Sunday, May 29, 2016

OA EU the OB and who pays

Eli, as he has mentioned before, is a very old bunny.  Back when he was not a very old bunny he took a class from another very old bunny who shall remain nameless, but was very well connected to the scientific/government nomenklatura even further back and who liked to reminisce.

The old Bunny (OB below) one day started for no particular reason to discuss scientific publishing.  He said that after the war (for bunnies of OBs age that would be WWII) there were discussions about how to support scientific research and publishing.  As far as publishing went, the OB said there were two choices, send money directly to the scientific societies such as ACS/APS, etc. or provide money within grants (which were increasing by leaps and bounds) to subsidize publication.

The latter was chosen for the political reason that it would be hard to NOT subsidize commercial publishers if the former were taken, and if commercial publishers were subsidized there would be a mighty hue and cry across the land.

Twitter is abuzz with the EU announcing that from then on (2020) all publications will have to be Open Access (OA). The UK is already there so Brexet will make no difference one way or another.  Victor V is really excited about this. 

Which brings Eli to a couple of points.  In the last few years granting agencies have been writing open access rules into their guidelines.  For example the NSF Public Access Plan reads
NSF will require that either the version of record or the final accepted peer-reviewed manuscript in peer-reviewed scholarly journals and papers in juried conference proceedings or transactions described in the scope above (Section 2.0) and resulting from new awards resulting from proposals submitted, or due, on or after the January 2016 effective date must:  
• Be deposited in a public access compliant repository designated by NSF;
• Be available for download, reading, and analysis free of charge no later than 12 months after initial publication;
• Possess a minimum set of machine-readable metadata elements in a metadata record to be made available free of charge upon initial publication (Section 7.3.1);
• Be managed to ensure long-term preservation (Section 7.7); and
• Be reported in annual and final reports during the period of the award with a unique persistent identifier that provides links to the full text of the publication as well as other metadata elements. 
The NIH Public Access Plan differs in one significant way imposed by the law
The Director of the National Institutes of Health shall require that all investigators funded by the NIH submit or have submitted for them to the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication, to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after the official date of publication: Provided, That the NIH shall implement the Public Access Policy in a manner consistent with copyright law
Which means that NIH assumes the burden of maintaining the PubMed Central database in perpetuity.

The UK Research Councils have a similar policy, but have explicitly grabbed the bunny by the ears
It is planned that the funding provided by Research Councils to support open access will be increased over the next five years until all published peer‐reviewed papers which derive from Research Council funding are open access (whether published via the ‘gold’ or ‘green’ routes).  This increase in funding during transition reflects an estimate of the time that will be needed for researchers, institutions and publishers to make the transition to a fully Open Access model.  It will also allow publication funding already provided through direct and indirect costs on current grants to be fully utilized.
and they provide a table of block granted payments to the various UK universities.  Just for local interest, Edinburgh gets 1.1 M£, Bristol 0.78 M£, Sussex 0.22.  The total is about 22.6 M£ per year.

Now librarians are caught between the devil (Springer) and the deep blue sea (faculty).  The devil has squeezed the libraries declining budgets dry, while ACS, APS, etc. are not so avaricious their journal packages still cost a bit in an era of declining resources, but librarians are librarians and the point of a library is not to have today's journal available today, but in 100 years or more.  There is always the 100 year old article/book that is still relevant today so they have to ask what guarantee there is that a repository will not have expired, that the 8" floppy, or cd that the information is on will still be readable, etc.  A librarian sees great virtue in paper, even papers not published on acid free paper.

In particular were Eli a librarian, he would be greatly troubled by the suggestion that colleges and universities establish and maintain the repositories for their own faculty's writings.  Who knows what will happen to that college?  Who knows if a publisher who has a repository will go out of business, or even worse, sell out to some dudebro like Martin Shkreli.

So OA has to confront not only right now, but way out when and that is not so easy.

So, what is the answer?

Eli suggests Global Access, a set of linked repositories maintained by all of the funding agencies and learned societies of the world with a uniform Article Processing Fee structure.  If a publisher wants more, let the authors take it out of their own pockets, or rebated overhead, or grandma's cookie jar. Whatever

Authors shall be responsible not only for depositing electronic versions of their articles, but also for ensuring that print versions are available either through commercial or learned society publications/journals or through a library accessible through the World Cat.

If the later is chosen the depositing library shall be responsible for obtaining a unique DOI for the document with appropriate metadata so that it can be searched and identified. 

Of course, it could all be left to Sci Hub.  Maybe not.


Russell Seitz said...

NATO OSI did so well by Captain Bob that he was able to afford a very large yacht until the very end of his reign as Proceedings Czar.

Bernard J. said...

Australia too:

Policy mandates are cleavers waving at the Polish Chinas, which is a Good Thing, but the blood on the floor is the growing of Beall's list.

Eli is a wise bunny: hopefully the way forward will resemble something of his suggestions.

Anonymous said...

Astronmy has been putting pre-prints onto ArXiV since about 1992, and it works very well. It's the final publication version, but it is a final pre-publication version. You can access almost any paper you want from the last ~25 years. It's one reason I object to the UK providing extra money for open access; it's perfectly possible to make publications open access without paying extra. In fact, I recently asked a journal which copyright option to select, as it wasn't obvious on the form. They responded to say that I shouldn't bother with option 1 as it was expensive, the paper would be open access in 2 years time anyway, and I could put a pre-publication copy of the final version on the ArXiV straight away anyway.

William Connolley said...

ATTP> It's the final publication version, but it is a final pre-publication version

I think ATTP has missed out a "not".

> The UK is already there so

Is it? I read the policy you linked to, which is all very yummy, though not actually easy to pull any specifics out of. Having just checked, NERC doesn't seem to be following it. It has, nominally an open access repository, but it doesn't seem to actually offer access, in the couple of tests I tried.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, "It's NOT the final publication version..." and I can't spell Astronomy either ;-)

KAP said...

Providing funding for publication via grants is just fine. What's NOT fine is when publishers, having accepted such page fees from authors (which derive from the taxpayers) then decide that's just not enough and ALSO charge libraries, and by extension the public, to read the research that the public has already paid for, and already paid to have published.

The publishers have nobody and nothing to blame except their own greed now that the public has rebelled against such an unfair system.

EliRabett said...

KAP, the page charges cover part of the cost, subscriptions another part. If you want open access more than page charges will be needed to cover costs. It's like overhead, a lot of colleagues think space, water, electricity, etc are free.