“Why is open access so contentious? In large part, I think, because although OA began as a bottom-up revolution it was never widely embraced by researchers. However, OA advocates managed to persuade governments, funders and institutions that their colleagues should be compelled to embrace open access. This has seen a series of ever more stringent OA mandates being imposed on researchers, increasing the bureaucratic burden on them (amongst other things).
Monographs are a particularly contested area because of their length, their narrative form, and the licensing issues that this raises.
It has not helped that OA advocates promised open access would reduce the costs of scholarly communication. In reality, costs have risen.
This last point is particularly troublesome in the UK context as OA policies have been introduced without providing the necessary funding to support them. As a result, researchers can discover that they have been mandated to make their work open access but cannot afford to pay the article-processing charge (APC) needed if they want to satisfy the government’s preference for gold OA.
This has been a challenge even for researchers at wealthy and prestigious institutions. Last year, for instance, Oxford University library had to inform faculty that its OA fund had been exhausted and so they should delay submitting to journals until it had been replenished.
At the same time, the bureaucracy surrounding OA compliance has become so complex that universities have had to recruit legions of support staff to interpret and manage the escalating number of policies (some of which have proved contradictory). Indeed, such is the complexity now that even specialist support staff can struggle to decode the rules.
In short, the UK OA policy environment is far too complex, and it is seriously underfunded. For researchers, this is frustrating and depressing….”