Re: Updated RCUK statement 28 June 2006

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2006 15:22:32 +0100

On Wed, 28 Jun 2006, David Prosser wrote:

> More importantly, if you look at the RCUK page:
> You will see a set of 'individual Council websites'. I initially thought
> these were just links to the Councils. They are actually links to the
> Councils' open access policies! Some have decided not to have a policy, but
> a number - such as the MRC - have detailed policies that mandate deposit!

(1) The RCUK's decision today to let individual funding councils decide
for themselves whether or not to mandate OA self-archiving is both good
and bad.

It is good that the individual councils will be able to mandate it if
they wish (and bravo to MRC, BBSRC & ESRC for already doing so: CCLRC is
close, and I am sure other councils will be mandating too!), but too bad
that consensus by all the councils could not be reached.

(2) The "plans to assess the impact of author-pays publishing and
self-archiving on research publishing" are empty nonsense.

First, the most important impact of OA is on research, researchers, and
the public that funds them, and that impact has already been tested and
repeatedly demonstrated to be highly positive, with OA dramatically
enhancing research usage and impact.

Second, the only objective way to assess the impact of mandated
self-archiving on publishing is to mandate it and monitor the outcome
yearly. So far, spontaneous, unmandated self-archiving remains at about
15% overall, and that's why OA needs to be mandated. So far spontaneous
self-archiving has had zero impact on publishing (i.e., subscription
revenues), even in the few fields (of physics) where it has been close
to 100% for years.

In other words, the spontaneous self-archiving experiment has already
been done, and it has had no impact on publishing. The only way to go on
to assess the effects of mandated self-archiving is to mandate it, and
review the effects each year.

As to testing the effects of OA publishing: Publishers are now offering
Open Choice, whereby authors (and their institutions and funders) can
decide whether or not they wish to pay for OA for their individual
articles. That promises to be a lengthy experiment, and the decision on
whether to mandate OA self-archiving now should certainly not wait for
its outcome -- particularly because 100% of publication costs are
currently being paid by institutional subscriptions, and it is not clear
where or why to find extra cash for paid OA until and unless
institutional subscriptions start getting cancelled (in which case the
institutional cancellation savings themselves would be the natural
source for the cash to pay for the OA publication).

In other words, this call for further studies to "assess impact" before
mandating OA self-archiving is merely a cop-out in response to
publishing community lobbying, which has already successfully
filibustered self-archiving mandates for several years now: In reality,
the self-archiving mandates themselves are the only objective test of
their own impact.

Let us hope the other individual Research Councils will, like MRC, BBSRC
and ESRC (CCLRC is already close) have the good sense to go ahead and
conduct the tests, by adopting the mandates.

Stevan Harnad

> -----Original Message-----
> Behalf Of J.F.B.Rowland
> Sent: 28 June 2006 14:22
> The long-awaited update to the RCUK statement on Open Access has been
> published today. It can be found at:
> The crucial wording is:
> '4. Research councils agree that their funded researchers should, where
> required to do so, deposit the outputs from research councils funded
> research in an acceptable repository as designated by the individual
> research council. This requirement will be effective from the time indicated
> in the guidance from the individual research council, This guidance will be
> published on individual Research Council websites and will, where
> appropriate, require funded researchers to:
> . Personally deposit, or otherwise ensure the deposit of, a copy of any
> resultant articles published in journals or conference proceedings, in an
> appropriate repository, as designated by the individual research council.
> . Wherever possible, personally deposit, or otherwise ensure the deposit of,
> the bibliographical metadata relating to such articles, including a link to
> the publisher's website, at or around the time of publication.'
> That is, each individual Research Councils will have discretion to 'require'
> (or not) deposition in an OA repository. Expect the publishers' lobbying to
> transfer to the individual RCs now.
> Fytton Rowland, Loughborough University
Received on Wed Jun 28 2006 - 15:33:36 BST

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