Disagreement over support for open access publishing
09 November 2005
Open access publisher BioMed Central has rejected suggestions by UK science minister Lord Sainsbury that open access is losing support.
Sainsbury made his comments at an evidence session of the science and technology select committee. 'We have seen a peak in the enthusiasm for open access publishing and a fall-off in people putting forward proposals for it because some of the difficulties and costs are now becoming clear,' he said.
In an open letter to Sainsbury BioMed Central publisher Matthew Cockerill reiterated results of a recent survey produced by the Centre for Information Behaviour and the Evaluation of Research, an independent publishing think tank based at University College London. The results of the survey point to a significant rise in the number of authors publishing in open access journals, and a greater awareness about open access publishing among the research community.
'Publishers ought to be the servants of the scientific community, not its masters,' said Cockerill. He accused the government of ignoring advice about open access from the select committee and funding bodies such as Research Councils UK, who want to make it mandatory for research papers arising from Council-funded work to be deposited in openly available repositories. The government appears to give more weight to representations from the traditional publishing industry, which do not want to see a move to open access, he said.
'Open access archives of published research are strongly desirable from the point of view of funders and research institutions. Objections from traditional publishers should not be allowed to weaken the initiative from Research Councils UK to require deposit in such archives,' said Cockerill.
BioMed Central said it is not surprised to have received no response from the science minister. Katharine Sanderson