Four More Questions For Mark Thorley About RCUK Open Access Policy

Mark Thorley has posted “RCUK Open Access Policy ? When to go Green and When to go Gold” on the RCUK site.

Here are four further questions about the policy:

1. Policy Wording. As repeatedly pointed out and acknowledged at the Imperial College Forum, the wording of the present RCUK policy is confusing and leads to the widespread misunderstanding that fundees may not choose (free) Green (6-12) unless the journal does not offer (paid) Gold (CC-BY). If the intended meaning is that funded may freely choose Green or Gold, isn’t the right place to say that — and to prevent this confusion and misunderstanding — in the wording of the policy itself? rather than just in accompanying guidance to the interpretation of the wording of the policy?

2. Perverse Effects. Is RCUK not concerned that only allowing fundees to publish in journals that offer either (paid) CC-BY Gold or (free) 6-12 Green (or both) will simply induce subscription journals (60% of which currently allow immediate, unembargoed Green) to now offer hybrid (paid) CC-BY Gold while increasing their Green option to 13+ to make sure that UK authors must pay for Gold?

3. Benefits of 6% CC-BY. The UK produces 6% of worldwide research output. What benefit is it to UK industry, or to UK wealth creation, or to UK research, for the UK to pay (hybrid) subscription publishers worldwide 6% extra, over and above what they are already being paid for subscriptions, in order to make (only) the UK’s own 6% of worldwide research output CC-BY Gold? Is it worth the extra UK research money, diverted from research? or the loss (to both the UK and the rest of the world) of Green OA from the rest of the world (94%), because RCUK gives subscription publishers worldwide the irresistible incentive to offer a hybrid Gold option and increase their Green embargo lengths (while the rest of the world, unlike the UK, cannot afford — or does not wish — to subsidize hybrid publishers over and above what they are already paying them in subscriptions)?

4. Green Compliance Mechanisms. There seem to be plans in the making for verifying compliance with RCUK’s paid Gold option. What are RCUK’s plans for verifying compliance with the Green OA option? A requirement to deposit is not even mentioned in the current RCUK Policy’s wording: just a requirement to choose an RCUK-compliant journal.