RSC Gold for Gold is ‘ingenious’ says UK Minister for Science

The Royal Society of Chemistry’s Gold for Gold open access initiative was declared ‘ingenious’ yesterday by David Willetts MP, UK Minister for Universities and Science.

The minister was giving evidence on open access to the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee. When asked for his view on so-called “double-dipping” – a concern that during the transition to full open access, UK institutions will be paying for both journal subscription fees and author publication charges – the minister held up RSC Gold for Gold as a shining example of a route to helping to overcome this issue.

He said: “There are some quite ingenious attempts to avoid [double-dipping], of which the Royal Society of Chemistry Gold for Gold scheme is one that we particularly welcome.”

Ron Egginton, Head of BBSRC and ESRC Team in the Research Funding Unit at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, also commended RSC Gold for Gold at the session.

He said: “The more that this type of thinking can be seen to permeate throughout the publishing industry, the better.”

Gold for Gold was launched last year, as an innovative experiment to support researchers as they begin the funder-led transition to Gold open access.

All research institutions who are ‘RSC Gold’ customers are provided with credits equal in value to their subscription payment to make their faculty’s papers available via the RSC’s Gold open access option. The RSC took this action to enable researchers who are being asked to publish open access, but who don’t always have the funding available to pay for it directly, to meet their funders’ requirements.

Following an exceedingly successful pilot in the UK during 2012, the RSC has now rolled out Gold for Gold internationally. During the first few months of 2013, more than 60 institutions in 13 countries have used Gold for Gold credits to publish their articles, including the University of Cambridge, UCLA and the University of Queensland.

Dr James Milne, RSC Publishing Managing Director said: “We are delighted that the minister has recognised the value of the RSC’s Gold for Gold initiative. His reference to the scheme yesterday really highlights the role that learned society publishers can play in supporting the scientific community’s engagement with open access.

“It’s reassuring to hear that government recognises that the costs of publishing in a mixed subscription/open access environment need to take into account the impact that the transition to full open access will have on different stakeholder budgets.”