Will open access article processing fee publishers do the right thing and join OA advocates in calling for friendly amendment to the RCUK policy?

25/09/2012 – 8:43 am
Tony McCall

This summer the Research Councils U.K. adopted a stronger open access policy, as explained by Peter Suber in the September 2012 SPARC Open Access Newsletter. While the strong support for open access, including funding for open access publishing, is welcome news, this policy includes some ill-thought-out provisions and open access advocates are calling for revisions before the policy is implemented; see Peter’s article for some objections and recommendations.

In brief, the reason this is a bad policy is because it requires researchers to select a gold open access option when one is available, and provides block funding to UK universities to pay article processing fees. This gives publishers a strong incentive to backtrack on green self-archiving policies, adding to the delay or embargo period or removing this option altogether. By making this requirement and providing funding, this is in effect a “blank cheque” policy which is certain to raises the costs of scholarly publishing.

This is why: if you had a business and customers had to buy what you sold regardless of the cost, how might this impact your pricing policy? What if you’re a corporation and legally bound to provide shareholders with the best profit returns that you can? This, from my perspective, is an example of a government just throwing money at a problem without thinking it through – very out of character for the current UK government. If they have cash to spare, for heaven’s sakes why do they not use it to subsidize students rather than publishers?

More at:


author: Heather Morrison
source: The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics (21/9/12)

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