The government is to unveil controversial plans to make publicly funded scientific research immediately available for anyone to read for free by 2014.The specific approach is to require researchers to pay journals a fee upon acceptance of their work. As I noted in an earlier post, at the moment Universities pay journals anyway, they just do it in the form of subscription fees. So this move is a good one, and to be applauded in making science more accessible to the general public.
There are only two problems with this plan. The first is that there are no proposed increases in the research budget; while this should be made up in reallocating existing University budgets, there's no guarantee of this. A bigger one is that this constraint will only apply within the UK. Hopefully it will bring pressure on other countries to follow suit; but as long as the UK is alone, it will effectively be subsidising the research of other nations. (Many if not most journals present research from many countries, so they will still have to be paid for.)
Still, these drawbacks should not outweigh the benefits and, in any case, should only be temporary. So I'll raise a glass to the government---for one day, at least!