Hot on the heels of the recent House of Lords inquiry, there is also a separate Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Committee inquiry into the new Research Councils UK open access mandate focusing on economic aspects. There were only 70 or so written evidence submissions to the House of Lords inquiry and few were from active researchers. Other countries around the world are closely following developments with UK policy so it is globally important that the UK mandate remains strong.
For this new BIS inquiry we think you might want to submit written evidence. You need not be a UK resident or national. In fact, since the UK contributes 6% of the world’s academic research output (and 14% of the highly cited output) we’re all stakeholders in this. Open access benefits the world, academics and non-academics alike.

The Committee will consider a range of topics including:
  • The Government’s acceptance of the recommendations of the Finch Group Report ‘Accessibility, sustainability, excellence: how to expand access to research publications’, including its preference for the ‘gold’ over the ‘green’ open access model;
  • Rights of use and re-use in relation to open access research publications, including the implications of Creative Commons ‘CC-BY’ licences;
  • The costs of article processing charges (APCs) and the implications for research funding and for the taxpayer; and
  • The level of ‘gold’ open access uptake in the rest of the world versus the UK, and the ability of UK higher education institutions to remain competitive.

They are not particularly looking for general endorsements of Open Access. That is thankfully a given, unchangeable policy direction. As I understand it they are looking for relevant evidence to the points above, only.



Written evidence should be sent to the Committee, as an MS Word document, by e-mail to  The deadline for BIS submissions is 7 February 2013, further details here.


The Open Knowledge Foundation is particularly concerned about the confusion in many recent blog posts in certain quarters over what Creative Commons licences actually do. Some have been attempting to portray the Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC BY)  as against ‘author rights’ or against ‘academic freedom‘. It would be good to make clear the benefits of CC BY, perhaps even specifically in terms of economics and economic benefits.


This is a rare opportunity for for our voices to be heard in a policy-guiding process. We should not waste this opportunity. Commercial academic publishers will almost certainly be submitting their viewpoints and interests, so we should equally ensure that our interests in intelligent openness are represented here too.


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Ross is a postdoc at the University of Bath, using content mining techniques to extract and re-use data from the academic literature. He is also a former Panton Fellow, trying to encourage data sharing / Open Data ethos in his research community. Making baby steps… e.g. in palaeontology