'Crucial time' for OA monographs | Research Information
flavoursofopenscience's bookmarks 2021-10-21
'Elitist world' discriminating against humanities must be avoided at all costs, write Martin Eve and Anthony Cond
In many ways, 2021 has been the year of the ‘starting pistol’ for open-access books. UKRI announced its mandate will take effect from 2024. The ‘Plan S’ group of funders also launched its principles for OA for monographs. We await the REF consultation on open access.
The REF review, in the UK context, will be far more significant than the UKRI announcement. If all books submitted to REF must be openly accessible, this will account for a far greater proportion of the UK’s humanities research than the project-funded outputs.
However, one of the core problems with such mandates is that the business models to support these models are flawed. Book Processing Charges of over £10,000 per book will not scale. Our recent estimate of the costs to make 75% of REF books open access was £19.2m per year. Such extra investment is not forthcoming. Further, this money is not, currently, in the system in the right places. It is all very well when a researcher has a grant that can cover such charges. Such cases, in the humanities disciplines, though, are few and far between. In the UK context, but with overseas analogies, most research in these disciplines is subsidised by QR rather than project funding. Hence the importance of the REF review.
The COPIM initiative, funded by Research England and Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, has been working on another model: Opening the Future. This model, adopted by Liverpool University Press and the Central European University Press, works by libraries purchasing a set of backlist titles (that are not openly accessible) and the presses then using this revenue to make future frontlist titles open access. This means that libraries with only a traditional book purchasing budget (and not an “open access budget”) can also participate, which traditionally is not the case. The important point here is that we are attempting to repurpose existing budgets.