As things now stand, taxpayers fund much of the scientific research conducted in British universities, and private companies make a hefty profit publishing it. Indeed, those same universities pay an estimated £150m every year for access to scholarly journals.
The proposal that all state-funded research be made freely available is not just a matter of cutting out the expensive middleman. It would speed the dissemination of the latest scientific knowledge, both to other researchers and also to industry.
Academic publishers will argue that high profits are needed to maintain standards. The Finch review recommends a workable alternative, however, with researchers funded by their own universities to publish.
The transition will need to be managed with care. But the change will be nothing but good for science – and that is what counts.
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