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Finch Report Represents an Important Step Toward UK Open Access Policy but Significant Questions Remain on Implementation

PLoS welcomes the Finch report recommendation to adopt open access of publicly funded research in the UK. The report raises important questions of implementation, particularly on licensing and transitional funding arrangements, that must be resolved in detail. We look forward to working with other stakeholders committed to Minister David Willetts’ vision of a knowledge economy supported by open access to answer those questions.

The report does not give sufficient consideration to the investment in repositories by UK higher education institutions. This investment can be leveraged during the shift to full open access; therefore, repositories have an important role to play in providing an infrastructure to support the transition. Transparent article publication fees charged to authors (gold open access) and free repositories (green open access) will both have a crucial role in constraining transitional costs to ensure that publishers provide value for money services.

Much of the report focuses on the risks that the transition will pose to traditional publishers and far too little on the fact that a vibrant open-access industry already exists. Many competitive and financially viable publishers are providing high quality open-access journals in a way that already delivers on the UK government’s end goals. PLoS and other open-access stakeholders have proven that scholarly content can be peer reviewed, indexed, archived, and made fully available online under a Creative Commons Attribution license in an affordable, sustainable open-access publishing model.

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