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).