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RCUK: Paywall for six months, free-for-all thereafter

March 17, 2012

Research Councils UK (RCUK) just let the cat among the pigeons by recommending that publicly funded research be made open access after six months of publication in a journal.

The imperative for open access has been growing stronger for some time, with commentators such as George Monbiot describing paywalled academic publishers as “parasitic overlords”. Academics and researchers have even driven a campaign against individual publishers such as Elsevier.

The RCUK proposal appears to listen to the community’s demands and propose a third way: paywall for six months, free-for-all thereafter.

RCUK has spent the past year consulting with the individual research councils, which spend around £3.5 billion of public money on grants. The RCUK’s draft policy proposal recommends:

“Research Councils will no longer be willing to support publisher embargoes of longer than six or twelve months from the date of publication, depending on the Research Council.”

Although the proposal comes at the end of lengthy discussions among the RCUK community, now that this document puts a stake in the ground at six months, the real debate is only just beginning.

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