[okfn-discuss] Discussion of Open Access and CC licences in science

Peter Murray-Rust pm286 at cam.ac.uk
Mon Dec 12 09:03:07 GMT 2011

I am pleased to see strong discussion on OKF lists. Several issues have
been raised (some by me). It may be useful to draw some distinctions.

* The context of the discussion is largely scholarly publication. If we
step outside this then I think there will be littel consensus
* There is a distinction between monographs and articles in serials. Open
Access for monographs is much less advanced than for serials.
* Most scholarly publication occurs in science and most of that is funded
directly or indirectly from the public purse (including charities). We can
exclude companies publishing their work.
* The public purse expects "Open" publication. It spends (world wide) about
100,000,000,000 -> 1,000,000,000,000 USD on the research (I have tried to
get better figures). The public purse spends about 10,000,000,000 USD on
publication (author and reader-sides).

The particular issue is that funders require Open Access and many
publishers resist this. Large amounts are spent on funded Open Access (up
to  5000 USD per article). There is no consensus on what funders or authors
get for this sum (a wide variety of licences are used - see Ross' fantastic
spreadsheet). My personal view is that 5000 USD for a NC licence (as
opposed to a free Green copy of the author's manuscript) represents almost
no added values.

If arts and humanities feel that CC-NC meets their needs - where there is
no implicit or explicitly funder - then I probably shan't challenge this.
But if CC-NC is used for science we shall have monumentally reduced the
value of the work that has been funded.

I suggest that we restrict a major part of our discussion to the area I
have outlined above - funded research isn scientific serials. If others
wish to discuss monographs, etc. then let's label them as separate

The urgent issue for science is to urge that all funded publication of
scientific articles should be CC-BY. The arguments about creative artists
protecting their work may be valid elsewhere but should not spill over into

Peter Murray-Rust
Reader in Molecular Informatics
Unilever Centre, Dep. Of Chemistry
University of Cambridge
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