Business, Innovation and Skills CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP)

1. The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) welcomes the opportunity to respond to the BIS Committee Inquiry into the implementation of the Government’s Open Access Policy.

2. CILIP is established by Royal Charter and is the professional body for library and information professionals in the UK. It has around 15,000 members working in all parts of the UK economy.

3. We support, as a matter of principle, measures to improve people’s access to information. Many of our members have been leaders in advocating and implementing open access models, recognising the huge public benefits that come from the wider dissemination of research outputs. Equitable access to the latest research democratises knowledge, stimulates innovation and economic growth, increases research productivity and facilitates rapid knowledge transfer.

The Implications of the Government’s Preference for the “gold” Over the “Green” Open Access Model

4. We are broadly supportive of the direction of travel on open access following the publication of the Finch report and the response from the UK Government. We welcome the recommendations on extending and rationalising current licences to cover all the institutions in the HE and health sectors, the development of policies minimizing restrictions on the rights of use and re-use of open access content, especially for non-commercial purposes, and the proposal for walk-in access to the majority of journals to be provided in public libraries across the UK. Access in public libraries is important because it will encourage and enable the widest community of citizens to pursue critical personal interests in depth; it will support active citizenship and an entrepreneurial culture for social and economic benefit.

5. CILIP is committed to championing the importance of information literacy as a key public good.1 We firmly believe that a workforce that is literate in the creation, management and re-use of information is a future-facing workforce that can identify innovative ideas in our knowledge assets and turn them into value. Library and information professionals are trusted enablers of information literacy, facilitating access to information and ensuring that a system is in place to allow qualitative distinctions to be made around the authority and credibility of that information. They will strive to do this whatever medium or business model is involved, so CILIP is keen to look beyond discussions of the merits of “gold” versus “green” to more fundamental issues such as the skillsets our members need to ensure that they can continue to effectively perform this role in the future.2

6. However, making research outputs more widely accessible should not disadvantage the producers of research, be they individuals or research-intensive universities, so we do have some concerns about the implications of the gold model recommended by Finch and supported by the government. These are briefly set out below.

7. The applicability of gold open access to the humanities and social sciences: Unlike the natural sciences, humanities and social science research is often undertaken without any dedicated funding from external sources, so academics working in these disciplines will find it very difficult to find funds for the publication of their research in gold open access journals.

8. CILIP has members managing humanities and social science collections, fields in which monographs and edited volumes are the preferred formats for disseminating research findings. The Finch report acknowledges that “the difficulties now faced by authors and publishers in developing a secure future for monographs is a matter of concern” (p45). We recommend, as a first step to addressing these concerns, an appraisal of the applicability of open access publishing to these media.

9. The impact on lifelong learning and research: Lifelong learning can also embrace lifelong research. Academic librarians recognise this by endeavouring to open up their collections to the public. CILIP is concerned that the gold model will have a negative effect on the ability to conduct research outside of an academic institution, as finding resources to pay Article Processing Charges (APCs) will be an insurmountable barrier to publication for many researchers not affiliated with a university. We propose that policies and arrangements for supporting publication by independent scholars are established, as was recommended in the Finch report.

10. The impact on research intensive universities: Many of our members are based in research-intensive universities and we share their concerns about the extent of the financial and practical challenges that the gold model will present these institutions with. While the UK government’s allocation of £10 million to universities to cover part of the transition to gold is welcome, there remains a great deal of uncertainty over costs and we emphasise the need to closely monitor the impact of the transition to ensure it is cost-effective for all institutions.

11. The impact on library budgets: The average cost of journal subscriptions has been rising at a rate far above inflation for decades, while budgets at academic libraries have remained fairly static. Figures from JISC estimate that UK university libraries spend around £110 million on their journal subscriptions, with subscriptions to the large journal collections accounting for up to 80% of a library’s journals budget.3 This is unsustainable and has been a major driver in the open access movement.

12. Moves towards open access are likely to reduce library subscription budgets, but this has to be carefully managed. The availability of funding for publications on a gold access basis is very limited, so libraries will have to pay journal subscriptions for the foreseeable future if acceptable levels of access are to be maintained.

13. Academic libraries are well-placed to manage gold open access budgets and to advise researchers about gold open access publishing. We hope that a reasonable balance in the business model is attained so that the level of APCs is controlled. We propose that spending on APCs is matched by decreases in the subscription charges that UK libraries have to pay.

14. Support for Institutional Repositories: Institutional repositories are often created and managed by the library and CILIP welcomes the recognition given in the Finch report to the valuable role they play in complementing formal publishing by providing access to research data and grey literature and in digital preservation.

15. As recognised by Finch, the research communications ecosystem is complex and for the foreseeable future no single mechanism will suffice to adequately and equitably expand access to knowledge. CILIP acknowledges that the underpinnings for the economic model that has supported the publication of scholarly research for the past 350 years have gone and that there is no simple answer as to what should replace it. We can see merit in hybrid solutions and support a mixed approach that enables repositories to continue to be an important part of the scholarly communications process.

7 February 2013

1 CILIP’s definition of Information Literacy: “Information literacy is knowing when and why you need information, where to find it, and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner”. See http://www.cilip.org.uk/get-involved/advocacy/information-literacy/Pages/definition.aspx

2 For a discussion of the support and skills required for librarians in the open access environment, see: Harris, S, 2012. Moving towards an open access future: the role of academic libraries. Sage. http://www.uk.sagepub.com/repository/binaries/pdf/Library-OAReport.pdf

3 Taken from: JISC, 2010. The value of UK HEIs contribution to the publishing process http://www.jisc-collections.ac.uk/News/Value-of-HEIs-to-publishing/

Prepared 9th September 2013