Re: Drubbing Peter to Pay Paul

From: Steve Hitchcock <>
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 2004 10:32:07 +0000

Stevan says that the government response to the select committee was based
on a misunderstanding, will be rectified and therefore, in effect, changes
nothing. This raises the question, why were Ian Gibson and the select cttee
so "angry" with the response? I can't second-guess the politics of this,
but the select cttee went very public with its feelings on the govt
response and this became the cue for the newspaper reporting, and may thus
have been a misjudgement.

What is really needed from the cttee is an emphasis on its original
recommendation for an OA archiving mandate and the progress that has been
made since with some very significant UK academic bodies. That progress
could be at risk through misreporting, allowing a gap to build between
reality and perception ("hopes dashed"). So I hope those involved in and
leading these developments will come forward and join Stevan in putting the
case straight, highlighting what has been achieved so far and outlining the
forward-looking agenda for OA archiving that now exists in the UK thanks in
part to the select cttee report.

Steve Hitchcock
IAM Group, School of Electronics and Computer Science
University of Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK
Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 3256 Fax: +44 (0)23 8059 2865

At 04:07 12/11/04 +0000, you wrote:
>On Thu, 11 Nov 2004, wrote:
> > I thought readers of the list might be interested to see the response
> > (below) by Lord Sainsbury of Turville (UK Minister for Science and
> > Innovation) in the Financial Times of 10th November 2004, to the Financial
> > Times' editorial comment of 9th November (below Sainsbury letter) on the
> > open access question.
> >
> > Alison Macdonald
> > Digital Archiving Consultancy
> > Twickenham, UK
> >
> > <<Open access is not only science publishing model
> >
> > By David Sainsbury Published: November 10 2004 02:00 | Last updated:
> > November 10 2004 02:00 From Lord Sainsbury of Turville.
>Is it not obvious even to readers of this list that this is all just
>drubbing Peter to pay Paul? The only major recommendation of the UK Select
>Committee was to mandate OA self-archiving. Yet no one (MPs, press,
>publishers or librarians) can stop going on and on about OA publishing,
>which was *not* what was being mandated!
>All 3 committee recommendations -- the one major one, to mandate OA
>self-archiving, plus the 2 minor ones (to (1) encourage "experimenting"
>with OA publishing and to (2) provide some funds for authors who wish to
>publish in OA journals) -- were turned down, all on the basis of arguments
>against OA publishing. And everyone -- from Lord S. on up and down --
>still keeps yammering only about OA publishing!
>Let the next parliamentary recommendation be shorter and clearer, make no
>mention whatsoever of Paul (OA publishing), and then maybe this time Peter
>will stand a better chance!
>(Or can we just not *resist* provoking a good fight with publishers
>every time, and having a good moan about library budgets, and a royal go at
>economic reform? Can we, in other words, not keep in mind that *access*
>is what this is all about, and that even affordability would become a minor
>matter if only the access needs were fully taken care of -- as they would
>be if all articles were made OA through self-archiving?)
> "The UK report, press coverage, and the Green and Gold Roads to Open
> Access"
>Stevan Harnad
> > Sir, In your editorial on open-access publishing ("Open access", November
> > 9) you seem to misunderstand both the government's position and the nature
> > of open-access publishing.
> >
> > As was made very clear in our response to the Commons science committee,
> > the government is very happy to see users of research in this country
> > having a choice between traditional "subscriber pays" publishing and
> > open-access publishing. That is why it is making certain that there is a
> > level playing-field by encouraging the research councils to support
> > scientists wanting to take the open-access route.
> >
> > What the government does not think is right to do is to promote one model,
> > open-access publishing, in the marketplace. It is not clear that on a
> > like-for-like basis open-access publishing will have a lower cost base,
> > and as it will transfer some of the payments from industry users to the
> > authors, it is likely to lead to higher costs for universities and
> > research institutes. Also, because Britain produces 5.3 per cent of
> > articles in the world's science journals while accounting for only 3.5 per
> > cent of subscriptions, we would also lose out as a country.
> >
> > The government believes that providing a level playing-field and giving
> > users a choice is the best way to avoid arbitrarily giving either kind of
> > publishing an advantage. David Sainsbury, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of
> > State for Science and Innovation, Department of Trade and Industry, London
> > SW1H 0ET>>
> >
> > The FT editorial:
> > <<Open access
> > Financial Times - Editorial comment
> > Published: November 9 2004 02:00 | Last updated: November 9 2004 02:00
> >
> > Advocates of "open access" scientific publishing wanted Britain to lead an
> > international move from traditional subscription-based journals to a model
> > that would make all research findings accessible to anyone with a
> > computer. Their hopes were dashed yesterday when the government rejected
> > the recommendations of the Commons science committee that it promote the
> > new model - also known as "author-pays" - with practical actions such as
> > help for universities to make all their researchers' papers available free
> > online.
> >
> > Although the angry MPs may have gone too far in accusing the Department of
> > Trade and Industry of kow-towing to the publishing lobby at the expense of
> > British science, the government should not have taken such a negative
> > stance. A more measured response would have been to adopt some of the
> > committee's suggestions for establishing Britain as a test-bed for open
> > access journals, with publishing and peer review costs met ultimately by
> > the research funding agencies, while making clear that there would be no
> > precipitate move away from the existing system.
> >
> > The main reason for considering a change now is that computer and
> > communications technology make it possible, for the first time, to
> > disseminate research results far beyond the traditional purchasers of
> > scientific journals, such as university libraries. There is a powerful
> > ideological argument that the public, having funded the research in the
> > first place, should not have to pay again to see the results.
> >
> > The scientific journal market has been very lucrative in recent years. The
> > volume of research is growing and academic success in many countries
> > depends increasingly on publications in prestigious journals. Their
> > publishers are making large profits selling paper copies to libraries at
> > prices that have risen faster than general inflation, while at the same
> > time tapping a fast-growing new market through charging for internet
> > access.
> >
> > The problem facing open access advocates is that, while scientific
> > publishing may be dominated by companies such as Reed Elsevier, it also
> > includes many learned societies that depend on revenues from their
> > journals to support educational and professional activities. A mechanism
> > will have to be found to protect the latter from the adverse consequences
> > of any significant move away from subscription-based publishing.
> >
> > Although the lukewarm attitude of the government will disappoint open
> > access activists, the publishing industry must recognise the growing
> > international pressure for fundamental change. The Wellcome Trust is
> > determined to introduce open access publishing through the 400m a year it
> > spends on biomedical research and there are powerful voices for reform in
> > the US and elsewhere in Europe. A fair compromise might be to give
> > journals six months exclusivity and then guarantee free public access.>>
> >
> > ###
> >
Received on Fri Nov 12 2004 - 10:32:07 GMT

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