UK plan for open access to research is a golden opportunity, not a cost 2012-07-24


“The government's response to the Finch Report on open access to the results of publicly funded research and the announcement of how it will be implemented by the UK Research Councils (RCUK) have elicited a wide range of reactions... The responses published in the letters page of the Guardian on 18 July (Open access plan is no academic spring) took a uniformly negative view, in large part because of misapprehensions about the recommendations of the report and their implementation. I am delighted that open access is being discussed in such a public forum... but it is vital that we do so accurately... These concerns seem to arise largely from the £2,000 figure that was quoted as a typical APC in the original Guardian report, but it is not clear where this number has come from... In fact, the figure is lower. For papers funded by the Wellcome Trust the typical APC is more like £1,400. Even lower APCs are available, depending on the journal. PLoS ONE charges less than £900, while an innovative new open access journal, PeerJ, promises to be even cheaper. A close reading of the Finch Report reveals that the headline estimate of a £50m-60m excess transitional cost is predicated on an uncertain set of assumptions. A more optimistic model worked out by the committee suggested that the move to open access might even be cost neutral... However, the correspondents appear to have assumed that the government announcement has locked in a price structure that is generous to publishers. Clearly publishers' concerns had some sway with the Finch Committee... but it would be a mistake to see last week's policy shift as an end point. The research publishing business remains in ferment. It is important to realise that the revised RCUK policy goes significantly beyond Finch in terms of the concessions on copyright that research councils will require from publishers. RCUK is also keeping the door open for green open access ... There may be no new money but one should not overlook the money already in the system, which is currently paid to individual researchers to cover publication costs. This will now be transferred to institutional funds, which should in the long term be boosted as the move to open access frees up funds through the elimination of journal subscriptions currently paid by research libraries... This is new territory, but with control of the funds, research institutions should seize this opportunity to push for open access at the cheapest possible price. I would not wish to diminish the difficulties faced by UK research institutions in the shift to open access, but it is time for them to be as bold as the government. They can start by breaking their addiction to top-tier journals, which are likely to charge the highest APCs because publishers know that researchers and university managers continue to mis-apply journal reputations (quantified as impact factors) as a measure of the quality of individual researchers or their work. That culture shift will require will and imagination, which is why it was disappointing to see Professor Stephen Caddick of UCL espouse such a narrow focus on UK self-interest in his response to the government's announcement. He claimed that the government has argued that gold open access will ‘give us a competitive advantage’, but I cannot find any recent statement to this effect. To his credit, Willetts has kept in mind the wider view of science as an international endeavour... Arguably, the government's courageous stance on this issue serves national interest by marking the UK as a visionary place to do research. We are now seen as a leading voice in international moves towards open access. The UK may be taking a risk in jumping first but, given recent moves in the US and elsewhere in Europe, the chances of success look good.”



08/16/2012, 06:08

From feeds:

Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) »

Tags: oa.business_models oa.publishers oa.licensing oa.government oa.mandates oa.universities oa.copyright oa.libraries oa.plos oa.impact oa.costs oa.quality oa.prestige oa.funders oa.fees oa.wellcome oa.rcuk oa.recommendations oa.funds oa.budgets oa.finch_report oa.cancellations oa.peerj oa.comments oa.comment oa.repositories oa.hei oa.libre oa.policies oa.journals



Date tagged:

07/24/2012, 16:21

Date published:

07/24/2012, 16:42