British Academy says implementing open access must be done well, not quickly

25 Feb 2013

The British Academy has welcomed today's request from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) for advice on the role of open access publishing in research assessment.

Professor Chris Wickham, Publications Secretary for the British Academy, said: "This provides the academic community with genuine opportunities to shape one of the most important research policy shifts in the last 5 years. HEFCE's proposals for research assessment will be of considerable importance to the sector, and we welcome their desire to engage in discussions  prior to launching a formal consultation. This is a positive step towards ensuring that their proposals address the diversity of the UK research community, including the challenges of fair treatment of monograph publication, and it is vital that colleagues use this opportunity to respond as constructively as possible."

Today's announcement - following last week's thoughtful and measured report by the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, and RCUK's recognition of the need to revise policy in this area - confirms the British Academy's view, shared by many other bodies, that the implementation of a national policy might well have been smoother if there had been wider and earlier consultation about the differing impact of open access in the various academic and publishing communities.

Professor Wickham added: "We appreciate the detailed attention given to this policy by the House of Lords Committee and congratulate them on their recommendations. Implementing open access to research findings has the potential to bring valuable benefits to the UK academic community but those of us in the humanities and social sciences disciplines have been worried that genuine challenges and difficulties were being overlooked in the rush to be first movers. The committee's report identifies ways in which RCUK can improve its open access policy, not just for humanities and social sciences disciplines but for the whole sector and we look forward to working with them to achieve this goal."


Editor’s notes: 

  • For more information or interviews, please contact Kate Rosser Frost, Press & PR Manager at the British Academy on [email protected] or 020 7969 5263.

  • The British Academy, established by Royal Charter in 1902, is the national body that champions and supports the humanities and social sciences. It aims to inspire, recognise and support excellence and high achievement across the UK and internationally. For more information, please visit

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