The Big APC Question Mark Hovering Over the OSTP Announcement | Jeff Pooley
peter.suber's bookmarks 2022-08-27
by Jeff Pooley
From yesterday’s blockbuster White House announcement on immediate OA for federally funded research:
Improving public access policies across the U.S. government to promote the rapid sharing of federally funded research data with appropriate protections and accountability measures will allow for greater validity of research results and more equitable access to data resources aligned with these ideals. To promote equity and advance the work of restoring the public’s trust in Government science, and to advance American scientific leadership, now is the time to amend federal policy to deliver immediate public access to federally funded research.
The no-embargo guidance, to be implemented by federal funding agencies over the next couple of years, is a huge win, full stop. SPARC North America and the ARL are right to celebrate the news. It is, in effect, a single-memo Plan (U.)S.
Still: the unintended consequences. Without lots of vigilance and careful policy revision, the edict—to be implemented across many agencies—could end up enthroning the article processing charge (APC).
Here’s the basic problem. As a growing number of studies document, most of the world’s academic authors (including most humanities and social science authors in the U.S.) can’t afford the often-usurious fees. The APC model, with its tolled access to authorship, is the subscription model seen through a camera obscura: author paywalls in place of reading paywalls. Thus the prevailing APC regime fixes one barrier to access, for readers, by erecting another, for authors.
The big risk is that the new policy will inadvertently crown the author-excluding APC. Thanks to the aggressive, profit-protecting moves of the big five publishers as well as some friendly fire from the Europeans’ Plan S, the APC is already in the pole position. Rich North American universities and well-heeled European nations have been signing so-called “read-and-publish” deals with the publishers for years now—deals that cover APCs for their faculty alone. In the last two years the pace of deal-making has picking up, under the “transformative agreement” euphemism—starving library budgets that could otherwise fund fee-free OA publishing. And since author fees are stitched into the deals, the approach serves to ratify—and secure in place—a scholarly publishing system underwritten by the APC.
From feeds:Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) » peter.suber's bookmarks
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