|Fred Dylla from the American Institute of Physics|
State of play for journals open accessSo you thought journals open access was all sorted? Not if you attended the session on negotiating with governments chaired by Fred Dylla of AIP. Fred has been closely involved in negotiations about open access models in the USA, Steve Hall of IOPP, as a member of the Finch working group is similarly placed in the UK and Eric Merkel-Sobotta of Springer filled in the picture for the European Union. The aspiration is familiar: everyone wants research results to reach the widest possible audience, and even increasingly acknowledges that this wish has to be paid for in a viable way. The contention is over the How?
In quick succession in the UK in mid 2012, the Finch Report recommended Gold open access as the preferred long-term option, agreed by all stakeholders with Green as the route to this destination. It also made recommendations about funding mechanisms, ways to increase access to the 96% of research published overseas, and experimentation on open access to monographs. The government accepted the report in principle, with Gold as the aim, but no extra money. Job done? Not so fast. Research Councils UK initially, though it is said with inadequate consultation, supported Gold and payment of APCs, but had to retreat, being out of step with what appeared to be happening in other countries, and was criticised by Parliament’s Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, though the latter did not escape criticism itself.
“Throwing things against the wall and hoping you’ll be able to clean up the mess later on seems a poor substitute for evidence-based reasoning” David Crotty, Scholarly Kitchen
The Higher Education Funding Council for England is consulting and appears to be veering towards Green. University policies are still evolving and there is no consistency within the Russell Group of universities, with Gold being favoured by only a very small minority. Most publishers are offering Gold as an option but a pragmatic approach seems the order of the day.
“Status of implementation in UK: Green is the new Gold” Steve Hall
|Steve Hall from Institute of Physics Publishing|
In Germany an initial 18-month consultation came out for Gold but an alliance of small publishers, Börsenverein (organizer of Frankfurt Book Fair) and large funders scuppered the initiative. There has been some progress in other countries but it has been difficult to approach the momentum achieved in the UK and USA.
There is some urgency at the European Union level as there will be a new Commission within about a year, and the work may have to start all over again if no solid consensus emerges before then. Eric Merkel-Sobotta urged all his listeners and their associations – ALPSP, STM and others – to build up much more of a presence in Brussels and articulate a coherent argument for the place of publishers in the value-added chain, to defeat the still current cliché of the greedy, rip-off publisher.
“Continue to engage constructively in the debate and increase the volume”
By now the atmosphere in the great marquee was perhaps a little subdued: here we are all ready for new business models for journal publishing, but why is it so difficult? Fred Dylla’s review of the US experience was perhaps a little more positive. There is a clear policy on the part of the Office of Science and Technology Policy for increasing access to the results of federally funded research. Funding agencies have been asked to come up with proposals for achieving this, due about now. Most agencies have not yet publicly responded though the National Institutes for Health are ahead of the game with the offer to open up PubMedCentral to other agencies.
|Eric Merkel-Sobotta from Springer|
Fluid is perhaps the best word to describe the state of play in respect of public access policy, with a fairly systematic approach in the USA, some hope in the UK and head scratching in the rest of the EU. Expect another session at this conference a year from now. Meanwhile, keep up to date with posts on the Scholarly Kitchen and elsewhere.
Kurt Paulus, Bradford-on-Avon