Not All That Glitters

Paul Jump’s THE report on the Westminster Higher Education Forum on Implementing Open Access Policy is incomplete:

1. Professor Neilson was not arguing against Open Access (OA) mandates; he was arguing against constraints on authors’ choice of journal.

2. The ones that need to comply with funder OA mandates are fundees, not journals.

3. Hence the way for fundees to comply with funder OA mandates is to publish in their journal of choice and to provide OA to the publication.

4. The two ways to provide OA are for the publisher to do it (Gold OA) or for the author to do it (Green OA).

5. Most publishers (of UK authors’ journals of choice) provide Gold OA only if paid to do so.

6. Professor Neilson argued against this Gold OA payment not only as a constraint on author choice, but also as a constraint on the UK research budget: hence his call for a cost/benefit analysis — not of OA or OA mandates, but of Gold OA and Gold OA mandates.

7. That leaves Green OA, which can be provided by authors for any journal they choose — Gold or tolled.

8. Some journals (c. 60%) embargo Green OA; the allowable embargo length is still under debate, but hovers around 12 months; RCUK have already said they will not even try to enforce embargoes for the first five years of the new mandate.

9. The BIS Committee‘s and HEFCE‘s recommendation (not mentioned in Paul Jump’s article, though BIS Committee Chair Adrian Bailey also spoke at the Westminster Forum), is to mandate immediate deposit, whether or not access to the deposit is made OA immediately.

10. Adrian Bailey, like Professor Neilson, recommends further evidence-based analysis before diverging from the original 2004 Select Committee Recommendation to mandate Green but not Gold.

11. It is through the Green course set by the 2004 Select Committee that the UK had been leading the world toward OA till 2012, when the Finch Committee abruptly recommended — without evidence — preferring Gold.

12. BIS and HEFCE have since recommended staying the course until and unless there is evidence to the contrary.

13. What is certain is that the rest of the world (US, EU, Australia) is following the Green Course set by the UK, irrespective of any evidence-free 2nd thoughts the Finch Committee may have since had about it.