Mistake to focus on gold open access

Finch Group report came out summer of 2012. It was recommended that research in UK should be made open access and the chosen road would be the so called Gold open access. The Gold open access means that the author pays to get an article published instead of the reader paying for access to the article. The problem is that this business model to finance scientific journals has created a market for gray publishers or vanity press. These are publishers which charge money for publishing. They publish everything without a proper peer review. (There are legitimate journals charching authors also.)

The report was discussed everywhere and I have always wondered why you should use money for Gold open access when you can use the Green way to make research  available. The Green open access means that the researcher deposits a copy of the research article in the researcher’s institutional repository. The problem is that many of the traditional publishers have limited the authors’ possibilities to do this by using embargo: it is not allowed to make the article available until 6, 12, 18 months or more after publishing. This is not open access as it was meant to be.

Now the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee has come out with a report saying that the Brittish government has made a mistake by recommending the gold open access. The committee is saying that the vital role of Green open access and repositories need to be given due regard when the UK is moving towards full open access.

Committee’s report recommends that:

  • The Government take an active role in promoting standardisation and compliance across subject and institutional repositories [paragraph 25]
  • RCUK reinstate and strengthen the immediate deposit mandate in its original policy and improve the monitoring and enforcement of mandated deposit [paragraph 31]
  • The Government and RCUK revise their policies to place an upper limit of 6 month embargoes on STEM[1] subject research and up to 12 month embargoes for HASS[2] subject research [paragraph 50]
  • The Government mitigate against the impact on universities of paying Article Processing Charges out of their own reserves [paragraph 64]
  • If the preference for Gold is maintained, the Government and RCUK should amend their policies so that APCs[3] are only paid to publishers of pure Gold rather than hybrid journals to eliminate the risk of double-dipping[4] [paragraph 77]

Source: www.parlimet.uk / Commons Select Committee
Footnotes added by the author of this blog post.

It is good that this has come now. Although it might delay the transition to full open access it is important that the Green open access is not overlooked.

Pieta Eklund

[1] Science, Technology, Engineering & Matehematics

[2] Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences

[3] Article Processing Charge, the payment that authors pay for publishing their work.

[4] Hybrid journals have articles which are both open access and toll access. To get access to the toll access articles you have to have a subcribtion to the journal. When they use both APC and subscribtion they are double dipping into the university’s funds.