Monday, 25 February 2013

UK Open Access Finch Report


1. The House of Lords recommends determining whether other countries are mandating gold OA or green OA. 

(The finding will be that other countries are mandating green, and not funding or preferring gold, as the RCUK has proposed to do. The outcome will be that the UK mandates green and drops its preference [and perhaps its funding] for gold, as it should have done in the first place.)

2. The Lords also recommend looking into discipline differences. 

(The finding will be that all disciplines want and need OA and that publishers differ in whether and how long an embargo they want on green OA. The solution will be to mandate immediate, unembargoed deposit of all peer-reviewed journal articles in institutional repositories, but to allow an embargo of 6 months for making deposits in science, technology, engineering and medical research OA and perhaps a somewhat longer embargo for making arts, humanities and social science deposits OA. During the embargo, the repositories will automatically facilitate authors' providing individual emailed copies of the deposit to individual users for research purposes on individual request.)

The Lords' data on current journal green OA embargo lengths (Figure 3), focusing as it does on journal compliance with RCUK paid gold and embargoed green policy, fails to show the most relevant data: the proportion of journals already endorsing immediate, un-embargoed green OA, which is over 60% and includes almost all the top journals in most fields. The issue is not crucial, however, because an immediate-deposit mandate moots any indecision about embargo lengths: the immediate-deposit component -- if not the embargo length -- is indeed one-size-fits-all. 

The Lords' call for an examination of whether and which disciplines want and need CC-BY licences for re-mix, re-use and re-publication is welcome. (The finding will be that most if not all disciplines don't need it, and certainly not as urgently as all disciplines want and need free online access; hence CC-BY is no justification for double-paying publishers gold OA.)

3. The only disappointment in the Lords' report is the treatment of "compliance." 

There are two independent aspects of compliance: Journal compliance and author compliance. A policy mandating immediate deposit with no preference for gold moots the major concerns about journal compliance. 

But "slow implementation" is not the solution for ensuring author compliance with green (immediate deposit). 

This is the part of UK OA policy that needs the most attention, but it is easily solved: Require institutional deposit, thereby recruiting  institutions to monitor and ensure immediate deposit; make grant instalments and renewal contingent on compliance with the immediate deposit-requirement (as many mandates worldwide are now doing); and designate deposit as the sole route for submitting publications for performance evaluation, research assessment and grant applications.

The remedies for the flaws in the proposed new RCUK policy are simple and obvious, but they need to be attended to promptly now, otherwise the UK will be the odd man out in the worldwide movement toward OA, instead of the leader it had formerly been.

On Fri, Feb 22, 2013 at 3:47 AM, Richard Poynder <> wrote:
The House of Lords Science & Technology Committee has today published its report on implementation of the UK government’s Open Access policy.

Commenting, Lord Krebs, Chairman of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, said:

“RCUK did not consult or communicate effectively with key stakeholders in the publishing and academic communities when implementing its open access policy. While we are delighted that our inquiry has shown that RCUK are proposing to phase in their open access policy during the initial five-year implementation phase, this should have been made clear much earlier. That is why we call upon the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to review how RCUK communicated this important change.

“There are still many unknowns concerning the impact of the open access policy, which is why RCUK must commit to a wide rangeing review of its policy in 2014, 2016 and before it expects full compliance in 2018. We heard significant concern about the policy’s ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, and are pleased that RCUK are both aware of these concerns and prepared to act on them.

“Open access is an inexorable trend. The Government must ensure that in further developing our capabilities to share research they do not inadvertently damage the ‘complex ecosystem’ of research communication in the UK.”

The report is available here:

RCUK’s response is here:

Times Higher news story here:

A background piece here:

From: Repositories discussion list [mailto:JISC-REPOSITORIES@JISCMAIL.AC.UK] On Behalf Of CHARLES OPPENHEIM
Sent: 22 February 2013 09:46
Subject: House of Lords Sci/Tech C'tee's report on RCUK Open Access Policy published today!

Don't have a URL for it, and have not yet read it, but rumour has it that it is critical of RCUK's commitment to Gold


Professor Charles Oppenheim

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Register now to take part in the first international discovery summit : JISC

Last 15 places now available - register online and join the first international discovery summit, in London on 21-22 February.  Jisc and the British Library are calling university librarians and archivists, library staff, museum curators and expert developers from across the globe to ask ‘how is open data transforming the world’s great collections at universities, galleries, libraries, archives and museums from being on the internet, to being of the internet?’