I read Martin Hall’s defence of the Finch Group Recommendations very carefully, 
because one curious feature of this episode in the development of open access 
in the UK is the way in which previously staunch defenders of open access 
through repositories who were members of the Finch Group have signed up to a 
Report which only allocates roles in preservation and data storage to 
repositories, removing the role of access to published research reports they 
previously shared with journals. The key objection Martin Hall has to an open 
access policy based around repositories is “their main limitations are that 
they do not – and cannot – contain everything. In particular, they cannot 
contain the ‘version of record’ when this is protected by a copyright that has 
been ceded to a publisher, and the publisher requires payment to view the 
paper, either via a journal subscription paid by an individual or an 
institution, or by means of a ‘pay-to-view’ charge via a commercial website.” 
In response it can be argued that repositories have never claimed to contain 
all versions of record, but that is not to say that they could not do so. 
Behind Martin Hall’s statement is a view of scholarly communication which 
allocates responsibility for the “version of record” uniquely to publishers. 
There is nothing that a publisher does to an author’s manuscript in respect of 
peer-review or copy-editing than could not be done by a repository out-sourcing 
such services probably at less cost than the cost of an average publisher’s 
APC. (N.B. Such a solution may appear radical but it is common in other areas.) 
Martin Hall’s statement also indicates an acceptance of the situation in which 
all rights are transferred from an author to a publisher. Neither Martin Hall 
nor the Finch Group as a whole have suggested the very feasible solution of 
funders requiring authors to retain certain rights for public benefit while 
still giving a publisher the right to publish. Such a recommendation from the 
Finch Group would have removed the limitation for repositories to provide text- 
and data-mining services which Martin sees as a reason not to support the 
deposit of journal articles in repositories. 

If the argument for not supporting repository development is weak, the argument 
for supporting a preference for gold open access is even weaker. (N.B. what 
follows should not be read as opposing all open access journal publication, 
merely the perverse policy to make journals the primary route to open access.) 
The argument put forward in the Finch Report is not only that repositories 
cannot provide a high-quality sustainable service but also that even if they 
could, a publisher-led approach is desirable. No evidence is put forward to 
support this key point in the Finch Report. The case for a transition to gold 
open access is not evidence-based but based upon a perceived threat to the 
publishing industry from any policy which gives a substantial role to 
repositories as an alternative source of supply of research articles. The case 
for “sustainability” presented in the Finch Report is a case for sustainability 
of the publishing industry, including the use of profits from journals to 
sustain the activities of academic societies. Is there any other industry able 
to obtain that level of subsidised protection from a government which - in hard 
economic times - is willing to pay many millions of pounds in author 
publication charges to the industry receiving the protection in order to 
provide that protection? The UK Government payments will ensure open access to 
a proportion of UK research outputs but will place a heavy and unnecessary 
burden upon the research budget for only a partial solution to the provision of 
open access. In relation to the cost of gold open access the Finch Report 
rightly mentions the importance of the extent to which other countries adopt 
the same policy as the UK, but the optimism on this point in the Report is 
clearly misplaced and represents a huge gamble not only with taxpayer funds but 
also with the UK researchers’ relationship with their peers in other countries. 

There are many other points to be made as comments upon Martin Hall’s article 
and upon the Finch Report, including the points made by Stevan Harnad below. As 
a result of reading Martin’s article and re-reading the Finch Report I am no 
further forward in understanding how the open access advocates on the Finch 
Group could have signed up to the Report, even though they may have been 
out-voted by the publisher and society members. I was involved in much of the 
work cited in the Finch Report, work which can be used as evidence of the 
background to the issues, but nowhere have I been involved in or come across 
independent evidence which could be used to justify the twin key 
recommendations of a preference for gold open access and a limitation upon the 
role of repositories in providing open access to publicly-funded research 

Fred Friend
Honorary Director Scholarly Communication UCL


From: Stevan Harnad 
Sent: Saturday, November 10, 2012 12:55 PM
To: Global Open Access List (Successor of AmSci) 
Subject: [GOAL] Martin Hall's Defence of the UK Finch Committee 
Recommendations: Green or Gold? Open Access After Finch

Martin Hall: "Green or Gold? Open Access After Finch" 

Fuller hyperlinked version of this posting: 

The substance of Martin Hall's defence of the Finch recommendation that the UK 
should (double-)pay for Gold instead of strengthening its mandate for Green is 
that (1) Gold provides the publisher's version of record, rather than just the 
author's peer-reviewed final draft, that (2) Gold provides text-mining rights 
and that (3) Gold is the way to solve the journal price problem.

What Hall does not even consider is whether the publisher's version of record 
and text-mining rights are worth the asking price of Gold, compared to 
cost-free Green. His account (like everyone else's) is also astonishingly vague 
and fuzzy about how the transition to Gold is to take place in the UK. And Hall 
(like Finch) completely fails to take the rest of the world into account. All 
the reckoning about the future of publishing is based on the UK's policy for 
its 6%.

Hall quotes Peter Suber's objection but does not answer it. The Swan/Houghton 
economic analyses, too, are cited by Hall, as if in support, but in fact not 
heeded at all.

Stevan Harnad

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