Multigrain Discussion: The Finch Report: "Gold" versus "Green" open access

As many of you know the Finch Committee Report and its support of  “gold” open access has gotten a lot of press both pro and con.   The battle lines continue to be drawn.  InfoDOCKET reports an article in the Guardian that notes the UK government “is to unveil controversial plans to make publicly funded scientific research immediately available for anyone to read for free by 2014, in the most radical shakeup of academic publishing since the invention of the internet. Under the scheme, research papers that describe work paid for by the British taxpayer will be free online for universities, companies and individuals to use for any purpose, wherever they are in the world.  In an interview with the Guardian before Monday’s announcement David Willetts, the universities and science minister, said he expected a full transformation to the open approach over the next two years…”

This is an obvious government endorsement of the recent Finch Committee report favoring “gold” open access over the “green” model.

However, according to critics like Stevan Harnad, professor of electronics and computer science at Southampton University, “the government was facing an expensive bill in supporting gold open access over the green open access model…  “The Finch committee’s recommendations look superficially as if they are supporting open access, but in reality they are strongly biased in favour of the interests of the publishing industry over the interests of UK research…”

Professor Harnad also notes in a post to liblicense that there has been support for “green” open access as  “the UK research funding councils, RCUK, have re-confirmed their policy of mandating Green OA:

“The new policy, which will apply to all qualifying publications being submitted for publication from 1 April 2013, states that peer reviewed research papers which result from research that is wholly or partially funded by the Research Councils… must be published in journals which are compliant with Research Council policy on Open Access.

“Criteria which journals must fulfill to be compliant with the Research Councils’ Open Access policy are detailed within the policy, but include offering a “pay to publish” option or allowing deposit in a subject or institutional repository after a mandated maximum embargo period…”

Where do you stand on the issue?  Is “gold” open access necessary to provide the financial resources to make open access a reality?  Are taxpayers who have paid for the research entitled to the free access that “green” open access promises?  Is there a hybrid model that preserves the positive elements of both “gold” and “green” models?  Where does peer review and quality assurance fit in to all of this?

See also: 

Open access is the future of academic publishing, says Finch report

Report calls on government to back open access science

Expanding access to research publications

The Finch Report: UCL’s David Price Responds

 

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One thought on “Multigrain Discussion: The Finch Report: "Gold" versus "Green" open access

  1. ATG Q&A ON POST-GREEN GOLD OA VS PRE-EMPTIVE GOLD OA

    “Is “gold” open access necessary to provide the financial resources to make open access a reality?”

    No, institutional subscriptions are already paying the cost of publication, in full, handsomely. No need to pay still more for Gold OA: Just mandate Green OA self-archiving of the author’s peer-reviewed final draft. (That’s exactly what UK and EU research funders are mandating. All insitutions and funders worldwide need to do the same, and global OA will be a reality.

    “Are taxpayers who have paid for the research entitled to the free access that “green” open access promises?”

    Of course. And all their funders and institutions need do is mandate it, as RCUK, EC, NIH and other funders, as well as UCL, Harvard, MIT and other institutions have begun to do.

    “Is there a hybrid model that preserves the positive elements of both “gold” and “green” models?”

    The RCUK & EC mandates are already hybrid Green+Gold: They mandate Green and provide funds for Gold. But research money is already overstretched. Gold need not be paid for in advance until universal Green has caused global subscription cancelation, making subscriptions unsustainable as the means of paying the cost of publication. Then journals will downsize to providing just the peer review service alone and convert to Gold OA, paid for, per paper published, by the authors’ institutions, out of a small portion of the windfall savings freed up by the subscription cancelations made possible by universal availability of the Green version.

    That’s a scalable, affordable and sustainable post-Green Gold “hybrid”.

    The pre-emptive payment for hybrid subscription+Gold, pre-Green, that Finch/Willets have recommended, in contrast, is not: It’s just the needless and senseless waste of a lot of public money for little OA in return. The only interest served by pre-emptive hybrid subscription+Gold is publshers’ interest in preserving their current bloated revenue streams, come what may.

    “Where does peer review and quality assurance fit in to all of this?”

    Peer review is quality assurance, and it never left! Green OA is the self-archiving of peer-reviewed papers, the peer review paid for by institutional subscriptions. Post-Green OA-Gold OA is the peer review service itself, paid for out of the subscription cancelations.

    It is pre-emptive, pre-Green payment for hybrid subscription+Gold that is a needless and senseless waste of a lot of public money for little OA in return. The only interest served by pre-emptive hybrid subscription+Gold is publshers’ interest in preserving their current bloated revenue streams, come what may.

    Harnad, S. (2007) The Green Road to Open Access: A Leveraged Transition. In: Anna Gacs (ed). The Culture of Periodicals from the Perspective of the Electronic Age. L’Harmattan. 99-106.

    Harnad, S. (2009) The PostGutenberg Open Access Journal. In: Cope, B. & Phillips, A (Eds.) The Future of the Academic Journal. Chandos.

    Harnad, S. (2010) No-Fault Peer Review Charges: The Price of Selectivity Need Not Be Access Denied or Delayed. D-Lib Magazine 16 (7/8).

    Harnad, S. (2011) Gold Open Access Publishing Must Not Be Allowed to Retard the Progress of Green Open Access Self-Archiving. Logos: The Journal of the World Book Community. 21(3-4): 86-93

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