UKSG eNews: The Open Access Debate's bookmarks 2012-09-14


The open access (OA) debate has been ongoing in the UK and around the world for over ten years now. It bursts into activity occasionally as a new report is issued or a policy announced, but rarely have we seen as sustained a period of discussion as took place over the summer.  The starting point, of course, was the Finch Report and its recommendation that we focus our attention on the Gold route through OA journals. One feature of the Finch Report was that it looked in detail at how the UK might manage a transition to OA in a world that was not moving at a constant rate. With the UK producing about 6% of the world’s research literature, do we face a problem whereby we pay OA publication fees to make UK research available to all while still having to pay subscription fees to gain access to the world’s literature? Finch modelled this transition and concluded that there may be a temporary increase in the system costs as we go through the transition. (Headline writers have put the transition costs at up to £60 million a year, but the report is actually more nuanced in its scenarios than this figure might suggest.)  The Government, and specifically David Willitts in the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills who commissioned the report, broadly welcomed the recommendations in a statement that confirmed the Government’s commitment to the principles of OA, but significantly did not promise any additional money to help during the transition period.  It was this lack of extra cash that RLUK and SCONUL highlighted in their joint response to the BIS Statement. We indicated that we were "disappointed [...] that the Government has not announced any new funding to facilitate the transition, but has assumed that any additional transition costs will be met out of existing budgets.  This can only act to slow the rate of transition and to reduce the budget available for new research."  It is clear that Mr Willetts does not like to see a disappointed librarian as last week at the British Science Festival he announced an extra £10 million will be made availableto "help universities with the transition to open access to publicly-funded research ...  So, is it all good news? Well, additional money is always welcome. However, I do have concerns as to the manner in which it is spent. One of the contributing factors to the serials crisis over the past three decades has been the disconnect between readers and the prices of journals. Academics say ‘we must have journals X, Y, and Z’ but often leave the job of finding the funds to pay for those journals to the library. They do not care if the annual price rises for those journals are well above inflation or budget increases - they need the journals. This has led to higher and higher prices and a 'market' where there is little correlation between a journal’s price and the quality of the papers it publishes.  A potential benefit of OA and article processing charges (APCs) is that the researchers are now exposed to the costs of publication. They can make decisions based on pricing information - information that researchers as subscribers have never been exposed to...  That is unless we create systems in our universities that engender a disconnect between authors and the prices. Central funds, for example, which pay the fees on behalf of authors without any of the consequences of the authors’ decisions coming back to the authors... In an environment of author-APCs disconnect then pumping extra money into the system will result in higher costs as many publishers will naturally increase their APCs to 'mop up' the extra cash. My fear with this additional £10 million is that we are pumping money into a transitional system without first ensuring that we have a true market in place. Having lived through the serials crisis we have a duty to ensure that we do not create the conditions for an 'APCs Crisis' ... “


From feeds:

Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) »'s bookmarks
Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) »

Tags: oa.policies oa.rcuk oa.davidprosser oa.comment oa.government oa.libass oa.libraries oa.impact oa.costs oa.prestige oa.librarians oa.prices oa.funders oa.recommendations oa.funds oa.sconul oa.budgets oa.debates oa.rluk oa.finch_report oa.fees oa.repositories oa.journals

Date tagged:

09/14/2012, 11:42

Date published:

09/14/2012, 12:11