UK leadership in OA

Stevan Harnad harnad at ecs.soton.ac.uk
Tue May 17 08:19:08 EST 2005


The following  item is from today's Open Access News (Peter Suber) 

http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/2005_05_15_fosblogarchive.html#a111633258230940226

as excerpted from today's Guardian article by Richard Wray. 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/story/0,3604,1485460,00.html

It sets the stage for the forthcoming and eagerly awaited RCUK announcement
(see 19 April item):

http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/whatsnew.asp

    UK leadership in OA

    Richard Wray, "Britain a leader in making research available on web,"
    The Guardian, May 17, 2005. 
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/story/0,3604,1485460,00.html

    EXCERPT: 'Britain is in the vanguard of the drive to make academic
    research freely available to anyone over the internet, according to
    new research.  Creating online archives of research already published
    in traditional journals is part of a move towards open access in
    academia, a movement backed by scholars and charities including
    the Wellcome Trust. While the United States has more open-access
    archives - 127 - than any other country and Britain is second with
    54, Sweden has the most archives relative to its population. By this
    measure, Britain is third and the US is in 10th place. The figures,
    compiled by Stevan Harnad, a professor at Southampton University,
    and his doctoral student Tim Brody, come as Britain's eight public
    research funders prepare to rule on open access. In March, Research
    Councils UK (RCUK), which brings together the Economic and Social
    Research Council, the Medical Research Council and six others on
    policy issues, consulted university heads on the potential impact
    of open access. Its position is expected to be made public within
    days and proponents of open access hope that RCUK will follow the
    lead of Scottish universities and research funders by giving a major
    boost to open-access archives. Earlier this year, all Scotland's
    universities pledged to set up online research libraries. Research
    funders, it recommended, should make it a condition of grants
    that any articles produced through funded research should be made
    freely available on the internet. The Scottish move is similar to
    recommendations made by MPs on the science and technology select
    committee last year. The government, however, largely ignored the
    advice. Despite this apparent setback, moves to make British research
    more widely available continue. This month some of Britain's leading
    medical research funders, including Wellcome and the British Heart
    Foundation, got together to finance the country's most comprehensive
    online repository of medical knowledge, UK PubMed Central. Efforts
    by French and Dutch research institutions
    have created similar online archives.'
http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/2005_05_15_fosblogarchive.html#a111633258230940226

The Guardian article compressed the rank order to 10 (from the original 12),
Probably in order to make it come out more dramatically, with the US
10th. This was done by collapsing a tie -- Belgium & Portugal -- into a
single rank. If the Finland and Denmark tie were collapsed too, then the US
would have been (a less dramatic) ninth, but Hungary would have been
10th. That is in a sense more dramatic, because Hungary is the only non
"mainstream" country in the top 10/12:

        (1)  Sweden
        (2)  Netherlands
        (3)  UK
        (4)  Canada
        (5)  Australia
        (6)  Finland (6)  Denmark (tied)
        (7)  Belgium (7)  Portugal (tied)
        (8)  Germany
        (9)  US
        (10) Hungary

There was also an important follow-up posting by Jan Velterop, re-ordering
the weights by number of universities rather than raw population size,
which gave roughly the same rank order, but with a few rank swaps (*
were assuming BE figures for the small euro countries):

SW* NL UK FIn* DMK* HUN GERM CAN AUS BEL POrt BRAZ FR USA ITAL SoAfR SP IND JAP

That also corrects somewhat for Arthur Sale's valid posting in which he
obesrved that the archiving is anglo(language)-centric: True, but so is
the research journal literature (and ISI coverage), owing to the McNopoly
that that tongue currently holds worldwide. OA itself should help widen
and diversify if not entirely level the linguistic playing field.!

Stevan Harnad




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