Misguided is the word used in the June 20, 2012 editorial for The Conversation by Jason Norrie to describe the UK proposal to adopt ‘open access’ publishing, from physorg.com,
The British government has enlisted the services of Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales in a bid to support open access publishing for all scholarly work by UK researchers, regardless of whether it is also published in a subscription-only journal.
The cost of doing so would range from £50 to £60 million a year, according to an independent study commissioned by the government. Professor Dame Janet Finch, who led the study, said that “in the longer term, the future lies with open access publishing.” Her report says that “the principle that the results of research that has been publicly funded should be freely accessible in the public domain is a compelling one, and fundamentally unanswerable.”
Norrie’s June 20,2012 editorial can also be found on The Conversation website where he includes responses from academics to the proposal,
Emeritus Professor Colin Steele, former librarian of the Australian National University, said that although report was supportive of the principles of open access, it proposed a strategy that was unnecessarily costly and could not be duplicated in Australia.
“The way they’ve gone about it almost totally focuses, presumably due to publisher pressure, on the gold model of open access,” he said. “As a result of that, the amount of money needed to carry out the transition – the money needed for article processing charges – is very large. It’s not surprising that the publishers have come out in favour of the report, because it will guarantee they retain their profits.
“It certainly wouldn’t work in Australia because there simply isn’t that amount of research council funding available.
Stevan Harnad, a Professor in the Department of Psychology at Université du Québec à Montréal, said the report had scrubbed the green model from the UK policy agenda and replaced it with a “vague, slow evolution toward gold open access publishing, at the publishers’ pace and price. The result would be very little open access, very slowly, and at a high price … taken out of already scarce UK research funds, instead of the rapid and cost-free open access growth vouchsafed by green open access mandates from funders and universities.”
For anyone not familiar with the differences between the ‘green’ and ‘gold models, the Wikipedia essay on Open Access offers a definition (Note: I have removed links and footnotes),
- Green OA Self Archiving – authors publish in any journal and then self-archive a version of the article for free public use in their institutional repository, in a central repository (such as PubMed Central), or on some other OA website What is deposited is the peer-reviewed postprint – either the author’s refereed, revised final draft or the publisher’s version of record. Green OA journal publishers endorse immediate OA self-archiving by their authors. OA self-archiving was first formally proposed in 1994 by Stevan Harnad [emphasis mine]. However, self-archiving was already being done by computer scientists in their local FTP archives in the ’80s, later harvested into Citeseer. High-energy physicists have been self-archiving centrally in arXiv since 1991.
- Gold OA Publishing – authors publish in an open access journal that provides immediate OA to all of its articles on the publisher’s website. (Hybrid open access journals provide Gold OA only for those individual articles for which their authors (or their author’s institution or funder) pay an OA publishing fee.) Examples of OA publishers are BioMed Central and the Public Library of Science.
I guess that Wikipedia entry explains why Hamad is quoted in Norrie’s editorial.
While money is one of the most discussed issues surrounding the ‘open access publication’ discussion, I am beginning to wonder why there isn’t more mention of the individual career-building, institution science reputation-building and national science reputation-building that the current publication model helps make possible.
I have posted on this topic previously, the May 28, 2012 posting is my most comprehensive (huge) take on the subject.
As for The Conversation, it’s my first encounter with this very interesting Australian experiment in communicating research to the public, from the Who We Are page,
The Conversation is an independent source of analysis, commentary and news from the university and research sector — written by acknowledged experts and delivered directly to the public. Our team of professional editors work with more than 3,100 registered academics and researchers to make this wealth of knowledge and expertise accessible to all.
We aim to be a site you can trust. All published work will carry attribution of the authors’ expertise and, where appropriate, will disclose any potential conflicts of interest, and sources of funding. Where errors or misrepresentations occur, we will correct these promptly.
Our initial content partners include those institutions, Strategic Partner RMIT University and a growing list of member institutions. More than 180 institutions contribute content, including Australia’s research-intensive, Group of Eight universities.
We are based in Melbourne, Australia, and wholly owned by The Conversation Media Trust, a not-for-profit company.
The copyright notice at the bottom of The Conversation’s web pages suggest it was founded in 2010. It certainly seems to have been embraced by Australian academics and other interested parties as per the Home page,
The Conversation is an independent source of analysis, commentary and news from the university and research sector viewed by 350,000 readers each month. Our team of professional editors work with more than 2,900 registered academics and researchers from 200 institutions.
I wonder if there’s any chance we’ll see something like this here in Canada?