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05/07/2013

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Couple of comments - is it the principle of a payment route to OA you dislike, or the principle of OA in general?

HEFCE are still in consultation on the post-2014 REF requirements.

Is it really the case that research managers are pushing publication in journals with high impact factors & not academic research directors/senior research academics who have led on this?

(I'm a librarian so coming at it from the cost of resources to support research point of view).

Hi Rachel,

Many thanks for your comments!

I believe in the principle that research in the UK ought to be available to the general public at no cost. My problem is the way in which the UK government has decided to implement open access--there are many things that I find horrifying from the ability for publishers to double-dip with revenue streams to the negative impacts the regime will have on vulnerable researchers.

Our institutional lingos may be different so I apologise if 'research manager' isn't the best term. I work in an institutional context where the pressure to publish in high ISI-ranked journals comes from the university executive downwards--including one member who wrote a Times Higher article on why journal ranking systems are a good proxy for quality. It influences resource allocation decisions, promotions, as well as REF eligibility consideration--despite the fact that REF assessors will not be using metrics in their evaluations. It is an ever present presence at my institution--maybe other places are more enlightened?

The precursor for an effective open access system is eliminating the continuation of the research excellence framework. This would allow colleagues to pursue open access options to their fullest potential and place pressure on publishers to provide a better product and better services at a better price. As the elimination of these monitoring exercises is not likely going to happen, my preference then would be for an open access system where the accepted--though not copy-set--version could be posted within 12 months of having a DOI number. The general public would be able to get access in good time. It would reduce the costs associated with archiving--as the current requirements seem set to demand posting different versions at different time-- and professional researchers would continue to have access to the official copy-set copy that they prefer.

There are important issues raised here, and I certainly do appreciate the engagement and debate. Thanks for linking to my blog, too, where there's lots more about open access related issues, cf. http://curt-rice.com/category/open-access/.

I want to make sure that we're understanding each others' positions. My piece opens with a definition of academic freedom that I think is compatible with yours. In fact, the Norwegian document I link to actually includes the clause that you propose here, namely the freedom to publish where you want. So, the first part of my piece is a consideration of the "stick" approach to OA, and I conclude that it is indeed a violation of academic freedom for governments to require of their researchers to publish in journals that are either gold OA or even that allow archiving. If I believe my paper belongs in the Journal of Invisible Research and I always wanted to publish there, academic freedom gives me that right. So, the first part of my piece argues against forced OA policies.

But then I ask if there aren't any carrots -- any reasons which might lead researchers to conclude that publishing in OA fora is good for them. And I list the four I came up with. And I really believe them.

So, I think it's totally unacceptable that you be forced to publish in OA journals. But I think there are pretty good reasons that you should -- reasons that will extend the impact of your work, which is the whole reason we publish, after all. Right?

Impact factor, by the way, is a total scam, and we should all be resisting it. I covered this recently in the Guardian, and on my blog:
http://curt-rice.com/2013/02/06/why-you-cant-trust-research-3-problems-with-the-quality-of-science/

Thanks again for the debate ... and the charity :)

Hi Curt,

Many thanks for your thoughtful response and for your own charity towards my limited contribution to this discussion.

These are indeed good carrots if one is working within a higher education system that supports the risk taking that early adoption and innovative distribution entail. The end of research assessment would be a big help for robust open access in the UK. So would the return of tenure.

And yes, I fully agree with your reservations about impact factors. How we have gotten to the point where a private company with no transparency shapes public research cultures is perplexing.

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