The Fruits of Finch/RCUK Profligacy (and Publishing Lobby Success)

Here they are:

Cornée, Nathalie and Madjarevic, Natalia (2014) The London School of Economics and Political Science 2013/2014 RCUK open access compliance report. The London School of Economics and Political Science, Library, London, UK.

Abstract: In September 2014, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) reported to Research Councils UK on the School?s compliance with the recently introduced RCUK Policy on Open Access (OA). This reports provides detail around the article processing charges (APC) data and RCUK Call for Evidence report. Background In April 2013, the revised RCUK Policy on Open Access came into effect. The policy requires journal articles or conference proceedings arising from research funded wholly or partially by a RCUK grant should be made freely available online (or ?Open Access?). There are two main routes to make papers open access: a) the Green route, which is the LSE preferred route, when the full text of papers are deposited into an institutional repository such as LSE Research Online. To select this route, embargo periods must be no longer than the 12 months permitted by RCUK (no charge applies); b) the Gold route, which provides immediate, unrestricted access to the final version of the paper via the publisher’s website, often using a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence – it may involve payment of an APC to the publisher. In 2013, we received the RCUK OA block grant for 2013/14 of £62,862. We set up the LSE Institutional Publication Fund using this grant and this was managed by the Library, allowing eligible RCUK-funded researchers to apply for APC funds. Additionally, the School was awarded a pump-prime funding allocation from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for open access, which was also added to the fund. Of the 141 papers we identified as RCUK-funded for Year 1, 50 papers are open access via the Green route and 73 via the Gold, resulting in an 87% compliance rate.

Seventy-three (73) OA articles, at about £1,000 a shot via Gold — vs. fifty (50) at no cost via Green!

That RCUK £62,862 could have funded 4 doctoral research students or 2 postdoctoral researchers. Instead, it is paying publishers even more than they are already being paid for subscriptions (and for hybrid Gold publishers it’s even double-paying them).

For 73 articles!

And 73 articles that could have been provided for free via Green — if instead of dangling scarce money in front of authors RCUK had simply insisted on immediate deposit, irrespective of embargo length.

One can only hope that the spot-on and timely new HEFCE policy of requiring immediate deposit, now, in order to be eligible for REF2020, will stanch this gratuitous, obdurate Finch/RCUK profligacy.

And that the EU’s similar policy will help reinforce it.

Meanwhile there’s nothing stopping institutions from being more sensible, by requiring immediate deposit and using the RCUK windfall to better purpose (till it is sensibly redirected to research).