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[Journal-notes] Re: RCUK policy on open access

Stevan Harnad harnad at ecs.soton.ac.uk
Tue Jun 28 12:53:21 EST 2005

On Tue, 28 Jun 2005, Michael Fraser wrote:

> >> RCUK PROPOSAL: There will be no obligation to set up a repository where 
> >> none exists at present.
> >
> I would suggest that rather than stating 'no obligation,' the RCs [instead]
> encourage grant proposals to include a proportion of the cost of running
> an IR as a directly allocated 'infrastructure' cost (if not directly
> incurred) under the FEC regime. This would complement the explicit
> encouragement to budget for publishing in author-pays journals.

Michael Fraser -- who is in charge of creating Oxford University's Institutional
Repository -- is *so* right!


Consider the present logic of the RCUK proposal:

    (1) You are *required* to self-archive your RCUK-funded research
    -- except if your institution has no OA Institutional Repository
    (presumably because your institution can't afford one)! In that
    case you may opt out of the RCUK requirement...

    (2) You are *encouraged* to publish your RCUK-funded research in an
    OA ("gold") journal (if/when a suitable one exists: 5% of journals
    are OA gold today, whereas 92% are "green" on self-archiving). RCUK
    will help cover with the costs!

In other words, RCUK proposes to let fundees opt out of the self-archiving
"requirement" if their institutions can't afford an IR -- instead of
offering to help fund IRs instead (as the UK Select Committee had
proposed). At the same time, RCUK does propose to help fund OA publishing,
which they are (rightly) only encouraging rather than requiring! This,
even though the cost per article is *vastly* lower for OA self-archiving,
and despite the immediate scope for 100% OA via OA self-archiving (when 92%
of journals are already green) is vastly greater than the scope for 100% OA
via OA publishing (when only 5% of journals gold)!

So Michael is spot-on: RCUK should help fund compliance with the
requirement, rather than allowing opt-out while funding compliance with
the mere encouragement (at a far, far greater cost per article!)

Stevan Harnad

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