Oxford Administrators Want OA Policy Removed from REF 2029. I Have an Even Better Idea. - The Scholarly Kitchen

peter.suber's bookmarks 2024-06-17


"While all of these arguments will, I hope, become grist for interesting and useful discussions about REF 2029 and the future of government-mandated OA in the UK and elsewhere, I was particularly struck by the first one, which surfaces an issue too frequently elided in debates about OA mandates: the cost of enforcement.

Two things are important to note here.

First, the authors of this post oppose neither OA nor OA mandates (they explicitly recognize “our national obligations to OA”). So they’re not saying the “OA burden” shouldn’t exist; they’re saying the burden should be borne by others. Their position is that OA requirements “are more logically driven through UK funder mandates attached to individual research projects” than by REF requirements imposed on research institutions. They assert that “the removal of an OA policy from REF 2029 will, in a simple single act, excise complex and costly bureaucracy for all concerned” – but of course, their proposed solution does not “excise” the costs; it reassigns them. If the responsibility for monitoring and enforcing compliance is shifted from the funded institution to the funding agency, then the costs of a monitoring and enforcement regime move with it. Now obviously, in the proposed scenario a funder could reduce bureaucratic cost by taking a casual approach to enforcement, making compliance mandatory in theory but enforcing it only gently or sporadically in practice – in other words, reducing enforcement costs by reducing enforcement. This “nonmandatory mandate” approach is available to funding agencies; it would not, however, be available to research institutions if they are charged with enforcement, and therefore must be concerned about the compliance of all their potential REF submissions.

Second, this situation raises an issue that has not, to my knowledge, yet been seriously addressed in discussions of mandatory OA policies: even if (as many argue) the cost to the system as a whole of universal OA publishing would be no greater than the cost of toll-access publishing, the cost of implementing and managing mandatory OA policies – in other words, the administrative cost of removing choice from authors – is an entirely new one, conjured by the requirements of ideological orthodoxy. On the other hand, to the degree that authors’ agency is preserved, these costs don’t arise because no enforcement is required.*

And all of this, of course, leads logically to a truly simple (and, I think, admirably effective) way of actually avoiding these costs altogether: leave authors free to decide for themselves where and how they will publish their research results. Effective coercion is expensive...."



From feeds:

Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) » peter.suber's bookmarks


oa.new oa.uk oa.assessment oa.ref oa.recommendations oa.objections oa.debates oa.policies oa.mandates

Date tagged:

06/17/2024, 15:40

Date published:

06/17/2024, 11:40