UKRI’s new open access policy will hinder open science | Times Higher Education (THE)

“The final published version – known as version of record, or VOR – is not some artificial construct of publishers. We know from our recent research with 1,400 researchers, as well as an analysis of article usage, that it is overwhelmingly the VOR that researchers want to read and cite – and it is also the VOR of their own research that, as authors, they want others to read and cite. They find the VOR easier to read, more reliable, and more authoritative and credible because of the reassurance provided by peer review and the stamp of credibility provided by proof of publication in a recognised journal.

Researchers also highlighted the value added to the VOR through the publication process, compared with earlier article versions (the submitted manuscript or the accepted manuscript), including copy-editing and typesetting. Critically, VORs include figures and links to relevant open data, open code and open protocols. This facilitates open science for the whole research system – which is the main goal of making research articles OA in the first place.

Green OA typically revolves around posting the accepted manuscript, but the cost of creating these is, in essence, borne by library subscriptions given that they are created as part of the process of being published in paywalled journals. This is a problem in itself: OA should be about removing paywalls, not becoming dependent on them. Attempts to make accepted manuscripts more widely available do not reflect researchers’ needs and could set back the transition to full (gold) OA and the realisation of the benefits of open science.

Second, as good as transformative agreements are, they have their limits. The industry-standard contract stipulates that a paper’s eligibility for gold OA depends on whether the corresponding author’s institution is part of the agreement. But the UKRI OA policy applies to all co-authors it funds in whole or in part. This is significant. We estimate that between 30 and 40 per cent of papers that have at least one UK author do not have a UK corresponding author and therefore wouldn’t be covered by existing transformative agreements. Those co-authors risk of being left without a viable funded OA publishing route….”

 

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