From: MCGRANE, Christine <>
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2004 16:08:28 +0100




Committee Office, House of Commons, No. 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA

Tel. Nos. 020 7219 2793-2794 (Fax. No. - 0896) email:

No. 63 - Session 2003-20 20 July 2004



The Science and Technology Committee today publishes its Tenth Report of
Session 2003-04, Scientific Publications: Free for all? (HC 399-I).

The Committee concludes that the current model for scientific publishing
is unsatisfactory. An increase in the volume of research output, rising
prices and static library budgets mean that libraries are struggling to
purchase subscriptions to all the scientific journals needed by their

The Report recommends that all UK higher education institutions
establish institutional repositories on which their published output can
be stored and from which it can be read, free of charge, online. It also
recommends that Research Councils and other Government funders mandate
their funded researchers to deposit a copy of all of their articles in
this way.

The Committee concludes that the creation of institutional repositories
is an important first step towards a more radical change in the way that
scientific papers are published. Early indications suggest that the
author-pays publishing model could be viable and the Committee remains
unconvinced by many of the arguments mounted against it. Nonetheless,
this Report concludes that further experimentation is necessary,
particularly to establish the impact that a change of publishing models
would have on learned societies and in respect of the "free rider"
problem. In order to encourage such experimentation the Report
recommends that the Research Councils each establish a fund to which
their funded researchers can apply should they wish to pay to publish.

The Report criticises the UK Government for failing to respond to issues
surrounding scientific publications in a coherent manner. The Committee
is not convinced that it would be ready to deal with any changes to the
publishing model and calls for the formulation of a strategy as a matter
of urgency.

The preservation of digital material is an expensive process that poses
a significant technical challenge. The Report recommends that the
British Library receives sufficient funding to enable it to carry out
this work. Government needs to start work on new regulations for the
legal deposit of non-print publications immediately.

The market for scientific publications is international. The UK cannot
act alone. For this reason the Committee recommends that the UK
Government act as a proponent for change on the international stage and
lead by example. This will ultimately benefit researchers across the

Chairman of the Committee, Dr Ian Gibson, said "Publishers are
feathering their nests with big profits whilst scientific journals are
becoming less and less affordable. Government has its head in the sand:
it's about time that it landed in the in-tray of the Ministers in
question. Instead of bashing all the alternatives, commercial publishers
should be asked to justify the current publishing process they use. The
Open Access movement needs to iron out the teething problems with the
author-pays model. It's public money that oils the cogs of the
publishing machine and we want to make sure that it's well spent."

Hard copies of the Report can be obtained from TSO outlets and from the
Parliamentary Bookshop, 12 Bridge Street, Parliament Square, London SW1A
2JX (020 7219 3890) by quoting HC 399-I. The text of the Report will
also be available via the Committee=s internet homepage:

Further information on the work of the Committee can be obtained from
Committee staff on
020 7219 2793/4. Previous press notices and publications are available
on our website.

Notes for Editors

1. Under the terms of Standing Order No. 152 the Committee is
empowered to examine the "expenditure, policy and administration of the
Office of Science and Technology and its associated public bodies". The
Committee was appointed on 12 November 2001.

2. The Committee's inquiry was announced on 10 December 2003 in
Press Notice 3 of Session 2003-04.
3. The Committee took evidence from Blackwell Publishing, John
Wiley & Sons, Nature Publishing Group and Reed Elsevier on 1 March 2004;
Oxford University Press, the Institute of Physics Publishing, the
Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, BioMed
Central, Public Library of Science and Axiope on 8 March 2004; the
British Library, the Joint Information Systems Committee, Cambridge
University Library, the University of Hertfordshire and a panel of
academics on 21 April 2004; and the Department of Trade and Industry/the
Office of Science and Technology, the Higher Education Funding Council
for England and Research Councils UK on 5 May 2004.

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Received on Tue Jul 20 2004 - 16:08:28 BST

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