At the recent HEPI / Taylor and Francis roundtable dinner on open access and evidence-informed policymaking, there was much constructive and energised discussion about how to ensure closer interactions between research and public policy. As someone who has spent more than a decade working to strengthen engagement between research and public policy, I come at this from within the ‘third space’ Matt Flinders identified in his recent HEPI blog.
Reflecting on the implications of open access research for increasing evidence-informed policymaking, it does seem important to recognise the great progress that has been made in opening up research to much larger audiences, including policy audiences. UCL has certainly seen access to and use of our research outputs significantly increase as a result. UCL Press – the first fully open-access university press in UK – has seen six million downloads of its monographs since it was launched in 2015, a number far outweighing what would be expected in terms of hard-copy sales, while citations of UCL research outputs have increased as more of them have become open access. Thus, open access starts to address the commonly expressed problem among policy communities: that they are unable to access academic research papers behind journal paywalls.