The reality of open access – Physics World
peter.suber's bookmarks 2021-08-28
"After the report was published in June 2012, the UK government “widely accepted” its recommendations, which included favouring what is known as “gold” open access over “green”. Rather than it being free to publish a paper, gold involves an author paying an upfront article processing charge (APC) to the publisher to make the final version of the paper immediately available on an open-access basis and with the author having extensive rights of reuse. Green, meanwhile, refers to a published paper being initially placed behind a publisher’s paywall but where – after a certain embargo period of typically 12 months or more – the researcher is then allowed to place the accepted manuscript in a centralized free-to-access repository (see figure 1). According to analysis by Stevan Harnad of the University of Southampton, currently about 33% of all papers in physics are in some way free to read online, with the vast majority (32% of the total) being green (1% being gold). Based on the number of articles indexed by Thomson Reuters’ Web of Science database, this would amount to around 40,500 articles in physics being open access.
The Finch report also recommended that if a particular journal did not support gold publication, researchers would be required to place their accepted manuscripts in a free repository within six months of publication. If funding is not provided for gold publication, publishers could extend the embargo period before papers can be made freely available from six months to 12....
Peter Suber, director of Harvard University’s Office for Scholarly Communication who is also director of the Harvard Open Access Project – an initiative to foster open access – goes further, calling the UK policy a “mistake”. He claims that Finch recommended gold open access to secure the so-far successful business model for publishers that would be guaranteed a payment through the APC.
Suber suggests that while block grants may be intended to introduce price competition and keep APCs at a reasonable level, a problem may originate where there is not enough money to fully cover UK research following the gold route. “This will cause resentment and anger for people who can’t publish,” says Suber, although it will still be possible to publish free in conventional subscription-only journals. But Suber has two related concerns. “One is that policy-makers already think, ‘open access is good, therefore the RCUK policy is good’. The other is that researchers will soon think, ‘the RCUK policy is bad, therefore open access is bad’.” Such a view is shared by Concordia University physicist John Harnad, who is also director of the mathematical physics lab based at Centre de Recherches Mathématiques in Montreal. “This is not in the interests of science or scientists who now face a reduction in funding to pay publishers instead.” Harnad adds that the UK policy is a “really poor development” that is “off the tracks”. ..."