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 outputs. Fred Friend Honorary Director Scholarly Communication UCL http://www.friendofopenaccess.org.uk 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" http://uksg.metapress.com/content/e062u112h295h114/fulltext.html Fuller hyperlinked version of this posting: http://openaccess.eprints.org/index.php?/archives/956-guid.html 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 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- _______________________________________________ GOAL mailing list GOAL@eprints.org http://mailman.ecs.soton.ac.uk/mailman/listinfo/goal
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