[Coped from http://mailman.ecs.soton.ac.uk/mailman/listinfo/goal . PMR: I find this very clearly argued and very compelling]
The Finch Report says a good deal more about Green, and repositories, than your representation suggests but, of course, anyone can judge for themselves by looking at the report itself, and particularly Chapters 8 and 9. But yes, I do disagree with your view that mandated “green deposit” will achieve a situation in which all publication costs are met upfront, allowing all research results to be freely available on the principle that knowledge should be a “nonrivalrous good”. The problem with your position is that it preserves, and will prolong, a status quo in which repositories contain combinations of metadata, a limited number of full-text deposits, non-searchable PDFs and (some) published-version copies which have been migrated from publishers’ web sites. This approach also encourages for-profit partnerships between publishers and some academic societies who want to preserve high margins in order to fund other activities (of course, not all learned societies take this view – witness the excellent position being taken by the Royal Society). For example, in her presentation to the symposium organized by the Academy of Social Sciences in December, Felice Levine was quite clear that the American Educational Research Association would lobby against a system of up-front APCs because it would damage the ability of the AERA to make sufficient margins to fund their business activities. While I have nothing against the AERA and similar organizations running as businesses, their use of licencing is, in effect, a hypothecated tax on the distribution of knowledge. This seems to me inconsistent with the principle of knowledge as a nonrivalrous good.
My argument (which is not the same as the Finch Group’s position, and would probably not be shared by some on the Finch Group) is that we need to steer towards conditions in which the copy-of-record is freely and openly available because full APCs have been met upfront. This does not necessarily mean that APCs need be high and, across the full range of Open Access journals, they are already negligible. I believe that competition between for-profit publishers for “gold” will drive down APCs as long as cartels are avoided (but of course this has to be an assumption). “Double dipping” through hybrid approaches remains a risk but – as the reaction against Elsevier’s profit margins showed – academics can walk away from journals that maintain unacceptable combinations of licencing and gold options; without academic authors, publishers are emperors without clothes. In my view, the true digital revolution is one of volume and interoperability; automated data and text mining of freely searchable copy-of-record text will be essential to the “semantic intelligence” that will be the research paradigm of the near future. Institutional repositories will play a key role as digital archives. I set this argument out in my presentation to the Westminster Forum (www.salford.ac.uk/vc).
What I think is becoming clear, post-Finch and particularly in the debate about RCUK policies (which are not the same as the Finch recommendations) is that one approach does not suit all genres of research. There needs to be more work on models for the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, including considerations of variants to CC-BY licences (which, I’ve realized, cannot be met by using CC-BY-NC), and approaches to monograph publications. The current debates are valuable in this respect.
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