searches across a much greater volume of material. This
will extend access substantially and be an invaluable tool for
researchers and historians alike.
(d) Services provided by the publisher
In considering subscription prices and their
alternatives it is important to recognise the services that the
publisher provides. Once a paper is submitted to a journal the
publisher will manage the peer review process. In liaison with
the academic editor and editorial board, two or more referees
are selected and assigned an article for peer review. Often papers
require substantial revision and more that one round of refereeing.
Even though the referees are volunteers, managing the peer review
process to ensure timeliness and quality is administratively expensive.
In the case of the Royal Society's journals the peer review process
represents 42% of our publishing staff costs. Given that quality
journals typically reject 65-70% of submissions on the basis of
peer review, this represents a considerable cost for which there
is no financial return. Those papers that are accepted are passed
to sub-editors employed by the publisher. They will ensure that
language is unambiguous, correct style and nomenclature has been
applied and illustrative material is of the required standard.
For an increasing number of authors and readers English is not
their first language. The copyediting undertaken by publishers
is crucial in ensuring that the finished paper is understandable
to the global scientific community. The article content is then
converted to the required format for both electronic and print
Many scientific publishers, including the Royal
Society, have taken advantage of the opportunities offered by
electronic publishing, investing heavily in electronic systems
for peer review, editing and electronic publishing systems. Electronic
journals are provided via online platforms, which provide valued
added features such as sophisticated searching and links to and
from other relevant articles and abstract and indexing services.
For example, reference linking provides links to the articles
cited in papers and will in turn link to papers that cite that
article in the future. This requires a more intense level of editing,
cross checking and document structure. This increases the quality
and value of the service for the reader but also increases production
The print journal is still a requirement for
most libraries; in addition this requires typesetting, printing
2. What action should Government, academic
institutions and publishers be taking to promote a competitive
market in scientific publications?
Given the global nature of scientific publishing,
it is not clear how a national government (apart perhaps from
the US, as outlined below) can have a substantive impact on the
market. It is of course important that the market for scientific
publishing in the UK is subject to the same regulation as other
markets and we welcomed the examination by the Office of Fair
Trading (OFT) into the market for scientific, technical and medical
journals in 2002. 
This concluded that, while there was evidence to suggest that
the market for these journals may not be working, it was inappropriate
at the time for the OFT to intervene in the market. However they
committed to keep the situation under review. The fact that VAT
is chargeable at the full rate on electronic journals (despite
being zero-rated on printed journals) may be having a negative
effect on the market for electronic journals.
The one government that might substantially
influence the global market is that of the United States, which
has a critical mass of scientific output. The Royal Society is
not alone in having a substantial number of its authors (30% in
our case) based in the United States and any changes in relevant
US legislation would impact on the operation of UK journals. For
example, the US Public Access to Science Bill, which was introduced
in June 2003, would (if passed) prohibit copyright protection
for any works stemming from substantially federally funded research.
Most publishers seek copyright assignment from authors and others
require a licence to publish. While any resulting Act by itself
would not guarantee free and open access to science and medical
research results, it has led to proposals that such papers would
need to be published in media to which access is widely available.
As a result there is concern that the momentum generated by these
discussions might result in the scientific publishing industry
moving towards an Open Access model (where no charge is made to
access journals online) before the infrastructure to support that
move is in place. Open Access is considered in more detail in
the next section.
Institutions, Learned Societies and influential
individuals can, if they wish, encourage their staff, members
and colleagues to support (both through purchase of and publication
in) those journals that they believe have appropriate pricing
and access conditions. We have already highlighted the IAP statement,
signed by the majority of the world's scientific academies, which
recommends actions that will improve access to scientific information.
In our report Keeping science open
the Royal Society recommended that Learned Societies have liberal
copyright policies and make their publications available at as
low a cost as is reasonably feasible and that scientists, wherever
practicable, publish in journals with liberal access policies.
3. What are the consequences of increasing
numbers of Open Access journals, for example for the operation
of the Research Assessment Exercise and other selection processes?
Should the Government support such a trend and, if so, how?
The Royal Society supports the principle that
scientific research literature should be disseminated in the widest
practicable way but recognises that the business model must balance
the needs of the various stakeholders in the scientific community.
While it is possible that access to scientific information could
be enhanced via the traditional subscription model, there is currently
some support within sectors of the scientific community for an
Open Access model of publishing. Whether the current model of
Open Access publishing has a lasting impact on the scientific
world will depend on whether a sustainable business model can
be developed and whether the quality of the journal is judged
highly enough by scientists so that they are prepared to publish
there. The current Open Access model is at an early stage and
is surrounded by much uncertainty. We highlight some of these
uncertainties and the associated concerns in the following sections,
basing our comments on the trends in Open Access journals that
seem to be emerging.
(a) The current model of Open Access journals
Under the model currently proposed for Open
Access journals, the cost of publishing is paid by the author
or their funder (rather than the purchaser of the journal) and
anyone with a connection to the Internet can (without charge)
read, download, print, copy, and redistribute any published article
or to use its contents in derivative works, such as databases,
textbooks, or other teaching materials. At the moment, Open Access
publishing accounts for an estimated 5% of the overall scientific
publishing output and is currently largely confined to papers
reporting the findings of original research in the biomedical
sciences. The main publishers are the UK-based BioMedCentral (which
is aiming to establish a viable commercial business model) and
the US-based Public Library of Science (PLoS) (a not-for-profit
organisation run for and by scientists). Both have received financial
subsidy. PLoS has received considerable private funding to cover
its establishment costs, most notably a grant of USD9M from the
Moore Foundation. Biomed Central has received support from the
Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) which is funded by
the UK post-16 and higher education funding councils. Since July
2003, JISC has paid the BioMed Central membership for all UK universities
(the implications of this central mode of funding are discussed
below) and is also offering grants to publishers or Learned Societies
looking to move to an open access model for their journal(s).
There is currently no practical evidence that Open Access journals,
as currently proposed, are sustainable without subsidy and this
has caused understandable concern.
(b) Estimates of the cost of publishing
Under the current model of Open Access journals,
an article-processing fee is charged to the author to cover the
costs of peer review and publication. Estimates of a sustainable
level for this fee vary from USD500 to USD10,000. We have been
concerned that those providing the lower estimates have underestimated
the value and cost of the services such as peer review and copy
editing that are provided by the publisher (some these are outlined
in section 1d). It is important to recognise that a not insignificant
cost is incurred in the administration of the peer review process.
As noted in section 1d, for the Royal Society this represents
42% of publishing staff costs. Assuming that the processing fee
is payable on acceptance (which is the case currently), significant
costs will be incurred in peer reviewing papers that are later
rejected. In quality journals this rejection rate is 65-70%. There
will undoubtedly be pressure to increase the number of papers
that are accepted in order to make the business model sustainable
and this could lead to an associated drop in quality of the journals.
The base fee is likely to be based on the prestige of the journal
(in part linked to their high rejection rates), thus the fee is
expected to vary between journals. It is also possible that the
fee might vary according to the nature of the paper with more
being charged for the number of figures, the length or amount
of editorial work required. Since some of these attributes might
vary between disciplines, any differential pricing structure should
be viewed with caution.
(c) How might open access journals be funded
in the UK?
In order to publish a sustainable Open Access
journal under the current model either the authors or their institutions
must be prepared (and able) to pay the article-processing fee
(also known as acceptance fees). Given the uncertainties about
the source of the funding required for these fees and the way
it might be allocated, it is difficult to estimate the impact
on the science base. Open Access, actual and proposed, is currently
very much concentrated in biomedicine, which receives substantial
funding from the pharmaceutical industry that could cover these
costs. Other disciplines are unlikely to be funded to the same
level. Should the current model of Open Access become widespread,
it is not yet clear how the money for the fee would be allocated
to researchers or their institutions. At least three possible
ways of funding the article processing fees are emerging: central
funding, funding via the research grant and funding by the university.
In the case of BioMed Central, JISC is paying the subscription
fee for all UK universities so that researchers do not have to
pay individual acceptance fees. It is unlikely that this central
funding of Open Access journals will be sustainable in the long
term without additional funding being allocated to JISC. In order
to allow scientists the freedom to choose where they submit their
papers (a key requirement of any system) the central payment of
submission fees would need to be extended to all open access publishers
(in the UK and overseas) as they emerge.
A second option is to pay for processing fees
through the funding that researchers receive from research grants
and fellowships. For example the Wellcome Trust has recently agreed
to allow journal processing fees to be paid out of its grants.
This would obviously require additional funds to be allocated
to the Research Councils and raises a number of questions about
how the required amount of money could be fairly determined at
the outset of a research grant or fellowship (particularly given
that publication rates are likely to differ between research areas).
There is also the question of the impact on the funding of research
by charities, particularly those without the considerable resources
of the Wellcome Trust. The Royal Society, for example, runs number
of funding schemes for scientists. Perhaps the best known is the
University Research Fellowships, most of which are funded by our
Parliamentary Grant in Aid (PGA). Our 300 University Research
Fellows publish an average of about four papers per year. Based
on an estimate of USD3,000 fee per article (which we believe is
realistic if the current high standards in publishing are to be
maintained) an extra USD3.6 million or £1.96 million per
year would need to be found to fund our URFs alone. In the absence
of an increase to our PGA we would be forced with the choice of
reducing amount of research money funding allocated to our URFs,
reducing in the total number of URFs that we could support or
diverting funds from our other activities to compensate.
There has been no proper estimate of whether
the funds that would be required to meet processing fees would
be greater or less than the money allocated to libraries for their
acquisition budgets. Such an estimate is required if the net cost
to UK science is to be quantified. A study in the US counted the
number of papers published by scientists and social scientists
at Duke University and estimated that the cost of publishing these
in PLoS (with their USD1,500 fee) was USD6.75 million. They assumed
that the university would pay the article fee, a third option
for funding, and compared this with the university's smaller budget
of USD6.6 million for all its journals and online databases (and
not just those used by the scientists and social scientists) .
(d) Will some authors be unable to afford
We are opposed to any publication model that
prevents high quality scientific research from being published.
Under the subscription model any author can publish a paper in
any journal provided that it passes the peer review process. It
is not clear where authors who are not affiliated to an institution
(eg junior researchers that are between contracts) or in receipt
of a research grant would find the money to pay the processing
fee for Open Access journals. Authors from poorly funded institutions
(for example in developing countries) will also face difficulties.
We welcome the commitment from PLoS to waive or reduce charges
for any author who cannot afford to pay publication charges but
it remains to be seen what criteria will be used judge whether
the fee can be afforded and whether the impact of such a waiver
on the sustainability of the current model of Open Access journals
has been properly considered.
(e) Can the current Open access model work
for all journals?
The current model of Open Access publishing
is concerned with unsolicited papers reporting the findings of
research. It is unlikely that authors would pay a processing fee
for papers that had been commissioned by the publishers and Open
Access publishers such as Biomed Central are retaining a subscription
model for these articles and journals. Commissioned work includes
journals such as the Royal Society's Transactions journals that
publish the proceedings of our international scientific Discussion
Meetings and bring together the working of leading scientists
to produce themed issues that represent the latest thinking on
particular scientific issues (eg nanotechnology). Subscription
income also allows a valuable cross-subsidisation of minority
interest publications that, although not financially viable, are
highly valued by researchers in the discipline in question. Examples
include the Royal Society's history of science journal Notes and
Records and its Biographical Memoirs annual publication that contains
the definitive accounts of the lives and work of its deceased
Fellows. Both commercial and not-for-profit publishers cross-subsidise
books and journals. For example in 2002-03, the Society invested
£104k in this "subsidised" publishing activity.
Future cross-subsidised activities may include the placing of
the back content of Royal Society journals on the Internet (see
1c). It is unlikely that the subsidised publications, currently
published by both commercial and not-for-profit publishers, would
survive under the current Open Access model.
(f) Will authors publish in Open Access
Scientists submit their work to a particular
journal based on its appropriateness to the readership they want
to reach and on its prestige. The Open Access movement is in its
infancy and it is not yet clear whether authors will submit papers
to Open Access journals in sufficient numbers when the excitement
surrounding the launch of the first journals has passed. In the
past, authors have reverted quickly to their traditional journals
that have the usage statistics and citation values that help to
build their careers. The PLoS recognises that new and mid-career
researchers will be concerned about the risk of publishing their
best work in a journal without a track record. They promise that
the academic editors will be leaders in the field, and for every
accepted manuscript they will supply a signed endorsement explaining
the importance of the work and how it has satisfied these rigorous
criteria for publication. They suggest that this letter can be
provided as support for grants, job applications, and so on. Essentially
therefore the success of these journals essentially depends on
the support of the leading academics in the field (in terms of
acting as editors and publishing in the journals themselves) and
the associated development of the journal's impact factor. We
do not envisage any impact on the Research Assessment Exercise
(RAE) unless the commercial pressures on publishers to increase
the number of papers that they publish (and reduce the numbers
that they reject) results in a reduction in the quality of the
papers published in Open Access journals. We expect papers published
in Open Access journals to be judged by the same criteria as subscription
journals. Electronic journals operating "open peer review"
(where papers are initially published without peer review) could
impact on the RAE and these are addressed in section 5.
(g) Impact on the Learned Societies
As will be evident from the examples given in
this and preceding sections, a widespread move from a subscription
to an Open Access model could have a substantial impact on the
work that the Learned Societies can undertake for their scientific
communities (including the range of journals that they could publish)
and for government, industry and the wider public. Those that
are both publishers and research funders could be doubly affected.
This is naturally of great concern to us.
(h) Addressing the uncertainties
It will be clear from the points above that
there is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the current model
of Open Access journals. The principle of increasing the availability
of scientific information is to be commended. However, given the
central importance of scientific publications in underpinning
the dissemination of research and in the absence of a practical
demonstration of a sustainable business case for the current model
of Open Access journals, we (along with much of the scientific
community) are understandably cautious. Within the next six months
it is hoped that some workable proposals will emerge. We believe
that progress in evaluating the potential for Open Access publishing
(particularly outside the Biomedical community) and assessing
its possible impact is hindered by the fact that the various interested
parties such as authors, librarians, research funders, higher
education policy makers and publishers of both traditional and
Open Access journals are all meeting separately to discuss these
issues. Prior to the launch of this Inquiry we had been planning
to facilitate a round table with all interested parties to fully
discuss all the issues relating to open access publication and
the potential impact on the scientific community. We may now wait
until after the publication of the Committee's report to arrange
4. How effectively are the Legal Deposit
Libraries making available non-print scientific publications to
the research community and what steps should they be taking in
We welcome the Legal Deposit Libraries Act,
which enables the Secretary of State to make regulations to extend
the system of legal deposit to non-print material and look forward
to the introduction of the regulations through which the Act will
be implemented. Access to material deposited under the 2000 Code
of practice for the voluntary deposit of non-print publications
is via the Reading Rooms of the British Library. Wider access
within or between individual libraries, or use for such purposes
as document supply and Inter-Library Loan, is only permitted under
explicit licence from the publisher and with the payment of fees
and/or royalties set by the publisher. As the subsequent regulations
are introduced we would like to see access conditions made as
generous as possible without damaging the viability of publishers.
5. What impact will trends in academic journal
publishing have on the risks of scientific fraud and malpractice?
The scientific community is aware of the risks
of scientific fraud and malpractice even within the peer review
system and bodies such as the Committee on Publication Ethics
have been established to address breaches of research and publication
ethics. Provided that rigorous peer-review continues to be the
cornerstone of the scientific publishing operation, trends in
delivery mechanisms are not expected to increase fraud and malpractice.
The two main Open Access publishers, Biomed Central and PLoS,
publish only peer-reviewed papers. The value of journal titles
is to provide a quality assurance to the reader regarding the
standard of the paper(s). As outlined in section 3, there is a
concern that as publishers attempt to develop a sustainable open
access business model there will be an incentive to increase the
number of papers that are publishedbecause the costs of
peer reviewing papers that are later rejected cannot be reclaimed
if payment is based on acceptance. However it is not clear whether
publishers will give in to this pressure and if they do whether
the associated reduction in quality would increase the risks of
scientific fraud or malpractice.
Of greater concern would be a move towards open
peer review. The procedure varies but essentially papers are placed
on the journal's website with a request for comments. Papers are
revised as reviews are received and re-posted on the website.
A confidential peer review stage may sometimes follow. Given the
increasing number of people who have access to the Internet there
is a possibility that people who are less familiar with the importance
of peer review may use the information contained in the non-peer
reviewed version. This would be of particular concern in the medical
sciences where papers are more likely to be of interest to the
non-expert. Scientific research is accredited through publication
in peer-reviewed journals and there would be difficulty in incorporating
such open peer review journals into assessment methods such as
recruitment, grant applications and the RAE since it would be
unclear to what extent the papers had been subject to peer review.
228 Royal Society (2001) Response to request for
views on whether the Office of Fair Trading should undertake a
review of practises in the market for scientific, technical and
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House of Commons S&T Committee Fifth Report (2001-2002)
Government Funding of the Scientific Learned Societies.
Report and Proceedings of the Committee HC 774-I (www.parliament.uk/parliamentary-committees/science-and-technology-committee) Back
House of Commons S&T Committee Fifth Report (2001-2002)
Government Funding of the Scientific Learned Societies.
Minutes of Evidence and Appendices HC 774-II (web reference as
InterAcademy Panel (2003) Statement on Access to Scientific
Information (www.interacademies.net) Back
For more information on the Programme for the Enhancement of
Research Information please see www.inasp.info/peri/intro.html
Office of Fair Trading (2002) The market for scientific,
technical and medical journals OFT396 (www.oft.gov.uk) Back
Royal Society (2003) Keeping science open: the effects of intellectual
property policy on the conduct of science. Document: 02/03 (www.royalsoc.ac.uk/policy)
Guterman, L (2004) The Promise and Peril of `Open Access'
The Chronicle of Higher Education (http://chronicle.com) Back
For more information on the Committee on Publication Ethics
please see www.publicationethics.org.uk Back