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- +Cameron Neylon "Stevan has generally argued from a public good perspective - more research available for researchers to read is a public good - rather than a technological or industrial policy perspective. RCUK and Finch are coming from a much more innovation and industry focussed perspective." I am not sure what industry Cameron is referring to here. Certainly, if Stevan is correct then the publishing industry has a great deal to gain from RCUK and Finch. However, I suspect he means that CC-BY can turn research papers into raw material that new businesses can use (by, for instance, mining their content). That's fine, but at what price?Jul 28, 2012
- DECLARATION OF INTERESTS
r@Thomas Pfeiffer wrote: "Until now I hadn't realized that the differences between preferring Gold or Green OA depended on the philosophical stance"
Thomas, I don't think the difference is a matter of philosophical stance. I think it depends on whose and what interests are motivating one's position on OA, Green OA and Gold OA.
I am happy to declare mine: They are the interests of research, researchers, and the general public whose taxes pay for the research and for whose ultimate benefit the research is funded and conducted.
To a certain extent, the R&D industry also figures in this equation, but primarily as a user and applier of the research, just like researchers, and hence as a net contributor to the public good -- not merely as another proprietary means of creating wealth for itself, in the way the research publishing industry is doing.
This applies especially to secondary content-based industries (e.g., Thomson-Reuters ISI, or Google or Connotea... or Mendeley) that now have a financial interest in "technologically enhancing" OA research output -- in much the same way that publishers stress that they are "technologically enhancing" their proprietary research content, in arguing that it should remain locked in their hands and continue to be paid for.
Ironically, the interests of the OA-content enhancing industry can generate surprising stances, such as favouring extra payment for Gold OA over cost-free Green OA because it buys a form of Libre OA that is necessary for their product or service. This is a direct conflict of interest with the interests of research, researchers, and the general public who funds the research and for whose ultimate benefit the research is funded and conducted.
Another ironic similarity between the interests of the content-enhancing industry is that they too, like the publishing industry, keep stressing that research -- both raw research and peer-reviewed research -- is "not free": Publishers stress this in defending the price of subscriptions or the price of Gold OA; content-enhancers stress this, again, in arguing for Gold OA payment for the Libre OA they need for their products and services. This is again in direct conflict of interest with the interests of research, researchers, and the general public who funds the research and in whose interest the research is being done. (It also makes no sense, because the costs in question are not the ones at issue: the publishing industry many times aired the canard that their access-tolls are somehow justified because the Internet is "not free"!)
I urge commentators, before they reply, to have another look at my short posting on PRIORITIES. Gold OA and Libre OA are secondarily beneficial to research, researchers and the public too, one because it may eventually reduce the proportion of potential research funds spent on publication instead of research, the other because it may eventually increase technologically the use and usefulness of research publication, communication and collaboration.
But both of these are potential secondary benefits of OA. The most important and urgent benefit of OA is the primary one: making research accessible to all of its potential users, not just to those who can afford subscription access. And that means Gratis, Green OA.
And that is why it is quite disappointing when OA advocates opt, today, for paid Gold OA over cost-free Green OA, or Libre OA over Gratis OA. They are opting for the eventual, potential secondary benefits of OA over the actual, primary and long overdue benefits of OA for research, researchers and the public.
And doubly ironic, because making sure Green Gratis OA is provided today, through global Green Gratis OA mandates by funders and institutions worldwide, is the fastest, surest and by far the most affordable way to get from the status quo today not only to the Gratis OA that will at long last fulfill the primary needs of research, researchers and the public today, but eventually also to the Libre and Gold OA that will fulfill the secondary needs and further potentials as well. Hence delaying or deterring the former in the service of the latter, by favouring paid Gold over cost-free Green, is a real head-shaker (to me, at least). and not a philosophical one...Jul 28, 2012
- Thank you,, for your detailed reply. Especially the reasoning about priorities and using Green OA for the transition from subscription to Gold OA makes sense to me.
Two things are still not clear to me about your interview and I'd be glad if you could clarify them:
1. Don't Green OA mandates restrict the choice of journal/publisher as well? Not all publishers allow self-archiving...
2. Have you presented your patches to their policy directly to RCUK yet? And if you did, what was their reaction? If they left open that "loophole" for Hybrid OA accidentally, I think they should be welcoming your suggestions.Jul 28, 2012
- I definitely agree with Cameron that it's better to talk with people instead of for people. Funders, OA publishers and researchers ultimately have the same goal, they just prefer different routes to it. That should not keep them from working together to reach the goal, though.Jul 28, 2012
- REPAIRING THE RCUK MANDATE
+Thomas Pfeiffer: "Don't Green OA mandates restrict the choice of journal/publisher as well?"
60% of journals formally recognize the author's right to provide immediate, unembargoed Green OA. Many of the remaining 40% ask for a Green OA embargo of 6-12 months. Some journals have embargoes of longer than 12 months.
Before the UK government gave all publishers the strong incentive -- by promising, as per the recommendations of the Finch Committee, to take the money to pay for it out of research funds -- to provide a Hybrid Gold OA option and make their Green OA embargoes much longer, to ensure that authors pay for Gold rather than provide cost-free Green, an ID/OA mandate with a maximal embargo of 6-12 months on Green OA would have been feasible, with minimal restriction on journal choice and maximal incentive on journals to minimize or eliminate their embargoes.
But now that the word is out that not only are the extra Gold OA funds to be there for the asking, but that RCUK even obliges authors to pick paid Gold over cost-free Green if Gold is offered, it is no longer possible for RCUK to require a maximum 6-12 month embargo length on Green OA.
The only way to fix the broken RCUK mandate with its perverse incentives and disincentive now is to urge rather than to require a maximum OA embargo of 6-12 months.
What a repaired RCUK mandate can require is:
PATCH 1: Repository deposit (with no exceptions) of the final refereed draft ,immediately upon acceptance for publication, by all fundees, irrespective of journal, urging that access to the deposit should be set as OA immediately if possible, or, at latest, 6 months after deposit (12 for AHRC and ESRC if necessary). (Meanwhile the repository's "email-eprint-request" Button can tide over research user needs during the embargo period by providing "Almost OA" with one click from the requester and one click from the author.)
That applies pressure on authors and journals for short or no embargoes, but it does not prevent authors from publishing in their journal of choice.
PATCH 2: The condition that if the journal offers both Gold and Green the author must choose Gold should be dropped completely.
PATCH 3: Funds are available to pay to publish in a Gold OA journal, but only pure-Gold journals, not hybrid subscription/Gold.
+Thomas Pfeiffer: "Have you presented your patches to their policy directly to RCUK yet?"
RCUK did not consult me in designing their policy (though I did have some indirect information from some of the people RCUK did consult).
I have posted PATCH 1 and 2 prominently now. They are simple enough so that if there is a will to fix the policy, I trust that they can and will be done.
PATCH 3 is highly advisable, if there is the will for it, though, unlike 1 & 2 it is not absolutely essential.Jul 28, 2012
- PRIORITIES, AGAIN
Reply to @Cameron Neylon
"TRANSITIONAL COSTS": It is not at all clear to me what Cameron's speculations about transitional costs of "between nothing and maybe £15M pa for a few years" are based on.
(I'm also not sure how "the worst case scenario is we do 1.5% less research for a few years - and frankly that is in the noise" would wash with researchers, even if were right on the money.)
Does anyone seriously imagine that if the UK, with its 6% of world research output, mandates Gold OA then all journals will convert to pure-Gold OA to accommodate the RCUK mandate?
Assuming the answer is no (and that Cameron does not imagine that all UK authors will therefore drop their existing journals and flock to the existing Gold OA journals), the only remaining option is hybrid Gold.
It is certainly conceivable (indeed virtually certain) that under the irresistible incentive of the current RCUK mandate virtually all journals will quickly come up with a Hybrid Gold option: What is also conceivable is that some journals will offer a discounted hybrid Gold option ("membership") to authors at universities that subscribe to that journal: Maybe even free hybrid Gold for those authors, as long as their university subscribes again the next year.
But that isn't a transition scenario, it's a subscription deal. It locks in current subscription rates and revenues and provides Gold OA for authors from subscribing institutions. How many papers? And what about authors from non-subscribing institutions? And how does this scale, globally and across time?
Subscriptions are sold and sustained on the demand by an institution for the whole of a journal's contents. But an institution's published papers per journal vary from year to year and from institution to institution, What is an institution's incentive to keep subscribing at a fixed rate? Especially if -- mirabile dictu -- the global proportion of Gold OA articles were to go up? (Reminder: You don't need a subscription to access those Gold articles!)
Publishers can do this simple reckoning too. So it is much more likely that the "quick" Hybrid Gold offered by most journals under RCUK pressure will not be based on free Gold OA for subscribers, but on charging extra for Gold OA. How much? It's up to the journal, since the mandate is just that if Gold is offered, it must be picked and paid for, if the journal is picked.
So the likelihood is that journals will charge a lot. (They already charge a lot for Gold OA.) The price per article is likely to be closer to 1/Nth of their gross revenues per article for a journal that publishes N articles per year. If they get that much per RCUK article, then that will bring in 6% more than their prior gross revenue annually.
We can speculate on how much publishers might reduce this 1/N, in order to hedge their bets, on the off-chance that it could also catch on in some other countries whose pockets full of spare research funds are not quite as deep as the UK's -- but why are we speculating like this? No one knows what will happen if UK authors are forced to pay for Gold and journals happily offer them hybrid Gold at an asking-price of the journal's choosing.
What's sure is that this kind of "transition" doesn't scale -- because other countries don't have the spare change to pay for OA this way -- and especially because it is still evident for those who are still thinking straight that OA can be provided, completely free of any extra cost whilst subscriptions are paying for publication, by mandating Green OA rather than paying pre-emptively for a "transition" to Gold OA.
And certainly not paying in order to enjoy the legendary benefits of Libre OA -- for authors who can't even be bothered to provide Gratis OA unless it is mandated! (At least every researcher today, both as author and user, has a concrete sense of the frustration of gratis-access denial as a non-subscriber: How many researchers have the faintest idea of what they are missing for lack of getting or giving libre OA re-use rights?)
I would also appreciate an explanation from Cameron of how, if the UK pays for Gold OA for every one of the articles it publishes, it can "save several hundred million on subscriptions"? Does he imagine that UK institutions only subscribe in order to gain access to their own research output? (Or has Cameron forgotten about hybrid Gold OA again?)
+Cameron Neylon: "It's working for Wellcome so I think it can be made to work here as well."
Is it? And if Wellcome pays to make all its funded research Gold OA, does that take care of Wellcome authors' access to research other than Wellcome-funded research?
+Cameron Neylon: "The only real risk is that publishers form a cartel to agree to charge high prices. And that cartel is already broken by a range of OA publishers who charge much less than the average."
Is that so? Are you not forgetting Hybrid Gold again? And authors' disinclination to give up their journal of choice in order to have to pay scarce research money for a Gold OA that they had to be mandated to act as if they wanted?
Being mandated to do a few extra keystrokes (to provide Green OA) as a condition of receiving research funding is one thing (and a familiar one), but having to give up your journal of choice and to shell out scarce research money (or possibly even some of your own dosh) is quite another.
+Cameron Neylon: "a more effective [RCUK] policy would be to offer the option to go green if Gold is too expensive… I'm… arguing for it with the relevant people"
Putting an arbitrary price-limit on the Gold fee is no solution for the profound flaw in the current RCUK policy. How much more than cost-free is "too expensive"? And why?
+Cameron Neylon: "the firebombing of comment threads… is making my job harder"
Thinking things through first might make it easier -- maybe even consulting those who might have thought them through already. ;>)
+Cameron Neylon: "Claiming that green is free is not helpful"
But while subscriptions are paying the cost of publishing in full, and fulsomely, it is, helpful or not, a fact.
+Cameron Neylon: "Showing how [Green] is cost effective as a strategy, engaging with those people and giving them the detailed modelling of how costs would pan out, is [helpful]."
I believe that's precisely what Alma Swan and John Houghton did, and their modelling and recommendations were ignored in the Finch and RCUK recommendations. Their recommendation was to mandate Green, not to pay pre-emptively for Gold. And they showed that the benefit/cost ratio was far higher for Green than Gold in the transition phase. (Post-Green Gold is another story, but we have to get there first; and the calculations confirm that mandating Green -- not paying pre-emptively for Gold while still paying for subscriptions -- is the way to get there from here.)
+Cameron Neylon: "Offering to help game out the different ways policy might have an impact, is [helpful]."
I offer to help.
Till now I have not been consulted in advance, so I have had no choice but to give my assessment after the policy (both Finch and RCUK) was announced as a fait accompli. My assessment was extremely negative, because both policies are just dreadful, and their defects are obvious.
But RCUK, at least, is easily reparable. I've described how. I'm happy to explain it to any policy-maker willing to listen to me.
(And if RCUK is fixed, that will indirectly fix Finch.)
+Cameron Neylon: "Stevan says above he speaks for the interests of researchers but he doesn't represent mine. Access to the literature isn't a problem for me, I can get any paper I want if I put my mind to it, albeit (possibly) illegally."
Cameron, that response does not scale, nor is it representative.
+Cameron Neylon: "Discovery of the right literature is a problem"
The only reason discovery of the right literature is a problem is that most of it is not yet OA! You can't "discover" what is not there, or not accessible. That's why we need Green (Gratis) OA mandates.
+Cameron Neylon: "you dismiss the potential for enhancing innovation in your reply to me, but that is the government perspective"
Cameron, you know as well as I do that "the government" could not explain what the slogan "potential for enhancing innovation" means to save its life. "The government" gets fed these slogans and buzzwords and "perspectives" by its advisors and lobbyists and spin-doctors.
Yes, it's near-miraculous that "the government" express any interest in OA at all. But it's up to those who actually know what they are talking about to go on to explain to them what it means, and what to do about it.
And anyone who still has his feet on the ground (rather than levitating on gold dust or rights rapture) knows that what is needed first and foremost, and as a necessary precondition for anything further, is Gratis OA (free online access), globally. We're nowhere near having it yet; and if RCUK persists in its present fatally flawed form, we'll have (at the very best) UK Gold OA (raising worldwide OA by 6% from about 22% to about 28%) plus a local, unscalable policy. (More likely, we will simply have a failed mandate, non-compliant authors, a lot of money and time wasted, and the UK no longer leading the worldwide OA movement, as it had been doing for the past 8 years.)
+Cameron Neylon: "There are many different interests served by OA, some served perfectly well by Green or Gratis and some that are not. For those of us with needs not served, Green could be a dangerous distraction, just as Gold looks this way for those who believe Green is the fastest route to universal access."
You seem to be conflating Libre and Gold here Cameron, but never mind. Gratis is for those who need free online access. Libre is for those who need free online access plus certain re-use rights. Green is for those who don't want to wait for all journals to go Gold and don't have the money to pay for Gold pre-emptively at today's asking prices while subscriptions are still being paid for. Gold is for those who are galled by subscription prices (and have other sources of money).
Gratis and Libre come as either Green or Gold, but Green has no extra cost (while subscriptions are being paid); and Libre is much harder to get subscription publishers to agree to. Moreover, all four include Gratis as a necessary condition.
So without tying oneself up into speculative and ideological knots (or a transport of gold fever or rights rapture), it looks as if Gratis OA via cost-free Green OA mandates are the way to go for now (with ID/OA and the Button mooting embargoes).
The rest (Libre, Gold) will come after we've mandated and provided Gratis Green globally. To insist on Libre Gold locally in the UK now, by paying extra for it pre-emptively, is just a way of ensuring that the UK no longer has a scalable global solution for OA at all. And without global Gratis OA at least, the UK's dearly purchased Gold amounts to Fool's Gold, insofar as UK access is concerned. (And remember way back, Cameron: Open Access was about access!)
+Cameron Neylon: "There's no need for this to be competitive. Paying for Libre in no way diminishes the value of Gratis and nor does having Gratis diminish the value in continuing to push for Libre. And both Green and Gold approaches can be complementary in keeping transitional costs under control. We can have both, arguably we need both"
I'm all for going for both -- as long as cost-free Green Gratis OA is mandated and Libre Gold is a bonus option one can choose if one wishes and has the money to pay for it. Not, as RCUK currently has it, where the author may not choose Green if a journal offers Gold. That is just fatal foolishness, aka, Fool's Gold.Jul 28, 2012