Economic Evidence against Finch Hypothesis on Gold & Green OA Priorities

John Houghton and Alma Swan have published several important and influential economic analyses of the costs and benefits of Open Access (OA), Gold OA publishing and Green OA self-archiving worldwide and for the UK.

The specific implications of their findings for the UK Finch Committee recommendations and RCUK OA Policy as well as for worldwide OA policy are very clearly and explicitly stated in their latest paper (Houghton & Swan 2012):

Houghton, John W. & Swan, Alma (2012)
Planting the green seeds for a golden harvest
Comments and clarifications on ?Going for Gold?


      ”The economic modelling work we have carried out over the past few years has been referred to and cited a number of times in the discussions of the Finch report and subsequent policy developments in the UK. We are concerned that there may be some misinterpretation of this work.

      ”This short paper sets out the main conclusions of our work, which was designed to explore the overall costs and benefits of Open Access (OA), as well as identify the most cost-effective policy basis for transitioning to OA at national and institutional levels.

      ”The main findings are that disseminating research results via OA would be more cost-effective than subscription publishing. If OA were adopted worldwide, the net benefits of Gold OA would exceed those of Green OA. However, we are not in an OA world, nor are we likely to be in such a world in the foreseeable future.

      ”At the institutional level, during a transitional period when subscriptions are maintained, the cost of unilaterally adopting Green OA is much lower than the cost of Gold OA ? with Green OA self-archiving costing average institutions sampled around one-fifth the amount that Gold OA might cost, and as little as one-tenth as much for the most research intensive university.

      ”Hence, we conclude that the most affordable and cost-effective means of moving towards OA is through Green OA, which can be adopted unilaterally at the funder, institutional, sectoral and national levels at relatively little cost.” [emphasis added]

Further References:

Finch, Dame Janet et al (2012) Accessibility, sustainability, excellence: how to expand access to research publications. Report of the Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings.

Harnad, S. (2012) Why the UK Should Not Heed the Finch Report. LSE Impact of Social Sciences Blog, Summer Issue

Harnad, S (2012) United Kingdom’s Open Access Policy Urgently Needs a Tweak. D-Lib Magazine Volume 18, Number 9/10 September/October 2012

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

Houghton, J.W. & Oppenheim, C. (2010) The Economic Implications of Alternative Publishing Models. Prometheus 28 (1) 41-54

Houghton, J.W., Rasmussen, B., Sheehan, P.J., Oppenheim, C., Morris, A., Creaser, C., Greenwood, H., Summers, M. and Gourlay, A. (2009) Economic Implications of Alternative Scholarly Publishing Models: Exploring the Costs and Benefits, Report to The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) by Victoria University & Loughborough University.
See also the related addendum

RCUK (2012) Policy on Access to Research Outputs RCUK Research Councils UK

Swan, A. and Houghton, J.W. (2012) Going for Gold? The costs and benefits of Gold Open Access for UK research institutions: Further economic modelling, Report to the UK Open Access Implementation Group (July 2012).

Giving and Giving Thanks

Here in the U.S. we’re getting ready for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving holiday, which means that PLOS ONE is taking a few days off.

To get in the mood for the holiday, here’s an important reminder, courtesy of a recent article: toddlers show a greater emotional reward from giving than from receiving, suggesting that we might all be better off with more giving in our lives.

Lara Aknin and colleagues from University of British Columbia reported this result in Giving Leads to Happiness in Young Children, published last June. The paper describes experiments demonstrating that toddlers show greater happiness when giving than when receiving. Furthermore, the authors found that children were happiest after “costly giving,” in which they had to sacrifice something of their own in order to give a gift. This effect may seem counterintuitive, but the authors write that it provides important insight into observed prosocial behavior among humans which has been difficult to explain.

Citation: Aknin LB, Hamlin JK, Dunn EW (2012) Giving Leads to Happiness in Young Children. PLoS ONE 7(6): e39211. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039211

Image credit: asenat29 on flickr

What’s this graph?

Rich Apodaca created an instructive approach to blogging information by deliberately cutting annotations off graphs to make the reader think about them (e.e.

So, what’s the following graph, and why does it matter? When I get an answer I’ll reveal its source, and what it means. I shouldn’t have to explain its importance:

UPDATE: Now we have had suggestions, I’ll reveal. Thanks Tom and Alex for suggestions. Here is it. The inexorable march of Mickey Mouse.

The vertical axis is the number of years for copyright duration in the US. So something created now will remain in copyright until well after the end of this century. In the age of the Internet Enlightenment that is barbarism. I have temporarily lost the attribution, sorry].

Here’s TechDirt: This is good stuff from the **Republicans**. They have realised that actually copyright is anti-free-market.

House Republicans: Copyright Law Destroys Markets; It’s Time For Real Reform    

from the congress-wakes-up dept

Update: Wow. It took less than 24 hours for the RSC to fold to Hollywood pressure. They have now retracted the report and attempted to claim that it was not properly vetted.

Right after the Presidential election last week, Chris Sprigman and Kal Raustiala penned an opinion piece suggesting that one way the Republicans could “reset”, and actually attract the youth vote, would be to become the party of copyright reform. We had actually wondered if that was going to happen back during the SOPA fight, when it was the Republicans who bailed on the bill, while most of those who kept supporting it were Democrats. Since then, however, there hadn’t been much movement. Until now. Late on Friday, the Republican Study Committee, which is the caucus for the House Republicans, released an amazing document debunking various myths about copyright law and suggesting key reforms.

If you’re used to Congress not understanding copyright, prepare to be surprised. It’s clear, thorough and detailed about just how problematic copyright has become and why it needs to change. To give you a sense of where the document heads, note the final line:

Current copyright law does not merely distort some markets — rather it destroys entire markets.


In Science, STM publishers are destroying current and future markets. And, unlike Disney, they didn’t even write or draw the stuff they stop us using.





Winter Service Update

Happy holidays from the staff at PLOS ONE!

As we are well into the winter months, we wanted to take this opportunity to notify our authors that there may be a slight delay in the review of their manuscript if they submit anytime between now and the end of January. This is because many of our editorial board members and reviewers are away from the office for the holidays and/or travel. Please rest assured that we will do our utmost to process your manuscript in a timely manner, but be aware that historically we have experienced some delays during the winter holidays. We will endeavor to ensure that all manuscripts submitted to PLOS ONE are evaluated as quickly as possible, but please accept our apologies in advance if you experience any delays.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us via the PLOS ONE inbox ( and, between our offices in the UK and the US, we will reply as quickly as possible. However, in the meantime, you may wish to visit some of the following pages, which may help to answer your question:

Clinical Case Reports is Recruiting

CCR coverThis new journal seeks Associate Editors to:
• Provide and organise rapid peer review of case report submissions in different areas of clinical specialties
• Provide strategic advice and ambassadorial support
• Help the Editor-in-Chief make final decisions on papers 

Clinical Case Reports, a new open access journal, will launch Spring 2013 publishing case reports from the full spectrum of healthcare practitioners including doctors, nurses, dentists, and vets.  The journal launches with the vision to improve global health and increase clinical understanding. Unlike many other case report journals, our case reports do not have to be novel, unusual, or challenging—nor do they have to be surprising. They simply have to convey an important teaching point about a common or important clinical scenario. Scenarios which illustrate the appropriate use of a clinical guideline or systematic review are particularly important to us.

Visit or email for more information on how to become an Associate Editor for Clinical Case Reports.

Deakin University Australia – Open Access Event video now available

Hello All

We had a very successful Open Access event on 25 October 2012 at our Deakin University Burwood campus in Melbourne, that we are pleased to share via video.  Not only did we have good attendance on campus with over 90 people but we live streamed the event capturing another 127.  A tweet wall provided some interesting commentary throughout as well.

Here is the link to the repository, Deakin Research Online where you can access the videos individually of the speakers and also the panel discussion.

Mapumental: How long is my public transport to work? a fun Open house-hunting site from MySociety.

My Society is a wonderful force for web-based democracy (a project of UK Citizens Online Democracy (UKCOD)).They change the world by building software for democracy. They’ve now released a version of their Mapumental software that covers the whole of the UK! Property ( ). You simply type in your postcode and slide the time that you are prepared to travel by public transport. Here’s chemistry in Cambridge (CB2 1EW) for 25 minutes to arrive by 0900. Stunning. And of course it all relies on Open Data (imagine if you had to ask the bus company for permissions).

And here’s another of their great projects. FixMyStreet works for the UK but the software can be used anywere.

FixMyStreet – anywhere in the world

FixMyStreet covers all of the UK. But we can’t build street-reporting sites for the whole world, so friends abroad may like to know that we’ve made it easier than ever before to set up your own version.

If you’ve ever thought about building a site like FixMyStreet outside the UK, now is a great time. DIY mySociety is our ongoing project to make it easier for other people to build websites using our code – that’s the first place to check in for help and support.

Creative Commons has played a major part in Openness; now it has a Science Advisory Board


At #okfest Puneet Kishoor invited me to join the newly formed Science Advisory Board of Creative Commons which has now been announced

Creative Commons’ Science Advisory Board (SAB) guides its science program and provides overall strategic vision and focus. The SAB brings legal, institutional, and domain-specific knowledge in the use and sharing of scientific tools and data. Our SAB is made up eminent scholars and practitioners from different disciplines and four continents who have volunteered to provide us both the domain expertise as well as regional perspective to help create a truly globally responsive program.

I am both honoured and eager to get started.

First I must honour Creative Commons as one of the cornerstones of Openness in this century. Quite simply without Creative Commons and its licences Open Access, and many aspects of Open Scholarship would be impossible, certainly in science. Because CC is one of the simple, clear guiding principles without which we would founder for direction. “Simple” does not mean trivial. CC has required a huge amount of work. But it has distilled much of the operational complexities into crystal clear concepts – legally enforceable licences.

Licences don’t solve everything, and people who try to control community behaviour through licences alone will be disappointed. But where large amounts of money are at stake – STM output is worth hundreds of billions each year, licences are essential. And I’ve just written about the Open Goldberg Variations, licensed under CC0. Without such as licence it may not have been possible to crate the OGV as such. It is a clear human and legal statement of the dedication into the public domain. Nor would our work on the Panton Principles have been possible without the involvement of John Wilbanks and the possibility of CC0 as one of the licences to define the output.

[battery running out…]

But CC is much more than a licensing system. It’s the major exploration of how we make scholarly and cultural works available. Not all CC licences are Open, and I’m quite happy with that. It’s a way for creative artists to state what can and what cannot be done with their works.

But restrictive CC licences (NC, ND) are not appropriate for published science. Once science is published (whether publicly funded or not) it now only makes sense if everyone (including other publishers) can make unrestricted us of this. For that reason I am disturbed about publishers such as nature who are requiring Author charges (APCs) to be related to the type of CC licence – you have to pay more for CC-BY than CC-NC. IMO this is a clear violation of the spirit of licencing in science, it confuses and restricts – which I suspect is the intention. Science should only have the following CC licences: CC-BY for articles and CC0 for data. So this is an area that I shall want us to discuss on the SAB.

And it is frankly awful that so many publishers don’t even use simple formal licences but have vague terms and conditions on scattered web pages which are often woolly and contradictory. With CC the formal basis of the discourse becomes clear, in a way that terms such as “Open Access” no longer (unfortunately) seem to be.



#openscholarship Bach + Kimiko Ishizaka and George Veletsianos + Royce Kimmons; Culture wants to be Open


One of the great by-products of invitations (e.g. to Perth) is that I am catalysed to write overview blog posts because I don’t normally do conventional slides and because I don’t know what I am going to say in detail (though I agonize sufficiently beforehand). For example in this case I had just come up on the bus where I met two very nice students from ECU who showed me where to get off the bus. One was a performing musician (ECU has the Western Australian Academy for the Performing Arts, WAAPA, So I asked if he had come across The Open Goldberg Variations by Kimiko Ishizaka. No. So I told him about how this was completely open (CC0) including both the performance and the score. That means they have created an app which shows the score running alongside the recording. What a wonderful aid for teaching, learning and scholarship in general.


And how disappointing to read on the page:

Open Goldberg Variations

?”Copyright abuse hurting musicians!” Does that headline get your attention? Well it’s true. Kimiko Ishizaka, Pianist is the victim of copyright abuse. Despite her best efforts to make the Open Goldberg Variations free – for every person and every use possible – GEMA (Germany’s artist collection society) is STILL claiming that the work falls under their jurisdiction and blocks YouTube videos from playing in Germany when they use Kimiko’s music. Since the whole point of making the music free was to gain exposure to a larger audience, having the videos blocked hurts Kimiko Ishizaka as an artist, and undermines her efforts to share Bach. Outrageous.


This, as much as anything indicates that we are in the middle of a titanic battle for our scholarship and creativity. What conceivable moral or ethical right can anyone have to block Bach’s work 260 years after his death. Is his ghost demanding rights? Even Mickey Mouse is not 260 years old (although if we don’t fight we still won’t have access to him in 200 years’ time).


So I started my talk by playing the Aria from OGV.


Because I blogged I got this great mail from George Veletsianos: Cameron Neylon emphasises networks and scale and this is an ideal example of another link in the network – we use each others ideas to reinforce and refine our own. And networks scale with N-squared (though I think it’s even greater), so this isn’t one link, it’s increasing the power by N+M where these are the sizes of our local networks – we are linking our environments and because they may be partially independent we gain a great deal.


George Veletsianos says:

November 14, 2012 at 3:33 pm  (Edit)

I really appreciated reading your insights as I come from a different disciplinary background. I came across your blog because I try to keep up-to-date on the concept of open scholarship, and I was alerted through Google Alerts about it. This idea, of researchers connecting with researchers through the opportunities afforded to us by networked technologies, I think is one of the central characteristics of the notion of open scholarship and openness. A colleague and I have written about this recently and I think that you might enjoy our paper:

Now that I also found your work, I look forward to following along!

George and Royce Kimmons have written a very good, comprehensive, well referenced paper on Open Scholarship. They come from a different angle, mainly teaching and learning, but they share the same ethical and political viewpoint. Read the paper, but they summarised their position in four principles (PMR highlighting and numbering), governed by a single guiding philosophy of Openness as an ethical pursuit for democratization, fundamental human rights, equality, and justice. This is essentially identical to the views of those I meet in the Open community (I have blogged that ). So George and Royce:

Given these examples of open scholarship, we should be able to recognize some common themes and assumptions about openness, sharing, and Internet technologies that unite such practices. First, open scholarship has a strong ideological basis rooted in an ethical pursuit for democratization, fundamental human rights, equality, and justice. As the Budapest Open Access Initiative (2002) explains, the aim of openness is “building a future in which research and education in every part of the world are … more free to flourish,” thereby reflecting ideals of democracy, free speech, and equality. Caswell, Henson, Jensen, and Wiley (2008) further explain this ideological basis with a statement of belief:

  1. We believe that all human beings are endowed with a capacity to learn, improve, and progress. Educational opportunity is the mechanism by which we fulfill that capacity. Therefore, free and open access to educational opportunity is a basic human right, … [and] we have a greater ethical obligation than ever before to increase the reach of opportunity. (p. 26)

Directing these desires for ensuring basic human rights, transparency, and accountability is a sense of justice or fairness in scholarly endeavors. Based on this ideological foundation, openness and sharing in scholarship are seen as fundamentally ethical behaviors that stand as moral requirements for any who value ideals of democracy, equality, human rights, and justice.

  1. Secondly open scholarship emphasizes the importance of digital participation for enhanced scholarly outcomes. Arguments for openness tend to focus on addressing the short-comings and limitations of current institutionalized practices through faculty participation in online spaces. For instance, Greenhow, Robelia, and Hughes (2009, p. 253) argue that Web 2.0 “tools might positively affect—even transform—research, teaching, and service responsibilities—only if scholars choose to build serious academic lives online, presenting semipublic selves and becoming more invested in and connected to the work of their peers and students.” Throughout these arguments for openness, the undesirable alternative is depicted as being “closed” or unresponsive to calls for equity, sharing, and transparency.
  2. Thirdly open scholarship is treated as an emergent scholarly phenomenon that is co-evolutionary with technological advancements in the larger culture. Though ideals espoused in the first assumption are not new developments, their reintroduction into and re-emphasis in discussions of scholarship come in conjunction with the development and diffusion of a variety of social technologies. As Wiley and Green (2012) point out, open practices “allow the full technical power of the Internet to be brought to bear on education” (p. 82), and though causal relationships between technology developments and social trends are multidimensional, historical precedents suggest that social trends evolve in conjunction with technology development in a negotiated and co-evolutionary manner (cf. Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2012; Binkley, 1935). Thus, when discussing openness in scholarship, technology must be seen as both being an actor (i.e., influencing changes in scholarly culture and thereby influencing cultural behaviors) and being acted upon (i.e., being influenced by scholarly and other cultures and thereby reflecting cultural behaviors).
  3. Finally, open scholarship is seen as a practical and effective means for achieving scholarly aims that are socially valuable. Such aims might range from ideological values (as mentioned above) to a variety of others including reduced cost of delivery, improved efficiency, greater accuracy, and so forth. For instance, one argument in favor of OA journals is that “the cost savings alone are likely to be sufficient to pay for open access journal publishing or self-archiving, independent of any possible increase in returns to R&D that might arise from enhanced access” (Houghton et al., 2009, p. XIX). Similar arguments have been made about improved research efficiency in sharing data sets (Trinidad et al., 2010), increasing the reach of universities via MOOCs (Carson & Schmidt, 2012), and using SNS for research purposes (Greenhow, 2009). Considering an educational perspective, such efficiency may also have pedagogical value because as Wiley and Green (2012) argue, “Education is a matter of sharing, and … [open practices] enable extremely efficient and affordable sharing” (p. 82). In their view, “those educators who share the most thoroughly of themselves with the greatest proportion of their students” are seen as successful (p. 82). From this perspective, openness is seen as an effective vehicle for achieving various scholarly goals like affordability, efficiency, accuracy, accessibility, sustainability, dissemination, and effective pedagogy.

PLOS meets the American Society of Human Genetics

Last week the staff at PLOS attended the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics, held just a mile from our San Francisco office.  If you were able to stop by the exhibition hall, you would have found representatives from

Publications Manager Liz Flavall speaks with one of the Editors on PLOS Genetics about one of our lesser known but very exciting publications, PLOS Currents Evidence on Genomic Tests

various journals at the PLOS booth. It was a great opportunity to connect with readers, authors, editors, reviewers, and a few people who hadn’t heard of us, believe it or not!

We invited authors to look up their published articles in exchange for a PLOS t-shirt – we gave away a lot of t-shirts.  This afforded us the opportunity to show off our new article level metrics (or rather we had the authors show off their own metrics to us).  Many were thrilled to find out just how easy it is to find all articles that had cited their work.  We also had some delightful reactions from those who discovered they had been referenced in Wikipedia.

We also took the opportunity to share and discuss our new Open Access guide: How Open Is It?  Some of the most rewarding conversations were with readers who discovered that all of our articles could be read anywhere, anytime, and that the contents could be freely re-used for research and education.

We had some fantastic discussions with many who are well acquainted with PLOS and its mission.  Members of the PLOS Genetics Editorial board took advantage of our booth as a meeting point to talk to each other and to authors.  We also met some very devoted authors and reviewers, as well as PLOS ONE Editors.  We talked about the future of scientific publishing and open access, and we heard feedback from users on their experiences with PLOS.  If any of you are reading this now, rest assured your feedback has been passed on to the relevant parties.

In December you will be able to find us at the Annual meetings for the American Geophysical Union, and the American Society for Cell Biology.  Hope to see you there!