UK Science/Technology Committee Report

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sat, 31 Jul 2004 14:51:49 +0100 (BST)

On Sat, 31 Jul 2004, Peter Suber wrote:

> U.K. House of Commons Committee Report
> 4. SPARC Europe News
> David Prosser, director of SPARC Europe, has provided the following
> analysis of the U.K. House of Commons “Science and Technology Committee
> Report on Scientific Publications” and its impact on SPARC Europe.
> 1.Funding bodies should require that authors retain copyright
> 2.Funding bodies should require that authors deposit a copy of their
> final papers in suitable repositories

There is an error here: The requirement to self-archive (2) is actually
recommended, whereas the requirement to retain copyright (1) is only
mentioned conditionally:

    "117. ...Academic authors currently lack sufficient motivation
    to self-archive in institutional repositories. We recommend that
    the Research Councils and other Government funders mandate their
    funded researchers to deposit a copy of all their articles in
    their institution's repository within one month of publication or a
    reasonable period to be agreed following publication, as a condition
    of their research grant..."

    "125. As with many of the issues surrounding the publication of STM
    journal articles, any change to existing copyright provisions could
    be problematic if it were implemented at a national level only. If UK
    authors were mandated to retain the copyright on their articles, this
    could put them at a disadvantage internationally, as some publishers
    might select in their place non-UK authors who were still willing to
    assign all rights. If papers were selected for publication on the
    basis of quality alone, this ought not to occur. Given evidence
    of current publisher practices, however, we cannot be entirely
    confident that the copyright status of authors would be ignored
    when the publisher decided which articles to accept and which to
    decline. Such issues present difficulties for the reform of the
    current system. Nonetheless they should not in themselves be allowed
    to prevent a move towards a more effective system of self-archiving.

    126. The issue of copyright is crucial to the success of
    self-archiving. We recommend that, as part of its strategy for the
    implementation of institutional repositories, Government ascertain
    what impact a UK-based policy of author copyright retention would
    have on UK authors. Providing that it can be established that such a
    policy would not have a disproportionately negative impact, Research
    Councils and other Government funders should mandate their funded
    researchers to retain the copyright on their research articles,
    licensing it to publishers for the purposes of publication. The
    Government would also need to be active in raising the issue of
    copyright at an international level."

I think the UK Committee has been extremely wise and well-informed
in the decisions it made: It recommended mandating self-archiving but it
only recommended ascertaining the impact of a copyright-retention mandate;
it did not recommend mandating it at this time. This was, in my view,
*exactly* the right position to take.

Moreover, with 84% of journals already giving self-archiving their
official green light, the copyright-retention question may well become

Stevan Harnad

UNIVERSITIES: If you have adopted or plan to adopt an institutional
policy of providing Open Access to your own research article output,
please describe your policy at:

    BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a suitable open-access
            journal whenever one exists.
    BOAI-1 ("green"): Otherwise, publish your article in a suitable
            toll-access journal and also self-archive it.

A complete Hypermail archive of the ongoing discussion of providing
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Received on Sat Jul 31 2004 - 14:51:49 BST

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