March 18, 2011 2 Comments
A major report by the Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE) is urging universities to open access to their knowledge and intellectual property to support and boost UK manufacuring capacity.
The reports assesses the UK’s current position in manufacturing – Britain is still the sixth largest manufacturer in the world by output, with manufacturing contributing £131 billion to GDP (13.5%), 75% of business research and development (R&D), 50% of UK exports and ten percent of total employment.
Given the conventional wisdom that the eighties finished off UK manufacturing, this is cheering to read. However, the UK currently only ranks 17th in competitativeness and is forecast to slide. The report identifies greater access to innovative IP and cutting edge research as essential to halt this decline.
From their release: Simon Bradley, vice-president of EADS, said to gain greater access to universities’ knowledge, ideas and creativity was vital for manufacturing: “Our Taskforce has found that the simple act of universities opening their vast knowledge banks and providing free access to their intellectual property would have the single biggest impact on accelerating the capability and growth of smart manufacturing in the country.”
This is where open access to articles and data cuts into the “real world” and benefits can be seen outside the research community.
Some sceptical publishers continue to argue against Green OA and for locking down copyright on the grounds of (unproven) economic impacts on their business. Open Access journals, while developing, are still far from the norm: “hybrid” journals continue to charge high fees on top of their continuing subscription costs. The response from much of the publishing world has been to see open access as an additional profit line, or as something to allow by exception, rather than a recognition of a different and new way of working and of OA as playing a part in a far larger working environment.
This report highlights that there is an economic world outside the publishing industry too, and one which is crying out for the benefits of OA.
Given the potential for open access to research to benefit this wider economic picture, as well as collaborative developments between research institutes and industry, restrictive arguments become increasingly untenable. If funders want OA, researchers want OA, institutions want OA and industry wants OA, why are some publisher’s contracts still stopping this from happening?