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The publishing landscape has changed considerably over the last year, with the UK Government and many research funders calling for more articles to be made open access, and moves towards open access policies in different countries.

It has been over a year since the initial recommendations of the ‘Finch Group’, the Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings, were published and welcomed by Government. Today, the Finch Group has released a review of the progress made in the implementation of its recommendations, following consultation with key stakeholders in the academic publishing process, including researchers, publishers, universities, funders and learned societies.

The report recognises that significant steps have been taken to increase access to research outputs, but also that the development of greater clarity on the direction of travel, and more time, is needed to assess the impact of these. The report also discusses unresolved issues such as possible extension of licenses to small businesses and third sector organisations, the need for repositories that are well-linked and easy to use, and the potential to avoid duplication of effort or conflicting initiatives by developing a co-ordinating structure to secure dialogue and engagement across all stakeholders.  

The Society of Biology welcomes the collaborative and thorough process that informed this report, and supports engagement and technical development across academic and publisher systems, so all papers can be stored and accessed easily. Consistency in the way papers are deposited and tagged, described and linked will also enable monitoring of open access publishing, increase efficiency and help to minimise administrative burden at libraries and institutions.

Dr Mark Downs: “We are pleased that the Finch Group has again recognised the importance of learned societies, which provide vital support for their disciplines. Open access is likely to have a distinct impact on the operations of many learned societies across the sciences, where income from publishing funds crucial additional support for research and education. These impacts should be considered across arts and the humanities, science and technology as a whole.”