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Rocky road to Open Access

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Mark Thorley, a member of the CODATA Executive Committee, Chair of the CODATA Data Policy Committee, and Data Management Co-ordinator for the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council – NERC, has recently been interviewed by the Research Information magazine*. Here comes some extracts of the article in which he expresses his opinion about Open Access and UK Research:

As open access policies come into force, UK higher education institutions are racing to meet the mandates.Rebecca Pool reports:

We always said this would be a journey and not an overnight switch,’ highlights Mark Thorley, chair of the RCUK Research Outputs Network and head of Science Information for the Natural Environment Research Council.

‘We’ve seen issues over the cost of implementation, administrative processes and also policy compliance reporting,’ he adds. ‘But we’re also seeing an increasing volume of research available as open access, so the policy is making a difference.

For Thorley, open access is a no-brainer. With a twitter account called ‘My life is Open Access and Open Data’, he points out how in today’s networked world, anyone can publish, literally anything. And, in his view, this makes instant access to peer-reviewed research more important than ever before.

‘Those in the research process have the responsibility to ensure that quality, peer-reviewed research is widely available to all who need it,’ he says. ‘Otherwise the void will be filled by make-believe and half-truths.’

So, for his part, Thorley is spearheading RCUK’s open access policy, which was introduced in 2013, a year before HEFCE announced its policy on the same. Each organisation’s policy aims to make research arising from its funds widely and freely accessible, although in practice, RCUK policy takes a firmer stance.

As Thorley highlights: ‘Many issues arise from trying to make this open access policy work at scale… we’re gearing up the whole sector to ensure the majority of papers are available in the open access corpus.

‘So the biggest issue has been how do you turn a practical open access policy into something that actually works, is do-able and doesn’t take up endless resources,’ he adds.

Published in Research Information, October/November 2015

Read the full article

* Research Information is a bimonthly printed full-colour magazine produced by Europa Science Ltd, a UK-based company.