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A Press Notice was released on 10th December, announcing a Parliamentary Inquiry into scientific publications by the Science and Technology Committee. The Committee will be looking into issues of access to scientific journals by the UK research community, focussing on issues of price and availability. Of concern are actions which need to be taken to ensure a competitive market for scientific publications - and the effect of "big deals" on libraries and their university's research communities. Of particular interest to the field of Open Access is consideration of the trend for open access journals and the development of electronic access. It is interesting to note that this point has been tied directly to the RAE.
In announcing the inquiry, the Chairman of the Committee, Ian Gibson MP, said "Journals are at the heart of the scientific process. Researchers, teachers and students must have easy access to scientific publications at a fair price. Scientific journals need to maintain their credibility and integrity as they move into the age of e-publication. The Committee will have some very tough questions for publishers, libraries and government on these issues."
The Committee would welcome written evidence from interested organisations and individuals addressing these points. Evidence should be submitted by Thursday 12 February 2003. The oral evidence sessions will begin in March.