[Open-access] Open Access in the UK: Reinventing the Big Deal

Richard Poynder ricky at richardpoynder.co.uk
Tue Oct 2 10:16:25 UTC 2012

Love it or loathe it, the recently announced Open Access policy from
Research Councils UK has certainly divided the OA movement. Despite
considerable criticism, however, RCUK has refused to amend its policy.


So what will be its long-term impact? 


Critics fear that RCUK has opened the door to the reinvention of the Big
Deal. Pioneered by Academic Press in 1996, the Big Deal involves publishers
selling large bundles of electronic journals on multi-year contracts.
Initially embraced with enthusiasm, the Big Deal is widely loathed today. 


However, currently drowned out by the hubbub of criticism, there are voices
that support the RCUK policy. Jan Velterop, for instance, believes it will
be good for Open Access.


Velterop also believes that the time is ripe for the creation of a New Big
Deal (NBD). The NBD would consist of "a national licensing agreement" that
provided researchers with free-at-the-point-of-use access to all the papers
sitting behind subscription paywalls, *plus* a "national procurement
service" that provided free-at-the-point-of-use OA publishing services for
researchers, allowing them to publish in OA journals without having to foot
the bill themselves.  


Velterop's views are not to be dismissed lightly. Former employee of
Elsevier, Springer and Nature, Velterop was one of the small group of people
who attended the 2001 Budapest meeting that saw the birth of the Open Access
movement, and he was instrumental in the early success of OA publisher
BioMed Central. 


Moreover, during his time at Academic Press, Velterop was a co-architect of
the original Big Deal.


More on this, and a Q&A with Velterop, can be read here:






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