Maximising the Return on UK's Public Investment in Research.
The United Kingdom is not yet maximising the return on its public investment in research. Research Councils UK (RCUK) spend £3.5 billion pounds annually. The UK produces at least 130,000 research journal articles per year, but if it is worth funding and doing at all, research must be not only published, but used, applied and built upon by other researchers (‘citation impact’). The online-age practice of self-archiving has been shown to increase citation impact by a dramatic 50-250%, but so far only 15% of researchers are doing it spontaneously. Citation impact is rewarded by universities (through promotions and salary increases) and by research-funders like RCUK (through grant funding and renewal) at a conservative estimate of £46 per citation. If we multiply this by the 85% of the UK's annual journal article output that is not yet self-archived, this translates into an annual loss of £2,541,500 in revenue to UK researchers for not having done (or delegated) the few extra keystrokes per article it would have taken to self-archive their final drafts. But this impact loss translates into a far bigger one for the British public, if we reckon it as the loss of potential returns on its research investment. As a proportion of the RCUK’s yearly £3.5bn research expenditure (yielding 130,000 articles x 5.6 = 761,600 citations), our conservative estimate would be 50% x 85% x £3.5.bn = £1.5bn worth of loss in potential research impact(323,680 potential citations lost). The solution is obvious, and it is the one the RCUK is proposing: to extend the existing universal 'publish or perish' requirement to 'publish and also self-archive your final draft on your institutional website'. The time to close this 50%-250% research impact gap is already well overdue. This is the historic moment for the UK to set an example for the world, showing how to maximise the return on the public investment in research in the online era.
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