3. Expanding Access to Published Research Findings: The Finch Report

3.2. Report and Impact Assessment

Report assessment - the good, the bad and the indifferent

There has been much criticism of the Finch Report, as it has become known, for the identified shortcomings and the missed opportunity to really bring about feasible and sustainable routes to open access.  The preference for paid open access models and the recommendation that the money to pay for it should be found from research funding, whilst ‘protecting’ current academic publishing models, has been heavily criticised both by researchers, who see this as a reduction in the available funding for actual research, and by open access advocates for its short-sighted refusal to recognise the input and feasibility of institutional repositories as a route to OA. 

The Group has also been criticised for its perceived protection of the academic publishing industry as it exists today due to its preference for paying for OA rather than advocating a mixed economy of paid and self-archiving.  Many researchers are now looking to a new academic publishing and communications model that would allow them to be more flexible, timely, and open about their research, whilst also maintaining their research edge.  Academics in diverse disciplines, for example Mathematics and the Humanities, are now investigating ways to move away from more traditional models of publishing in order to explore the alternatives in a similar way to Public Library of Science has provided open access publishing models to Science and Medicine.

It should also be noted that, whilst there was representation from the research, library, funding and publishing communities, there was no representation of the Open Access movement as such, and this may in part explain expressed preference for ‘gold’.


Impact assessment

Recommendations 1, 2, and 3  in the Finch Report have had the greatest impact on the move to open access so far, with widespread discussion and specific announcements geared towards meeting these recommendations within the UK. 

Research Councils UK and the Wellcome Trust each announced new, revised, policies in July 2012, implementing much stricter requirements on permissions relating to the reuse and distribution of publications produced as a result of funded projects.  The Wellcome Trust have for some time supported a preference for paid open access through provision of block grants to institutions with researchers holding a Wellcome research grant, and Research Councils UK have since followed suit announcing their own block grant scheme and putting in place a 5-year timeframe in which to meet their objectives.  RCUK have, however, recognised the significant input of institutional and other repositories in the Open Access movement, and whilst expressing a preference for paid open access, have also included a provision for meeting their policy through self-archiving of the accepted manuscript in a repository.  RCUK and Wellcome so far focus largely on the journal article and conference paper.

In addition to these, in September 2012, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills announced pump prime funding to be made available to the top 30 research intensive institutions in the UK with a view to preparing for the move to fully funded open access publishing.