[Open-access] Criticisms of Finch proposals

Peter Murray-Rust pm286 at cam.ac.uk
Mon Dec 10 02:14:47 UTC 2012

I also agree with this analysis and add some comments

On Sat, Dec 8, 2012 at 4:34 PM, Reckling, Falk, Dr. <Falk.Reckling at fwf.ac.at
> wrote:

> I fully agree with Ross. It makes no sense to criticize<
> http://dict.tu-chemnitz.de/english-german/criticize.html> the RCUK policy
> without having proper alternatives. Sure, the RUCK policy is an experiment.
> But we need such experiments like this or SCOAP³ because other alternatives
> (incl. green) do not really work, especially they do not obviously change
> the publication system based on subscriptions so far. (To my mind, PLoS and
> similar gold models have been affected the system more effectively than
> most of the puristic "green-only-policies".)

The major infuences have been:
* the initial *idea* of "open access" (credit to Stevan Harnad, Peter Suber
and the BOAI group)
* BMC which showed that honest OA publishing can work and make an honest
* the thousands of small honest OA publishers (often zero-cash) who show
that this is what many in the community want
* PLoS
* Wellcome Trust
(and apologies for those I have forgotten)

All these have generated focus and shown a positive and useful way forward.
The RCUK is in a difficult position - Finch didn't give any real help.
After years of community apathy the publishing market is completely broken
and RCUK has made it clear that they want to change it. It is impossible
for them to do this without upsetting people. The major initial benefit is
not to create the system of the medium future (which no-one can foresee)
but to catalyse change - which they have effectively done.

I have serious problems with both the green and the gold approach and even
more serious concerns with hybrid gold. Green legitimizes the publishers -
it can only work if there are traditional journal subscriptions. The idea
that green will reduce prices is simplstic and there is no evidence it will
happen. It legitimizes the "possession" of content by publishers. And many
publishers (e.g. ACS) will *never* allow it. Gold will only work if the
pricing model is seriously changed. It also legitimizes current publishers
and invites irresponsible ones. I cannot see it working well without a
regulatory system. And without such a system hybrid is simply a way of
giviing publishers more money - there is no competition so no pressure on

> One of the major lessons from databases like www.journalprices.com<
> http://www.journalprices.com/> is: If we do not want that oligopolistic
> commercial publishers dominate the prices for publications, public research
> funders, public research institutions and charities and should increase
> their support for cost-effective alternative models like PEERJ, Forum of
> Mathematics, IZA Journals, elife and others ...
> And finally, who cares that publishers make profits if the costs are
> reasonable?
> The *costs* are reasonable - estimates about 200 USD per submission for an
efficient publisher. (although the actual efficiency of most publishers and
the quality of the product is under no pressure and often  awful). It's the
prices which are inexcusable.

We have to separate the production process + open availability from the
academic-glory of publication. Readers do not need and I suspect do not
want what the publishers provide. Authors increasingly care about the
glory, not the actual product.

I can see how the problem can be addressed technically - I cannot
immediately see how it can be solved politically. The danger is that if it
isn't we will get a Maxwell/Murdoch-like "solution".


> Best,
> Falk
> ________________________________
> Von: open-access-bounces at lists.okfn.org [
> open-access-bounces at lists.okfn.org]" im Auftrag von "Ross Mounce [
> ross.mounce at gmail.com]
> Gesendet: Samstag, 08. Dezember 2012 16:31
> An: Jonathan Gray
> Cc: open-access at lists.okfn.org
> Betreff: Re: [Open-access] Criticisms of Finch proposals
> Everything I've read on that blog site (not just that post) is extremely
> (overly) negative about the Finch policy IMO. I've so far resisted on
> directly commenting on it because I think it's so obviously misguided but
> since you've asked...
>   *   Calling 'Gold' Open Access 'pay-to-say' is plain exaggeration. There
> are many different good, high-quality Gold OA journals that offer £0 APC
> (fee-free) publishing. E.g. Acta Palaeontologia Polonica, Journal of
> Machine Learning Research, eLife...  Furthermore, more than half of the
> journals listed in DOAJ are £0 APC (fee-free) source:
> http://www.openaccesspublishing.org/apc2/
>   *   Even of those journals that do charge, the fee is small, averaging
> just $906 as per the Solomon & Bjork DOAJ-based study. Humanities journals
> like Sage Open are charging<http://www.sagepub.com/sageopen/landing.sp>
> just $195<http://www.sagepub.com/sageopen/landing.sp>
>   *   That post itself seems to completely ignore that Finch allows the
> Green route. So one can publish as much as one likes via that route for
> free. There's no need to 'lobby' for green OA - it's expressly allowed and
> inevitably *must* be used - we can't afford to do 100% Gold in yr 1.
> 'Academic Freedom' is not imperilled because not all publications will
> have to be paid for by the author, free Gold options & Green routes exist
> and are allowed and encouraged. I'd argue the policy actually lessens
> 'Academic Inequality' because now everyone will be able to read all our
> outputs, instead of just rich-institution researchers. As previously
> mentioned, no-one need 'pay-to-say' as there are plenty of free options.
> The bit about the British Copyright Council (no source given either) being
> strongly opposed to the usage of the Creative Commons Attribution License
> (CC BY) also cracked me up! Of course they would be! I doubt the British
> Copyright Council would support the usage of any Creative Commons licence
> tbh.
> Green is allowed, the policy has been made, it's not going to change...
> I'd much prefer if people spent their time & effort on positive,
> constructive activities like raising awareness of journals that allow
> RCUK-compliant Green OA, or low or no-cost Gold OA journals. This is the
> action they should be taking IMO.
> On 8 December 2012 11:30, Jonathan Gray <jonathan.gray at okfn.org<mailto:
> jonathan.gray at okfn.org>> wrote:
> Hi all,
> I'm sure many of you will be aware of the criticisms of the UK
> government's Finch open access proposals. For example:
> http://thedisorderofthings.com/2012/12/04/open-access-hefce-ref2020-and-the-threat-to-academic-freedom/
> While the inclusion of CC-BY as a standard means it is compliant with the
> latest Budapest Open Access Initiative recommendations [1], as a humanities
> researcher I can see why people are complaining about the Article
> Processing Charges (dubbed ‘pay-to-say’).
> I wonder if anyone who has been following the debate knows of any concrete
> suggestions for improvements to the Finch model which retain CC-BY as a
> standard, but which would enable scholars to have more choice as to where
> and how they publish?
> All the best,
> Jonathan
> [1]
> http://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/openaccess/boai-10-recommendations
> --
> Jonathan Gray<http://jonathangray.org/> | @jwyg<http://twitter.com/jwyg>
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> -/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-
> Ross Mounce
> PhD Student & Open Knowledge Foundation Panton Fellow
> Fossils, Phylogeny and Macroevolution Research Group
> University of Bath, 4 South Building, Lab 1.07
> http://about.me/rossmounce
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Peter Murray-Rust
Reader in Molecular Informatics
Unilever Centre, Dep. Of Chemistry
University of Cambridge
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