The Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings (‘Finch Group’) was set up in October 2011 to examine how UK-funded research ﬁndings can be made more accessible. This independent group was tasked with proposing 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 completed its task in June 2012, and its report can be found here.
The group emerged from transparency discussions initiated at a high level round table meeting, in March 2011, by the Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities and Science. It was made up of representatives of the HE sector, research funders, the research community, scholarly publishers, and libraries. It was 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 took into account parallel work relating to research data and other outputs being conducted by the Royal Society. It adopted an evidence-based approach to its work. It operated collaboratively and so far as possible sought to achieve consensus. Where that was not possible, it identified precise points of difference. It also sought 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 took account of relevant policies and practice in other countries, and proposed a programme of action for all interested parties in the UK, contained in its final report.
In its deliberations, the group drew on the expertise of thee specialist sub-groups, which examinedkey issues of principle and practice that would be involved in increasing access to published outputs via the routes of, respectively, (i) greater take-up of open-access publishing, (ii) open-access repositories and (iii) development of national licensing.
The group’s work was supported by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills; the Publishers Association; Research Councils UK; and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (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 provided the group’s secretariat and research function.
The group’s terms of reference and the list of its members are attached below. It met on the following dates:
- 17 October 2011 – minutes below
- 1 December 2011 – minutes below
- 22 February 2012 – minutes below
- 27 April 2012 – minutes below
- 17 May 2012 – minutes below
18 June 2012