Open and Shut?: The Finch Report: UCL’s David Price Responds 2012-06-20


Use the link to access the transcript of the interview introduced as follows: “The much-awaited report from the Finch Committee was published today. The Committee, headed up by Dame Janet Finch, a sociologist at the University of Manchester, was set up last year by UK Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts, and tasked with establishing how access to research could be expanded. The good news: the Report recommends that all publicly funded research should be made freely available on an Open Access (OA) basis, and that the traditional model — which currently sees much research locked behind a subscription paywall — should be phased out. The bad news: the Report estimates that this will require the higher education sector to find an extra £50-60 million a year to disseminate its research. The bulk of this extra money will be needed in order to pay for researchers to publish in so-called Gold OA and Hybrid OA journals... These charges range from $305 to $3,930 per article, and are the price publishers demand for making research papers freely available on the Internet. Some have greeted the Report with enthusiasm. Sir Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, the world's second largest private funder, commented. ‘We are delighted that the Finch Report encourages the UK to embrace open access, something that we at the Wellcome Trust feel very strongly about. There is a real groundswell of opinion in support of open access in the UK, the USA, Europe and beyond and this is a real opportunity for the UK to lead the way.’ Others are far less enthusiastic, arguing that by failing to support and promote Green OA (aka self-archiving), the Committee missed an important opportunity to push for a more cost-effective solution... ‘The Finch Report is a successful case of lobbying by publishers to protect the interests of publishing at the expense of the interests of research and the public that funds research,’ argues University of Southampton cognitive scientist Stevan Harnad. ‘The Finch Report proposes doing precisely what the US Research Works Act (RWA) — since discredited and withdrawn — failed to do: to push ‘Green’ OA self-archiving (by authors, and Green OA self-archiving mandates by authors’ funders and institutions) off the UK policy agenda as inadequate and ineffective and, to boot, likely to destroy both publishing and peer review — and to replace them instead with a vague, slow evolution toward ‘Gold’ OA publishing, at the publishers’ pace and price.’ Whatever one’s views about the conclusions reached by the Finch Committee, and whatever one feels about the relative merits of Green and Gold OA (see herefor instance), if the Report’s recommendations are implemented it will put UK universities in a hard place. For it is they who will have to find much of the extra money needed, at a time when their budgets are already under huge pressure. Unsurprisingly, therefore the Vice-Provost (Research) at University College London (UCL) David Price is not best pleased. ‘The result of the Finch recommendations would be to cripple university systems with extra expense,’ he told me. ‘Finch is certainly a cure to the problem of access, but is it not a cure which is actually worse than the disease?’ Price’s message to David Willetts is simple: more work needs to be done to find an adequate solution. ‘Listen to UCL’s response to Finch and carry on talking to get the best transitional model from where we are now to a fully OA world,’ he suggests. ‘The Finch recommendations are only part of the answer.’”



08/16/2012, 06:08

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Tags: oa.business_models oa.publishers oa.policies oa.comment oa.government oa.usa oa.legislation oa.rwa oa.nih oa.universities oa.copyright oa.peer_review oa.costs oa.prices oa.hybrid oa.funders oa.fees oa.wellcome oa.embargoes oa.recommendations oa.budgets oa.finch_report oa.interviews oa.repositories oa.hei oa.journals



Date tagged:

06/20/2012, 21:21

Date published:

06/20/2012, 22:00