UW Statement of Position: APRIL 27, 2007
The primary mission of the University of Washington is the advancement, dissemination, and preservation of knowledge. Members of the University community make the world a better place by seeking and discovering timely solutions to the world’s most complex problems, while recognizing and meeting its special obligations as a public university to improve the lives of Washingtonians through knowledge and discovery.
One of the primary ways in which the University fulfills its mission is by disseminating research results to specialist audiences and to the public – customarily through scholarly journals, as well as other channels. Access for its researchers to a wide range of scholarly and research literature is fundamental to the success of the research enterprise at the University, as is the ability to share research findings widely with all who could use and benefit from it – including other scholars worldwide who would use them to speed the process of discovery. Such access is increasingly at risk because of the market power of a few large commercial publishers and their journal pricing policies, and the resulting financial pressure also has led libraries to divert funds from the purchase of the scholarly monographs that are fundamental to scholarly exchange in many disciplines.
Within the last couple of years a movement toward “open access” to research results and other scholarly materials has emerged that shows great promise for helping to foster communication within the research community and disseminate research results to the public – as well as to help control the negative impact of market forces. In general, this movement is consistent with the mission and goals of the University, and should be supported. However, it is essential that rigorous peer review remain a critical element of open access policies. Those who conduct research and other scholarly work and seek publication of the results, as well as the ‘end users’ of such information (e.g., other researchers, policy-makers, and the public), have an abiding interest in ensuring that the published products of research and scholarship are of the highest quality; peer review remains the best way to ensure that quality is not compromised in efforts to seek more open and timely publication of results.
The University also recognizes the important role that scientific and scholarly societies play in nurturing discovery and scientific progress and fostering the publication of research findings, while realizing that they also depend on journal subscription revenues for financial viability. It is imperative that the open access process allow for transition to business models that will allow societies to maintain their vital roles in fostering discovery and dissemination of research findings while also providing timely, unrestricted access to their scientific and scholarly journals.
Finally, the University is supportive of the concept that the findings of all federally funded research should be made available to the public free of charge, and encourages all scholars and researchers to work toward the objective of rapid, free, voluntary dissemination of scholarly works to their peers and the public-at-large through open-access publications, after appropriate peer-review.