Monday, July 30. 2012
Excerpts from ongoing discussion:
OA advocate Stevan Harnad withdraws support for RCUK policy - if true, this looks disastrous for UK :Open and Shut?: OA advocate Stevan Harnad withdraws support for RCUK policy
Disagree strongly with Stevan here. His main objection is that this will annoy researchers but to be honest the Wellcome has been taking this line for some years with no signs of revolt. Yes the question of pricing is core but what the RCUK policy does is push those purchasing decisions exactly where they should be, at the institutional/researcher level.
+Cameron Neylon From reading the interview it seems to me that +Stevan Harnad's main objection is not that it will annoy researchers but that it creates a loophole for publishers to force authors to pay atronomical prices for Hybrid Gold OA instead of using Green OA. This does sound rather serious to me.
It's not a mistake its quite deliberate. RCUK position as I understand it is that they want to ensure there is a market - if authors don't like the price that journals are charging they should go elsewhere. I would prefer a green option in these cases myself but they're prepared to take the flack. What they can't do is set prices...as a QUANGO this would be illegal - what they can do is set up a system where there is price sensitivity and that's what they've done.
But isn't that was Finch is aiming for as well?
Finch doesn't really aim for anything - it suggests what the priorities are, but it's main weakness in my view was precisely in not providing a mechanism that constrains prices. Several routes to this: one is ensure a green option is allowed and viable (one sentence to this effect in Finch would have changed the whole tone). The second is to force researchers to be price sensitive - which seems to be the RCUK route. A third is for the funder to take on the price negotiations - this is the Wellcome approach.
It seems that this is really the central question: How important will price be for authors? Will they favor a less well-known journal with similar quality but lower price, or will they stick with the prestigious journals, no matter the price?
I also wonder what +Peter Suber has to say about this?
Hi +Thomas Pfeiffer: In general I'm with Stevan on this. The RCUK policy and the Finch recommendations fail to take good advantage of green OA. Like Stevan, I initially overestimated the role of green in the RCUK policy, but in conversation with the RCUK have come to a better understanding. In various blog posts since the two documents were released, I've criticized the under-reliance on green. I'm doing so again, more formally, in a forthcoming editorial in a major journal. I'm also writing up my views at greater length for the September issue of my newsletter (SPARC Open Access Newsletter).
Thank you for stating your opinion here, +Peter Suber. I know that you have been promoting Green OA and I've read about your opinion on the Finch report and your initial very positive reaction to the RCUK policy. Seems like I missed your posts about your opinion on RCUK after a re-examining it, so it was interesting to know what you think about it by now.
It's probably worth saying that I broadly agree with +Peter Suber 's position (and even to an extent Stevan's) but I disagree with Stevan's tactics. I don't think that the RCUK position is so bad - but its a question of degree. It also has to be understood in the context of the philosophical background to the policies. 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.
I concur. Until now I hadn't realized that the differences between preferring Gold or Green OA depended on the philosophical stance, but the way Cameron explains it, it absolutely makes sense. However I can't really say which position seems more valid to me, they both have good reasons speaking for them.
Yeh, the trouble I have with the whole "its free!" argument is that of course, it isn't. That seems to be getting missed in the discussion somewhere. We are paying for this - and we should be able to do this by at worse zero-sum with some transitional costs. Frustrating that people still believe the current system is "free".
reply to +Cameron Neyon1. PRIORITIES
+Cameron Neylon wrote: "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?
DECLARATION OF INTERESTS@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.
Thank you, +Stevan Harnad, 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.
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.
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