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Comparing the Wellcome OA Policy and the RCUK (draft) Policy

Stevan Harnad harnad at ecs.soton.ac.uk
Wed May 18 18:36:01 EST 2005

On Wed, 18 May 2005, [identity deleted] wrote:

> ...[Concerning] the plans of the UK research councils [RCUK]
> and the Wellcome Trust to require their grantees to place copies of
> peer-reviewed research in open access archives some time after initial
> publication.
> -How effective will this move towards archives be if it relies on papers
> already published in peer-reviewed journals?

Maximally effective: Scientific/Scholarly research is reported in
peer-reviewed journals which first referee it to ensure that it is
correct and meets their established quality standards. (There are 24,000
peer-reviewed journals worldwide, across disciplines, their
track-records and standards known to research-users.)

That said, the self-archiving of pre-peer-review preprints is also to be
strongly encouraged. It is just that it is the accepted, refereed
version that is the main target of the OA movement.

> -Won't these journals just amend their copyright rules to prevent
> placement of their papers in archives?

Exactly the opposite. Publishers have been amending their copyright rules
to *allow* authors to self-archive, knowing that that is in the best
interests of research and researchers: 92% of journals have already
given their green light to author/institution self-archiving, the
biggest increase in green having occurred in the past 2 (OA) years:

> -In your view, what impact would widespread successful adoption of such
> archives have on researchers in different institutions (well resourced
> places... through to developing world)?

*All* researchers will benefit. As authors they will benefit from the enhanced
usage and impact:

And as users they will benefit from the enhanced access. Rich and poor
alike (the Harvards and the Have-Nots") will both benefit:

    "Access-Denial, Impact-Denial and the Developing and Developed World"

    "The Harvards, the Have-Nots, and Open Access"

> -Is the UK doing enough in this area and if not who should be doing more
> (government, academia, publishers)?

If RCUK announces the right self-archiving policy -- the one recommended
by the UK Select Committee 


then the UK will be leading the world in doing exactly the right thing
(although France, Netherlands, Sweden, and Australia are not far

The publishers have already done their part, in going green.

Academia needs to do more, not just write "resolutions" 
complaining about publishers' prices.

    "US University OA Resolutions Omit Most Important Component"

Nor is it enough for universities merely to create Institutional
Repositories and then wait for their researchers to fill them:

    "EPrints, DSpace or ESpace?"

Researchers will not self-archive until and unless they are *required*
to do so (less than half of them have self-archived even once, so only about
15% of annual articles are as yet being self-archived today). But if
researchers *are* required (by their employers and/or their funders)
to do so, 81% of them (in two international, interdisciplinary surveys)
reply that they *will* self-archive, and will do so *willingly*. Only 5%
reply that they will not comply:


So the solution is obvious: Each university needs to adopt a policy of
requiring the self-archiving of all of its research article output in
its own Institutional Repository,


exactly as recommended by the UK Select Committee as well as by


There are still a few wrinkles in the current draft of the RCUK policy
(see http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Hypermail/Amsci/4548.html )
but these can -- and I hope will -- be ironed out.

> -Which countries are at the forefront of this [self-archiving] revolution 
> and which are lagging behind?

The UK is leading, along with the Netherlands, Sweden, Australia and
France. The US is lagging, but it will catch up. So will Developing
Countries. All that's needed is the right example to serve as the
policy model for the world research community.

> ...the Guardian article list the US as having 127 archives and the UK
> as having 54. The link from your Canadian piece gives these numbers as
> 128 and 55. Have you any idea which are correct?

The Canadian piece (not yet published) is slightly older, so its figures
are a few weeks out of date (I will update them). The number is always
increasing. You can check it for yourself:


Expect a big burst in UK numbers after the (right) RCUK Policy


Stevan Harnad

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