[Open-access] Open Access in the UK: Reinventing the Big Deal

Peter Murray-Rust pm286 at cam.ac.uk
Tue Oct 2 11:43:05 UTC 2012

Thanks Richard (and by reference) Jan.

I am intending to blog on this issue. Maybe this is the start

On Tue, Oct 2, 2012 at 11:16 AM, Richard Poynder <ricky at richardpoynder.co.uk
> wrote:

> Love it or loathe it, the recently announced Open Access policy from
> Research Councils UK has certainly divided the OA movement. Despite
> considerable criticism, however, RCUK has refused to amend its policy.****
> ** **
> So what will be its long-term impact? ****
> ** **
> Critics fear that RCUK has opened the door to the reinvention of the Big
> Deal. Pioneered by Academic Press in 1996, the Big Deal involves publishers
> selling large bundles of electronic journals on multi-year contracts.
> Initially embraced with enthusiasm, the Big Deal is widely loathed today.

It is loathed because it was run as a cartel by publishers. I have been
arguing that there should be a few central purchasing points , e.g.
nationally, and that they should regulate pricess (?and quality?). I think
Brazil does this and I'd be grateful for more info

> ****
> ** **
> However, currently drowned out by the hubbub of criticism, there are
> voices that support the RCUK policy. Jan Velterop, for instance, believes
> it will be good for Open Access.****
> ** **
> Velterop also believes that the time is ripe for the creation of a New Big
> Deal (NBD). The NBD would consist of “a national licensing agreement” that
> provided researchers with free-at-the-point-of-use access to all the papers
> sitting behind subscription paywalls, *plus* a “national procurement
> service” that provided free-at-the-point-of-use OA publishing services for
> researchers, allowing them to publish in OA journals without having to foot
> the bill themselves.

I agree.

> ****
> ** **
> Velterop’s views are not to be dismissed lightly. Former employee of
> Elsevier, Springer and Nature, Velterop was one of the small group of
> people who attended the 2001 Budapest meeting that saw the birth of the
> Open Access movement, and he was instrumental in the early success of OA
> publisher BioMed Central. ****
> ** **
> Moreover, during his time at Academic Press, Velterop was a co-architect
> of the original Big Deal.****
> ** **
> More on this, and a Q&A with Velterop, can be read here:****
> **

<rant corrections="invited">
I am in favour of OKF-Open Access, of course. The really serious problems
with "Open Access" are:
* there is 15 billion dollars at stake so we can expect commercial
attitudes including dirty tricks
* the universities don't care about Open Access. They have done almost
nothing over 10 years. A few woolly pseduo-mandates. No cash, no
technology, no boycotts.
* the University repositories are awful. Run by the wrong people for the
wrong reasons and with the wrong technology (OKF could do this much much
better with Open biblio, CKAN/Datahub)
* The "open" in OA has been degraded by the Harnadites to almost
Humpty-Dumpty meaninglessness.
* the "Open Access" movement has disintegrated into a formless oligarchy.
Normal people are excluded (they are trashed, in public, onthe GOAL list
and only JanV and I have the bottle to stand up to this). They EOS
(Enabling Open Scholarship) is about as Open as a masonic lodge

The RCUK has inherited 10 years of inaction and incompetence from the
Universities who are clearly not to be trusted with this. The key thing
they have done is to assert that they are taking control. Whether they have
the details right is irrelevant.

And I believe that OKF has something to offer and so have copied in some
funders. I think that Openbiblio is already close to having appropriate
metadata. And the related tools will help to create repositories that are
fit for purpose.

And (unlike GOAL whose Animal Farm sheep drown discussion with the bleat
"Gold is good but Green is be-e-e-etter") this list is open to all ideas
and encourages rational discussion and constructive solutions.  I am
neither pro- or -anti- Gold or Green - they are both approaches which offer
partial but nowhere near complete solutions.

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