Monday 25 February 2013

ASA 2013: Robert Kiley on Scholarly Communication - A Funder's Perspective

Robert Kiley, Wellcome Trust

Robert Kiley is Head of Digital Services at the Wellcome Trust. They are a key advocate and funder of open access communication, and as Kiley wryly observed, open access is a topic that just keeps on giving.

The Trust has had an open access policy for several years. Each month they check compliance, currently running at 55%. As open access is not an option, but a grant requirement, they introduced sanctions last summer. From 1 April 2013, their policy requires CC-BY which he believes has created an awful lot of noise, some of it misinformed, some of it mischievous. If that is not offered, the research won't be able to go down the gold route, and will have to go the green self-archived route, which is not their preferred route.

Open access has become mainstream with support at the highest level of government. HEFCE will launch a consultation on how to measure OA for the REF 2020 (announcement here). There are developments in the EU and US. FASTR has maximum six month embargo and re-use requirements. He noted that with the announcement on Friday the US has gone for a 12 month embargo, which he believed was a step in the right direction. Kiley is a strong supporter of PLoS One and eLife, but was less enthusiastic about the publisher 'me-too' efforts.

There is a growing recognition that allowing everyone to read 'stuff' is important, but allowing computers to read 'stuff' is even more important. He noted that 48% of content added to PubMed Central in 2011 was included in open access subset.

He discussed the rise of intermediaries and noted that other than funding, one of the biggest problems researchers face when opting for open access is paying the APC. Providers are now stepping in to plug this gap including Open Access KeyCopyright Clearance CenterEBSCO and others.

The University of Edinburgh identified that c. £1741 is the average cost of an APC while the Wellcome Trust has found that c. £1797 is the average cost of APCs from the trust funded model. They are investing money in their own publishing activities, currently at 1.2% of their total spend, but they expect this to rise to 1.5% in the future.

Kiley refuted the assertion that gold is a UK-only phenomenon with the data that 22% of articles published in PLoS One were NIH funded. Hybrid articles are also being funded - 48% of articles routed through ACS "Author Choices" option were NIH funded. In 2012, the majority of published authors in PLOS were (in order of uptake) from US, China, Germany and UK.

One strength of the 'gold' model is around transparency. He believes there is a risk if we move from 'big deal subscriptions' to 'big deal APCs', the transparency benefits will be lost. He also suggested that the 'funder provides funding / researcher is not bothered by cost / publisher sets price' might be a dysfunctional market. He senses that authors need to be aware of price and they need to explore other funding models (e.g. COPE) while subscriptions need to take account of APC, perhaps with differential pricing.

Kiley closed by outlining how they still believe dissemination costs are research costs. The cost of 100% open access is probably around 1.5% of their research spend. The move to open access continues to gain momentum through policies, publishing ventures and intermediaries. Gold open access is not just taking hold in the UK and funders need to ensure that the APC model remains competitive.

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