Between 1 January 2014 and 30 April 2015, there were 18 meetings between officials from the UK’s Department of Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) – the department with responsibility for higher education and research funding – and publishers.
On 6 May 2015 I sent a Freedom of Information request to BIS asking the following:
‘I would like information regarding any meetings between BIS officials and representatives from academic publishers, from 1 January 2014 to date, to include:
- dates of meetings
- agendas / topics for discussion
- names of those present
- minutes / notes / records of the meetings’
They responded within the legally required timeframe on 4 June. The full response is available to view on whatdotheyknow.com. BIS were unable to provide much information regarding the meetings, but we can see that they were mostly with Elsevier (10), Wiley (2), or the Publishers Association (3). The other three meetings were not private meetings.
Of the 10 meetings with Elsevier, four were regarding the work which Elsevier’s research division undertook for BIS on the report International Comparative Performance of the UK Research Base. In early 2014 there were three meetings with Ron Egginton (former policy adviser to David Willetts, and Head of the BBSRC and the ESRC Team, Research Funding Unit, BIS). There is no record of what was discussed. There were a further three later meetings about open access with more junior officials. Again, there is no record of what was discussed beyond the high-level agenda items – ‘open access policy and implementation’, ‘open access to research’, and ‘open access to data’.