Academic research is, rightly, becoming easier to access. The potential benefits from giving companies, NHS staff, teachers, independent researchers and policymakers access to the latest research are enormous. But the change brings big challenges too, especially for the UK’s world-leading publishing industry.
At the moment, the UK’s support for ‘gold open access’ risks giving the rest of the world our research without matching reciprocal benefits. This paper argues for a national licence scheme, which would provide online access to academic research from across the world free at the point of use to everyone in the UK. That could be the best way to deliver a sustainable approach to extending access that is in the UK’s national interest.