Alex Bols: Opening Up Access to UK Research: Gold, Green and Shades of Grey 2013-05-03


"UK university research is world-class. Second-only to the United States for high quality research; UK researchers produce 1 in 4 of the most cited arts and humanities articles ; the UK has produced over 100 Nobel laureates. In many cases this research is publicly funded. It is therefore easy to understand the Government's arguments that this publicly funded research should be publicly available. But as with most things in life it is not quite that simple, and greater nuance is needed ... The Government has bought into the Gold model wholesale. By 2019-20, Research Councils UK (RCUK) expects 75% of UK research papers to be released in Gold OA. Alongside this expectation, RCUK now expects that all Gold OA research should be released under a CC-BY license--opening up the research to free commercial use--and that any Green embargo periods should be shorter than 12 months for arts and social sciences research and 6 months for everything else.  In evidence to the BIS Select Committee's hearing on Open Access (16th April 2013), Dr Alma Swan outlined the relative costs of both models, arguing that the average cost of Gold OA was twelve times that of Green, whereas for research intensive universities Gold would be up to twenty five times as costly ... Academic research should electrify the public, and for this very reason the 1994 Group of research-intensive universities remains deeply committed to the principles of OA. As the Group's Executive Director, I am continually reminded of our academics' passion and commitment to pushing the boundaries of knowledge and improving people's lives. More than anyone, we would like to see the UK's researchers' ideas and discoveries feed into the public discourse.  However whilst it is important to lead the global Open Access debate, we should not jeopardize our research excellence in the process.  Firstly there must be greater recognition of the differences across academic disciplines.  We share the concern of a number of learned societies in these fields, including the British Academy, the Royal Historical Society, the Academy of Social Sciences, and the Political Studies Association that the focus on the Gold model does not adequately reflect the needs of these disciplines ... We believe that a 36-month embargo period is more appropriate for research funded by the AHRC and ESRC where OA will otherwise likely take longer to achieve ... We are concerned by the assumption that there is no need for an exemption for international and foreign language publications ... Until there is much more widespread adoption of OAs overseas, we believe that there should be a general presumption that work published overseas is exempt from the OA requirement. This exemption should apply both to UK researchers whose disciplines make publishing overseas the most appropriate mode of transmission, and to overseas academics applying for positions in the UK.  This distinction was acknowledged in HEFCE's evidence to the Select Committee - David Sweeney said that these researchers would not be disadvantaged, though he did not say what implications this would have for future REFs, which are mandating OA.  He did not address the vexed issue of publishing the outputs of international collaborations between scholars. RCUK have recently confirmed that it would be the responsibility of the UK funded researcher to ensure compliance, regardless of the number of collaborators, but the practicalities of this are causing widespread concern across the sector.  The policy will also damage the publication prospects of academics who regularly co-author papers with a non-UK-funded researchers, as is standard in disciplines where international fieldwork is necessary, like volcanology, zoology, and anthropology ... It is important to consider the impact of the licence republication of their research. For example, institutions might favour restrictions on commercial use (as provided by a CC BY-NC licence, which allows for non-commercial republication and derivative works). This is a particular concern for researchers in arts, humanities and social sciences, who will rarely be able to invoke patents to ensure that they retain the benefits from commercial exploitation of their work.  We believe that the Research Councils' expectation of CC- BY licences is misguided, and that CC BY-NC-ND licences, which permit non-commercial republication, are adequate to achieve the aims of Open Access ... We are pleased that HEFCE is proposing to allow research published under both 'Green' and 'Gold' models of access to be eligible for post-2014 REFs. We believe that given that there is considerable uncertainty as to the future of research publication, and how other countries will move to OA (if at all), this is a sensible, cautious approach. RCUK's expectation that compliance levels with Gold OA will reach around 75% by 2018 suggests that Green OA will be considered


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Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) »

Tags: oa.licensing oa.comment oa.mandates oa.copyright oa.societies oa.costs oa.funders oa.fees oa.embargoes oa.rcuk oa.disciplines oa.debates oa.hefce oa.ref oa.rhs oa.repositories oa.libre oa.policies oa.journals

Date tagged:

05/03/2013, 10:20

Date published:

05/03/2013, 06:20