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16 September 2011

Working group on expanding access to published research findings

A new independent working group has been set up to examine how UK-funded research findings can be made more accessible.

The group will propose a programme of action and make recommendations to Government, research funders, publishers and other interested parties on how access to research findings and outcomes can be broadened for key audiences such as researchers, policy makers and the general public.

The group emerged from transparency discussions initiated at a high-level, round-table meeting by the Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities and Science. It is made up of representatives of the higher education sector, research funders, the research community, scholarly publishers, and libraries. It is chaired by Dame Janet Finch DBE, Professor of Sociology at Manchester University and independent Co-Chair of the Council for Science and Technology. Focusing on academic publications specifically journal articles, conference proceedings and monographs the working group will take into account parallel work relating to research data and other outputs being conducted by the Royal Society.

The group's work is supported by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, the Publishers Association, Research Councils UK, and HEFCE (working with the Scottish Funding Council, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, and the Department for Employment and Learning Northern Ireland).

The Research Information Network will provide the group's secretariat. The group will hold its first meeting in mid-October, and aims to produce a report in the spring of 2012.


  1. The working group will adopt an evidence-based approach to its work. So far as possible it will work collaboratively and will seek to achieve consensus. Where that is not possible, it will identify precise points of difference. It will seek to identify the key goals and guiding principles that should underlie public policy on publication of, and access to, research findings; and in the light of those principles, to identify possible routes and mechanisms in order to achieve the key goals, along with the associated costs, risks and benefits. It will take account of relevant policies and practice in other countries, and propose a programme of action for all interested parties in the UK.
  2. Further information: Dr Michael Jubb, secretary to the working group, e-mail, tel 0207 412 7285.
  3. Press release from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (including a statement from David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science).