The report of the UK Working Group on Expanding Access to Research Publications was based on the principle that the potential social and economic benefits of high-quality research could be maximized by making the published results freely and rapidly accessible, with minimal limitations on their use. We regarded this principle as compelling and fundamentally unanswerable. It is also widely accepted.
We also recognised that research communications are already in a period of transition towards open access. The aim was to find ways to accelerate that transition, but also to sustain what is valuable in a complex ecology with many different agents and stakeholders, by managing the transition in an orderly way.
Our strong view was and is that the UK should embrace the transition to open access. We do not believe that the status quo is stable, and also not that the process of change could or should be put into reverse. Rather, the Group recommended that we should seek to accelerate the process in a measured way, which promotes innovation but also sustains what is most valuable in the research communications system.