Guide for the Perplexed: Re: UK Select Committee Inquiry

Stevan Harnad harnad at ecs.soton.ac.uk
Mon Jan 17 15:13:06 EST 2005


Pertinent Prior AmSci Topic Threads:

    "The UK report, press coverage, and the Green and Gold Roads to Open Access"
    http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Hypermail/Amsci/3871.html

    "Guide for the Perplexed: Re: UK Select Committee Inquiry"
    http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Hypermail/Amsci/4131.html

    "Drubbing Peter to Pay Paul"
    http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Hypermail/Amsci/4151.htm

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In the Guardian, Monday January 17, 2005, 
("Government warned over 'lack of science policy'")
http://education.guardian.co.uk/higher/sciences/story/0,12243,1392477,00.html
Donald MacLeod wrote

> Dr Gibson and his colleagues have also clashed with the government
> over open access publishing of scientific journals...
> Although their report, Free for all? won considerable support
> for the idea of an "author-pays" model which would then give universities
> in the UK - and the developing world - free access to papers, ministers
> have declined to try it out.

The press just keeps on getting it wrong!

Yes, there was considerable support for the "author-pays" Open Access (OA)
journal publishing cost-recovery model (the "golden road" to OA). But that
was *not* the main thrust of Dr. Gibson's report or its recommendations!

The report did recommend further experimentation with this model, and
some support to pay the author fees, but it made a far, far stronger
recommendation, insofar as OA is concerned, and that was to mandate
self-archiving all UK research articles -- on the author's institutional
website, free for all -- irrespective of whether they were published in
OA or non-OA journals (the "green road" to OA).
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200304/cmselect/cmsctech/399/39903.htm

A government cannot mandate a business model, but it can attach
conditions to the research it funds, to ensure maximal usage and impact
from that funded research.

Yet this recommended mandate to make all UK research articles OA through
self-archiving (green) was rejected too, and all on the basis of arguments
against gold ("drubbing Peter to pox Paul"). And this conflation of
green with gold -- Peter with Paul, OA provision with OA publication --
is once again being perpetuated here by this article.

Mandating green vs. merely encouraging further experimentation with gold is what
the 2nd report needs to sort out, clearly, so both MPs and the Press manage to get
the point this time:

    "We hope that the government will use the opportunity of our second
    report on scientific publications to formulate a response that
    addresses the policy deficiency that we have identified," added the
    annual report.

Stevan Harnad




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