Re: Question for publishers - Research Assessment Exercise 2008

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sat, 18 Feb 2006 00:08:20 +0000

Thanks to Peter Suber for drawing this to my attention. (I was not on
LIS-E-Journals but have now joined to be able to reply.)

Below, Kate Price of U. Surrey asks whether publishers would allow authors
to make electronic versions of their articles available to the RAE
assessors (in place of the usual paper submissions). Alicia Wise of the
Publishers Licensing Society replies that licensing arrangements are
being made with HEFCE.

First, I would like to point out such a colossal absurdity in this that
it takes one's breath away. Then, more constructively, I will point out
what is likely to be the actual outcome, mooting the entire question.

(1) The Absurdity: If for RAE 1996 and 2001 there was no need felt to make a
"licensing arrangement" in order for authors to submit paper copies of
their published articles for RAE assessment, why on earth would anyone
imagine that a licensing arrangement is required for the electronic
versions? I am not in the habit of asking my publisher for permission to
send copies of my own article for evaluation, whether for RAE, salary
review, or research grant funding. (What on earth were HEFCE thinking?).

(On top of this, it is almost certain that it is HEFCE's completely
arbitrary, unnecessary and dysfunctional insistence, to date, on the
publisher's PDF for RAE assessment that is the source of all the fuss.)

(2) The Constructive Alternative: RCUK is, one hopes, on the verge of
mandating that the final, peer-reviewed, accepted draft ("postprint") of
all articles resulting from RCUK funding must be deposited in the fundee's
institutional repository immediately upon acceptance for publication.
UK Universities are also poised to follow suit, with mandatory depositing
of all their research output.

The solution is hence crystal clear. Forget about licensing! The
postprints should be used for RAE assessment. The PDFs are infinitely
more trouble than they are worth: their marginal value over the
postprint is next to nothing. HEFCE should join the chorus (of
research funding councils and research institutions themselves) in
mandating that all postprints be deposited in the university's IR.

Deposit mandates are wonderful things, for they cater for all tastes.
Ninety-three percent of journals have already agreed that access to them
can be set to Open Access (OA). (Note, again, that *no* permission is
needed from anyone in order to deposit the postprints themselves!) The
journal's endorsement of the author's making the deposit OA is welcome,
but not necessary either. But if an author for some reason prefers not
to make the deposited article OA, they can make it RA (restricted
access) instead. The RAE assessors can then be given access to the RA

Now, before everyone starts squawking about all sorts of legalistic and
pedantic niceties, sit and think about it for a few moments, and try to
sort out what really has substance in all this, and what is just
officious fluff: No, the difference between PDF and postscript is *not*
a problem. No, providing access to RAE assessors for a restricted access
deposit is not a problem. No, mandating deposit is not a problem. In
fact all of these are natural developments, optimal for research,
researchers, their institutions, their funders and their assessors --
and they are also inevitable.

So we can either keep talking ourselves through more epicycles, or we
can just go ahead and do the optimal and inevitable (and obvious)
at last.

    Harnad, S. (2001) "Research access, impact and assessment." Times
    Higher Education Supplement 1487: p. 16.

    "UK Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) review" (Oct, 2002)

    Harnad, S., Carr, L., Brody, T. & Oppenheim, C. (2003)
    Mandated online RAE CVs Linked to University Eprint Archives:
    Improving the UK Research Assessment Exercise whilst
    making it cheaper and easier. Ariadne 35 (April 2003).

    "Bronze release of RAE software for OA repositories" (2006)

Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum

>> Sent: 15 February 2006 17:46
>> Subject: Question for publishers - Research Assessment Exercise 2008
>> This is really a question for any publishers scanning this list, but UK
>> HE librarians will be interested in the answers.
>> The UK Research Assessment Exercise will occur again in 2008...
>> I'm concerned about... published journal articles,
>> published conference proceedings and published books (and individual
>> book chapters).
>> Paragraph 96 states that institutions will be expected to make published
>> journal articles, conference proceedings and book chapters available "in
>> electronic format" to the assessors... "the method of submission may
>> involve HEIs depositing items onto a protected website or giving access to
>> institutional repositories of publications"...
>> 1) Has the Higher Education Funding Council for England made any
>> approaches to publishers regarding allowing electronic access to
>> published materials specifically for the RAE?
>> 2) What are publishers' opinions on the copyright implications of this
>> (given that this access would be for a limited period, to a very limited
>> audience, and crucial for the main business of a UK university). Are
>> publishers likely to object strongly?
>> Kate Price
>> E-Strategy & Resources Manager
>> University Library
>> E-mail:

> Dear Kate,
> My name is Alicia Wise, and I work for an organisation called the
> Publishers Licensing Society. Graham Taylor at the Publishers Association
> kindly forwarded your email to me.
> HEFCE and PLS are actively working on a licence so that RAE panels can
> access published works for their review purposes. The licence would cover
> printed and digital copies. I'd be happy to update you on progress, or you
> could speak with Ed Hughes who is the RAE Manager at HEFCE.
> With very best wishes,
> Alicia
> Dr Alicia Wise
> Chief Executive
> Publishers Licensing Society
> London, WC1E 6HH
Received on Sat Feb 18 2006 - 00:52:03 GMT

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