The UK government announced earlier this month that 2014 will be the year of open access in the UK, with publicly funded research being made immediately accessible to anyone who wants it. But as The Guardian reported at the time, while many researchers were happy with the plan, they were worried about the transition costs being taken out of the UK's existing research budget.
However, in a new column in The Guardian, Imperial College biology professor Stephen Curry says that transition cost is being overestimated, and the plan for open access should be celebrated, not doomed to failure before it begins. "[Researchers] were concerned at the implications for the UK science budget of the move to open access, in which the costs of publication will generally be met by authors through up-front article processing charges (APCs), rather than from subscriptions paid by readers or libraries," Curry says. "These concerns seem to arise largely from the £2,000 figure that was quoted as a typical APC in the original Guardian report, but it is not clear where this number has come from." He adds that the typical APC for papers funded by Wellcome Trust is closer to £1,400, and other journals have even lower APCs, like PLoS One, which charges less than £900.
There are still details to be worked out before the open access plan is implemented, Curry says, and there are to be overcome. However, he adds, "Arguably, the government's courageous stance on this issue serves national interest by marking the UK as a visionary place to do research. We are now seen as a leading voice in international moves towards open access."