‘Open access’ move puts thousands of UK jobs at risk

‘Open access’ move puts thousands of UK jobs at risk

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Up to £1billion of income and thousands of jobs could be placed at risk as a result of a move by Downing Street to allow Google and other digital search engines ‘open access’ to the nation’s best academic and scientific research.

A report commissioned by 10 Downing Street sociologist Dame Janet Finch will say that open access to public-funded research ‘offers significant social and economic benefits’.

The study, due for release today, is part of a drive initiated by former Downing Street adviser Steve Hilton aimed at turning Britain into a digital hub attracting investment from internet behemoths such as Google.

But UK businesses fear that the proposals will destroy Britain’s highly-regarded academic publishing industry that modifies raw research, publishes it in the form of academic magazines, journals and books and exports it to the rest of the world.

One leading publishing group said the move to provide all of Britain’s academic output online for nothing could destroy a £1billion industry that employs 10,000 people here and in its overseas operations.

Much of the scientific work from the nation’s leading research universities is passed on to the academic publishing industry where it is subjected to so-called ‘peer review’, or examination by experts, before it is published in journals and books that are also available online.

The material is a valuable source of income to UK publishing houses such as Reed Elsevier, one of Britain’s leading publishers with a market value of £6billion, as well as the hugely-respected Oxford University and Cambridge University Presses.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/news/article-2160753/Open-access-puts-UK-jobs-risk.html#ixzz1yKZoTSmV


  1. Yes, but why do you think this (open access) is even being discussed? Because Elsevier and other publishers are making absolutely huge and unjustifiable profits, having essentially cornered the market in academic discourse. If they weren’t so greedy it would never have got onto the radar.


    1. The Finch Report is a successful case of lobbying by publishers to protect the interests of publishing at the expense of the interests of research and the public that funds research.

    2. The Finch Report proposes to do precisely what the (since discredited and withdrawn) US Research Works Act (RWA) failed to do: to push “Green” OA self-archiving (by authors, and Green OA self-archiving mandates by authors’ funders and institutions) off the UK policy agenda as inadequate and ineffective and, to boot, likely to destroy both publishing and peer review — and to replace them instead with a vague, slow evolution toward “Gold” OA publishing, at the publishers’ pace and price.

    3. The result would be very little OA, very slowly, and at a high Gold OA price (an extra 50-60 million pounds per year), taken out of already scarce UK research funds, instead of the rapid and cost-free OA growth vouchsafed by Green OA mandates from funders and universities.

    4. Both the resulting loss in UK’s Green OA mandate momentum and the expenditure of further funds to pay pre-emptively for Gold OA would be a major historic (and economic) set-back for the UK, which has until now been the worldwide leader in OA. The UK would, if the Finch Report were heeded, be left behind by the EU (which has mandated Green OA for all research it funds) and the US (which has a Bill in Congress to do the same — the same Bill that the recently withdrawn RWA Bill tried to counter).

    5. The UK already has 40% Green OA (twice as much as the rest of the world) compared to 4% Gold OA (less than the rest of the world, because it costs extra money and Green OA provides OA at no extra cost). Rather than heeding the Finch Report, which has so obviously fallen victim to the publishing lobby, the UK should shore up and extend its cost-free Green OA funder and institutional mandates to make them more effective and mutually reinforcing, so that UK Green OA can grow quickly to 100%.

    6. Publishers will adapt. In the internet era, the research publishing tail should not be permitted to wag the research dog, at the expense of the access, usage, applications, impact and progress of the research in which the UK tax-payer has invested so heavily, in increasingly hard economic times. The benefits — to research, researchers, their institutions, the vast R&D industry, and the tax-paying public — of cost-free Green Open Access to publicly funded research vastly outweigh the evolutionary pressure — natural, desirable and healthy — to adapt to the internet era that mandated Green OA will exert on the publishing industry.

    If the UK %Gold is currently lower than the current %Gold globally [as measured by Laasko/Bjork’s latest estimates — we have not yet checked that directly] then the likely explanation is that where cost-free Green is mandated, there is less demand for costly Gold.

    That makes sense: it shows why paying for Gold, pre-emptively, now, at today’s asking prices, while still locked into subscriptions, instead of just providing cost-free Green is a foolish strategy –and it makes the recent recommendations of the Finch report even more counter-productive. The time to pay for Gold is when global Green has made subscriptions unsustainable, forced publishing to downsize to peer review alone, and released the subscription cancelation funds to pay for it on the Gold OA model. Then, and only then, will Gold OA’s time have come.

    Gargouri, Y., Hajjem, C., Lariviere, V., Gingras, Y., Brody, T., Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2010) Self-Selected or Mandated, Open Access Increases Citation Impact for Higher Quality Research. PLOS ONE 5 (10) e13636

    Harnad, S. (2007) The Green Road to Open Access: A Leveraged Transition. In: Anna Gacs. The Culture of Periodicals from the Perspective of the Electronic Age L’Harmattan. 99-106.

    Harnad, S. (2010) No-Fault Peer Review Charges: The Price of Selectivity Need Not Be Access Denied or Delayed. D-Lib Magazine 16 (7/8).

    Harnad, S. (2011) Gold Open Access Publishing Must Not Be Allowed to Retard the Progress of Green Open Access Self-Archiving Logos: The Journal of the World Book Community 21(3-4): 86-93

    Harnad, S. (2010) The Immediate Practical Implication of the Houghton Report: Provide Green Open Access Now. Prometheus 28 (1): 55-59.

  3. This will provide some context for those discussing the cost of launching and operating scholarly journals . . .
    Public Library of Science was launched with a $9,000,000 grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Dec. 17, 2002
    http://www.moore.org/grant.aspx?id=1054 + http://www.moore.org/newsitem.aspx?id=524
    PLoS received an additional grant for on-going support in May 2006. The $1,000,000 came from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

    Milbank Memorial Fund:
    Form 990 for the Milbank Foundation shows a number of events and their quarterly journal costing the foundation about $815,920. (http://www.eri-nonprofit-salaries.com/index.cfm?FuseAction=NPO.Form990&EIN=135562282&Year=2012)
    Form 990 Return: Organization Exempt from Income Tax.
    From Form 990 you can find: Expenses $7,913,535 Revenue $2,082,940 — the two key financial indicators for HealthAffairs. The difference coming from Project Hope.
     On this form the description reads:
    Project HOPE owns and publishes Health Affairs, the leading journal of health policy and thought research. The peer-reviewed journal appears monthly in print with additional daily online web exclusive materials. Published since 1981, The Washington Post has called Health Affairs the bible of health policy. Susan Dentzer, formerly head of PBS NewsHour’s health unit, serves as Editor-in-Chief. All papers undergo external peer review and are authored by leading academics from fields that intersect with health policy such as economics, public health, sociology, political science, medicine and nursing , to name a few. Government policymakers and health industry decision makers from the U.S. and around the glove also write for and read the publication and its website. Health Affairs is available via subscription and every article the journal has ever published is available online at http://www.healthaffairs.org. All abstracts, tables of contents and many articles are available for free online. The journal is also free to online readers from the lowest income nations.
    [This is available at: http://www.projecthope.org/assets/documents/Project-HOPE-2010-IRS-990-Form.pdf%5D

  4. The goal should be to have healthy scholarly publishing system (i.e., a system in which legitimate scholarship is accessible as widely as possible under an economic model that enables that system to continue). Job preservation is not the goal. Change in any industry brings new structures and economics — and yes, even possible job losses. Unfortunately, that is the cost of change.

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