Open and Shut?: The OA Interviews: Martin Hall, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Salford, and member of the Finch Committee on OA 2012-07-24


Use the link to access the complete introduction and the transcript of the interview. An excerpt reads as follows: “The past month has seen a flurry of activity in the Open Access (OA) space, most of it focused on the UK. Events were triggered by the publication on 18th June of the eagerly awaited Finch Report... the Committee concluded that a clear policy direction should be set towards supporting publication in gold OA or hybrid journals, funded by APCs, as the main vehicle for the publication of research. To understand the reaction that the Committee’s proposals have received from some in the research community we need to remember that when the OA movement was born — with the 2004 Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) — two complementary strategies were agreed: BOAI-1 and BOAI-2, now more usually referred to as green OA (self-archiving) and gold OA (OA journals)... What was radical (and surprising) about the Finch Report was that it proposed abandoning BOAI’s double-pronged strategy in favour of an exclusively gold approach. As such, it downgraded green OA and institutional repositories to bit players merely, ‘providing access to research data and to grey literature’ and assisting in digital preservation. Where self-archiving did continue to take place, Finch suggested, it would be unfair on publishers if the papers they published were self-archived before a 12-month embargo had elapsed (except where the publisher provided no mechanism to pay for gold OA). The report sparked a firestorm of protest, with many researchers bridling at the thought of having to pay to publish all their papers, and green OA advocates expressing dismay that all the time and hard work that had been put into building a network of institutional repositories, had been so casually dismissed. It did not help that Finch estimated its proposals would cost the UK research community an additional £50-60 million a year. Since in the current economic climate there is no hope of receiving additional funding from the UK government, universities would have to find these extra costs from their existing budgets.  Moreover, as the cost burden would primarily fall on the Russell Group universities, the Report has proved somewhat divisive. Discontent was fuelled further by the publication on July 5th of a report commissioned by the UK Open Access Implementation Group (OAIG). This revealed that green OA could provide a much more cost-effective route to OA than gold. Specifically, the report concluded, if the UK undertook a unilateral move to gold OAthe cost to large research intensive institutions (i.e. Russell Group universities) would be about £1.7 million a year. A unilateral move to green OA, by contrast, would cost them only around £100,000 a year. These turbulent waters were further muddied on July 16th, when Research Councils UK (RCUK) announced its new OA policy. RCUK had ignored the Finch recommendations, reinstating green OA as an equal partner to gold, and insisting that publishers be given no more than a 6-month embargo (except for humanities and social science papers). In fact, suggested OA advocate Peter Suber, the RCUK policy reverses Finch, favouring green over gold. And where RCUK makes clear what CC licences should be used, Suber added, Finch is vague ‘about what license to require (or what reuse rights to demand) when taxpayers pay the costs of publication.’ Then to cap it all, the next day (17th July) the European Commission issued a Communication proposing a Europe-wide OA strategy that essentially mimics the RCUK policy... OA advocates like Stevan Harnad, for instance, have suggested that the Committee succumbed to lobbying by publishers... By contrast, there were no publishers involved in the RCUK decision. As Suber put it, ‘All the decision-makers were RCUK officials whose mission is to fund research with public money in the public interest.’ The virulence of the criticism appears to have caught committee members by surprise...”



08/16/2012, 06:08

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Tags: oa.business_models oa.publishers oa.mining oa.comment oa.government oa.mandates oa.universities oa.declarations oa.costs oa.boai oa.funders oa.fees oa.wellcome oa.embargoes oa.rcuk oa.recommendations oa.studies oa.russell_group oa.budgets oa.grey oa.finch_report oa.hefce oa.oaig oa.europe oa.repositories oa.hei oa.policies oa.journals



Date tagged:

07/24/2012, 07:14

Date published:

07/24/2012, 07:40