“The Authors are Coming! The Open Access Revolution”
RightsLink Forum – Panel Discussion
- Audrey McCulloch, Association of Learned & Professional Publishers
- David Clark, Elsevier
- Rhodri Jackson, Oxford University Press
- Mark Thurley, Research Councils UK (RCUK)
Recorded January 22, 2014 at British Medical Association, London
KENNEALLY: At Copyright Clearance Center over the last year or so, as you probably know, we’ve been following the open access issue quite closely. It’s been a really exciting time and a great opportunity for me. Somebody here on the panel was asking me about whether I miss journalism, and I realized that doing the kind of work that we have been doing for Copyright Clearance Center with our webinars, with our white papers, with our podcasts around this very important issue has really allowed me to kind of dip my toe back into all of that, to try to do our best to provide you with the information that you need to help make decisions moving forward.
But for the discussion, I want to introduce the panel. Moving from my right, we have Audrey McCulloch. Audrey, welcome.
McCULLOCH: Thank you.
KENNEALLY: Audrey is the chief executive of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers. She became so in 2012. ALPSP is the international association for nonprofit, scholarly, and professional publishers. She has over 12 years of experience in scholarly publishing, and she herself has a Ph.D. in cardiovascular pharmacology from the University of Nottingham, so I suppose at the reception, people will be saying, I have this pain in my chest. But Audrey, welcome indeed.
Then to Audrey’s right, we have David Clark. David, welcome. David is Senior Vice President for Life Science and Social Science at Elsevier. In his current role, he has worked in both developing new open access journals and creating options for authors who wish to publish under open access in existing subscription journals.
To his right, Rhodri Jackson. Rhodri, welcome. He is with Oxford University Press. He joined the press, OUP, in 2004 and moved to their journals division in 2006, where he’s responsible for managing OUP’s law journals, as well as running Oxford Open, OUP’s own open access initiative, which covers over 200 titles across all subject areas. He has devised and runs the ALPSP course Developing Open Access in Hybrid Journals, and he’s a member of the board of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association.
Then finally, at the far end of things there, is Mark Thorley. Mark, welcome. Mark is head of science information and data management, coordinator for the U.K.’s Natural Environment Research Council, NERC. He’s responsible for activities relating to scientific data and information management, and for coordinating the activities of NERC’s network of environmental data centers. He is also chair of Research Councils U.K., RCUK, Research Outputs Network, which leads for RCUK on issues relating to scholarly communications and open access.
Audrey, I thought I would start with you, because Michael Jubb had some important things to say about the types of organizations that make up your membership. You’ve got something like 10,000 journals published by ALPSP members in 40 countries, so while Dr. Jubb focused on the U.K., and you’re U.K.-based, it is still very much a global concern.
When the mandates came into effect from RCUK and from Wellcome Trust last April, April 1, was there a sense that the world had come to an end?
McCULLOCH: I think for some organizations, yes, and that would be because particularly for the arts and humanities, many were of the view that this is an STM problem and it’s not going to affect us, and suddenly, it affects everybody. STM, we’re kind of aware what was happening. We’re getting on top of it and thinking about it, but a lot of the arts, humanities, and social sciences societies and the authors in those communities had no concept that this was coming at them. In fact, I had a member phone me up and say, stop sending me this stuff about open access, it’s nothing to do with me. And I did argue with him for quite some time that he had to pay attention to this and it was coming to him. We’ve brought him round and we’re helping him through it. He’s in therapy. No, I’m kidding.
So there’s been a very mixed response. But I went through our members and had a look at who was doing what in response, and I think there’s just about every option represented by some of our members from fully gold OA journals to traditional journal subscriptions that are being flipped to fully OA, to hybrid journals, to delayed open access options, to freemium models. The whole raft is within our membership, and there is no STM-AHSS split that I could discern. Everybody has got a mix. It’s rife through all subject areas as to who is doing different things.
So I think although there was the initial, oh, my God, the world has ended for some of us, they have responded, and they’ve responded positively and they’ve responded more to what their authorship is demanding.
KENNEALLY: We heard in the beginning discussion this morning that one of the things that’s going to be changing in publishing is this move toward author-customer service, and certainly for learned societies, they’ve always been concerned about their members’ needs and their members’ interests, but this is going to change the relationship for them as well.
McCULLOCH: Absolutely. They do of course work very closely with the authors who are also their reviewers and are also their members, so it’s balancing all those needs. One of the dichotomies that happened very early on that’s started to go away now is that authors all said, we want open access. Members and officers of societies all said, we want open access. The publishing arm said, well, here’s the finances, and they all went, oh, hang on a minute, this doesn’t quite add up. So there’s been lots of discussions about how to replace the income that’s not going to be there, not just subscription. This is one of the things about open access that people just think, well, there’s APCs or there’s subscription income and that’s all there is. But publishers’ learned societies, having come from such a variety of areas – secondary income through aggregators, secondary rights income through CCC.
KENNEALLY: Licensing and so forth.
McCULLOCH: Absolutely. Document delivery, lots of other income. And to take all of that, which is the publishing income, and reflect that in a single article processing publication charge is a real challenge. For those who have never had that income and have never used it like the learned societies do, all the things that Dr. Jubb said, the scholarships, the travel grants, reinvesting in continuing professional development – BMJ do this and many other learned societies do this, they will take complex information and they will interpret it so the public can come along and go, oh, I’ve just been diagnosed with X. I don’t need a very complex scientific paper because I’m in a state of panic and I’m not going to be able to interpret that. The societies have people employed to take that complex information and turn it around and say, this is what you need to know. These are the contacts you need to have. And that all costs money to be able to provide that service, so it’s finding a price point for the APCs that can allow them to continue that but won’t be unacceptable to the market is a real challenge.
KENNEALLY: Right. So essentially what you’re saying is you’re seeing a tremendous range of experimentation among a membership that really runs the gamut from onesie-twosie to the biggest of them all.
McCULLOCH: Absolutely. And as I say, STM aren’t doing something and AHSS aren’t doing something else. It’s reflected right across the disciplines.
KENNEALLY: And one last question about that, Audrey, is it seems to me it’s always ironic that we talk about the need for scholarly publishing generally, but publishing, broadly, to become more innovative, because for a while there – for a few centuries there – publishing was about doing the same thing over and over and over again, maybe better, but it took a while. And yet, these scholarly organizations are publishing innovative research. So I wonder now if this is really seen even by them, despite all the pressures, despite all the concerns, as an opportunity to really develop a new model for publishing.
McCULLOCH: Oh, absolutely. I think the smaller ones will obviously look to the experimentation that the larger publishers can afford to do, and perhaps get it wrong, because they have a little bit more resource behind them. And I think once models start to become established, the smaller publishers will look to the resources they have and follow that model. But in the very smaller publishers right now, it’s not an option because they’re looking at ways that they can change their systems to support author deposit, for example, and that costs money and investment. So they’re not going to do a lot more experimentation straightaway, but the medium- to larger-size publishers, absolutely. There’s lots of opportunities out there.
KENNEALLY: Rhodri Jackson, hardly a medium to small publisher, Oxford University Press. But you have been responding to this challenge there at OUP. Tell us a little bit about the responsibility you feel you have to help educate authors about open access, because Audrey raised the issue that people don’t seem to think it involves them. It really does involve all of them.
JACKSON: Yeah. I guess education is a difficult term to use because it sounds – and I think it’s something that we’re guilty of saying quite a lot, but it’s quite patronizing. And I think it’s one of the faults, actually, of the publishing industry and the open access lobby as a whole to kind of act like we are this great learned body who know about this world of open access and we’ll bring it to the masses. If an author wants open access, great, but there of course are some authors out there who are perfectly happy to publish in a normal subscription manner.
Having said that, I think there is a responsibility for a publisher to communicate quite clearly to authors if we know we’re going to get offers from bodies who have mandated open access, like the RCUK or like Wellcome or like the NIH in the U.S., to make everything as clear as possible to authors from those bodies about how they can comply with their overarching mandate, and that’s something we try and do as clearly as possible from our instructions to authors to, more importantly, the actual point at which authors come to choose a license and in some cases, pay a charge.
KENNEALLY: I mentioned in the introduction that you’re on the board at OASPA. I wonder if you could talk about what OASPA is trying to do to help publishers like those in this room understand better these issues. Are there some best practices that OASPA is trying to aspire to?
JACKSON: Yes. One of the reasons OASPA was set up in the first place – and I have to say, OUP wasn’t a founding member. We joined a year in and we joined the board three or four years in. But one of the reasons OASPA was set up, largely by the major open access publishers – BMC, Hindawi, and PLoS – was to establish best practice in open access publishing to state what sort of licenses should be used in an ideal world, to talk about things like the value of peer review, the value of financial transactions being kept separate from the peer review process. It’s fairly obvious stuff for most people in the room, but I guess maybe five, six, seven years ago, maybe it wasn’t, and it’s good to have that in place.
KENNEALLY: It’s not obvious only because – and we mentioned this briefly this morning – it all depends on what you mean by open access, right? It is a very broad term covering a multitude of sins.
JACKSON: Yeah, correct.
KENNEALLY: You would agree with that.
JACKSON: I agree with that.
KENNEALLY: Everybody in the room probably agrees with that, but I guess for OASPA, that’s a challenge because the public perception is otherwise.
JACKSON: Yes, and I think at OASPA, there are a couple of interesting challenges at the moment. There are two, really. One revolves around negative perception of open access that’s come out of the Bohannon Science sting paper, which many people in the room are pretty aware of, but for those who are not, it’s a researcher working for the journal/magazine Science who produced a fake paper which he submitted to – I forget the numbers, but something like 150 journals, and it was accepted by a rather larger proportion that one might hope for in an ideal world. These were all open access journals it was submitted to and so there was a lot of negative reaction along the lines that therefore open access journals aren’t practicing correct peer review and they were accepting papers purely because they know they will get financial reimbursement for accepting papers.
For an organization like OASPA, which has been set up to show that open access publishing is actually credible, it’s not vanity publishing, and that there are as rigorous processes in place at open access publishers as at subscription publishers, that’s not a particularly good thing. OASPA dealt with that situation quite strongly. We terminated the membership of two publishers. We put another publisher on review for six months, I think. And I think there’s still continuing conversation. That article only came out two or three months ago, and there’s still continuing conversation about how we can make sure all our processes are as rigorous as possible for the incoming and existing members. And I guess like any organization, usually the controls over incoming members are very good. Existing members, it’s a bit harder to continue that review process.
KENNEALLY: Mark Thorley, I want to turn to you and put it to you this way. What have you done? Did you anticipate where we would be? I was joking, of course. I don’t mean you, but RCUK. Did it anticipate the change, the consternation, and did it also anticipate that we would be a year on from the mandates still in what Michael Jubb called a mixed economy?
THORNLEY: So what have we done? I’m trying to think. There was a modest proposal from someone to – it was about 18 children or something.
KENNEALLY: That was Swift. There was a hunger problem and he said, well, let’s start eating poor people.
THORNLEY: It was just a modest proposal, yes. Sometimes, we’re likened to that, I think, and we were told the world is going to come to an end. Twelve months on just about, as far as I can tell, the earth is still revolving on its axis. The world is still going around the sun. The moon is still orbiting the earth. The system as we know it doesn’t appear to have fallen over and broken, but we’re a year down the road. We’ve always said there’s going to be a transition, and I think in retrospect, yeah, there are things we hadn’t anticipated in that change which have caused us more issues, and there are other things which we thought would be a real issue that we haven’t lost any sleep over. I think anyone who moves into a major change project like this, there will be things we just can’t anticipate and things which go a different way.
In retrospect, I think we’re reasonably satisfied with the progress we’re making. It is still only the first year. There’s another four years to go in our planned five-year transition period when we think we’ll have moved to a more stable end point. We’ll be having the first review of our policy in the last quarter of this year, in 2014, so we’re going to invite anyone who feels they’ve got evidence they’d like to submit to review. We’ll be issuing a call for evidence later in the year. We’re still confirming the membership of the review panel and the terms of reference. We’re not at liberty to actually publicize that at the moment, but there will be a formal consultation period, and we’ll be pleased to receive evidence where people think actually what you’ve done has caused damage, or conversely, what you’ve done is actually working very well and we think actually, if you just make this change, it will be even better.
KENNEALLY: Of course, it’s all about perspective, right, Mark? For some people, things haven’t happened fast enough. For others, it’s happening too quickly for them, and for others, they’re sort of standing on the sidelines waiting to see where it all leads. But I wonder whether you could just remind us about the RCUK’s position as far as open access, because we have acknowledged that there’s a fairly broad definition for that. It’s still the RCUK’s position that the gold road is the preferred one, is that right?
THORNLEY: Actually, we have a definition of open access, which is very similar to the BOAJ definition. It’s all around – I’m trying to remember the exact words here. I should know this off by heart. It should be tattooed on my brain. Basically, it’s unrestricted access to read and to download the article and to reuse the article from the journal website. Ideally, for us, it’s best delivered by gold, because we think gold open access, basically to coin a phrase from advert, it does what it says on the can. So if you want to read a paper in the Journal of Ecology, the best way to read that paper is from the Journal of Ecology website.
There’s a key reason why we do that and why, to some extent, we are seen to be in dispute with some of the high priests of the green movement is in fact, from my perspective, a lot of the people who’ve developed the green route to repositories, to open access, their focus has been on getting research access to papers. It’s very much yes, a researcher can download a copy of the paper. They’re sufficiently educated enough to understand the difference between the preprint and the post-print. They’ll understand the issues around peer review, and if it’s not there, they’ll just email the researcher, they can press this magic button, request a copy button, and other things will happen.
We as research funders have to speak to a much broader constituency of users. The research has been paid for by the taxpayer’s dollar, so to speak, and we are responsible to make sure we can get that research out to the maximum constituency so all taxpayers, to a large extent, can be potential users of our research, be they researchers, be they innovators, be they people working in their bedroom doing innovative mashup work in their bedroom, be it small-, medium-size enterprises, be it large pharmaceuticals. They’re all taxpayers. They all are potential users of that research.
However, not all of them are, I guess in our minds, clear about the various nuances of the scholarly communication process. What we want to do is make sure they have access to the quality, peer-reviewed version of papers. I think in a world where anyone can publish anything on the Internet, it’s beholden to those as research funders to ensure that we make available the peer-reviewed versions of the papers so those who need to access it know they’re accessing the definitive version. And the best way to us of doing that, obviously, is from a journal website, because if you want to read the paper in Nature, where better to go than the Nature website?
KENNEALLY: So given the preference for gold, tell us a little bit more. Update us on the RCUK’s position as far as the development of sustainable publishing models, which is really the controversial element in all of this.
THORNLEY: I think to some extent, maybe I feel at times we’ve been blamed for all the ills the Internet has brought upon the world.
KENNEALLY: Not just you.
THORNLEY: In the sense that from my perspective, open access would have happened eventually, regardless of the moves that funders have made, because the model the Internet has brought about how people want to access and use information, it’s been a disruptive change, which we are responding to as funders, which your publishers are responding to, and we will need to continue to respond to in the coming years. So when we hear from learned societies that our policy is threatening their very existence, yes, we recognize the value of learned societies, but we have to say to them, actually, you’ve got to make sure your finances are sustainable anyway. To put all your financial eggs in one basket called your journal income actually in retrospect probably wasn’t such a good idea, given the fact that if someone else comes along with a new journal – it could have been a new subscription journal might have suddenly stolen your marketshare – you were going to come unstuck anyway. If someone comes along with a new open access journal that people want to use in preference, you were going to come unstuck as a learned society.
So, I think what this has done is highlighted some of the sustainability issues which were there anyway, which probably the conservatism in the system, the inertia in the system, had protected people from. Now we’re starting to see this disruptive change coming through. The world’s biggest journal is PLoS ONE, a pure gold open access journal. A few years ago, no one would have predicted that. Is it taking research from other publishers? Well, I think the jury’s out on that, taking papers from other publishers. But now other publishers are coming in and saying, we want a share of that action. Let us also start producing these new mega journals with the different ways of doing the peer review, etc.
So I think in terms of coming back to what you asked, sustainability, yeah, it’s in the interest of the scholarly communication process they remain sustainable, but they’ve got to work out how they remain sustainable in a landscape which itself is changing. And as our requirements change to reflect what we need to achieve, they’ve got to work to ensure they can sustain them in that new landscape.
KENNEALLY: That’s what I was just about to anticipate. You said it yourself. It’s really not the RCUK’s responsibility that these publishers maintain themselves. You’ve got your own charge regarding research funding and this responsibility to the public and so forth.
THORNLEY: Yes. What we want is people to deliver publishing solutions which will meet the requirements, and we have. Our requirements are changing over time in the same way as other funders’ requirements will change in other areas. So me and Michael Jubb this morning been in a meeting all about open data and that, again, is an issue probably driven to some extent by the disruptive change on the Internet, and the things we can do and exploit open data. But that’s a new requirement to some extent falling on the publishing industry as well, so we all have to adapt to the changing landscape.
KENNEALLY: In fact, as we say journalism, this is the definition of a developing story. This isn’t going to end today. This is going to continue for some time to come. And as you say, you have a five-year plan for the transition period.
I want to turn it to David Clark. When we chatted prior to the panel, David, we were talking just about this problem that Mark identified, which is the ills of the Internet, as far as it goes, for publishing. But yet, you told me you don’t think there are any publishers who would go back to a pre-Internet world.
CLARK: No, I don’t think there are, and I think the reasons are pretty solid. I began my career in that period in the early ’90s where journals were counting in some cases subscriptions in the low hundreds and access was very restricted, just from a practical issue. Libraries closed at night. And to go back to that world seems very, very retrograde, but also, the opportunities that the Internet has afforded us at many levels, not least of which would be that it’s become easier and easier for journals to become truly international.
We still, when I started my career, had editorial boards composed around the postal systems of the world, which nowadays looks ridiculous. You had a nation editor because it was quicker to post things to a nation editor. This was a foolish place to be, but it was the world we lived in. And in terms of access, whether under subscription or under open access, there are models that give much wider dissemination. Michael referred to the initiative in relation to U.K. libraries, and that model is also present in other countries, too. So the availability of material is much greater, and a publisher instinctively is in the business of trying to get material out there. It is about trying to share and disseminate, and the Internet’s a fantastic tool for doing that.
No, I don’t think any decent publisher would to go – there’s a qualification there – I don’t think any decent publisher would want to go back to that world. But it is dramatic and it is changing, and it’s absolutely true that regardless of what happens in – and the U.K.’s very important, as a British citizen and taxpayer, it’s very important to me, but it is 6% of the world, and you will see changes happening in many countries, and the U.K. is a long way from being the only or sole actor in this change.
KENNEALLY: And again, Mark alluded to it. One of the things that’s happened, this is the classic example of a disruption in a business model, disruptive technology, and it has, frankly, exposed all kinds of issues for publishing and for scholarship and so forth and so on. Can you talk about some of the things? For example, to go back to a point we discussed this morning, the changing author relationship. How is Elsevier addressing that particular disruption? Because again, it is no longer a question of submission, review, acceptance, publication. There’s a great deal more that is involved.
CLARK: There is, and there is a lot more interaction. I have this very strange responsibility. I’m responsible for social sciences and life sciences, so I see both ends. We can talk about the different cultures of those fields, but very crudely, I have one end of the field which is relatively well-funded and one end of the field which is not funded to any significant degree, and that’s a big driver behind a lot of the concerns.
Publishers have to look to what authors want. They have to look at what funders want. Ideally, you have responsible funders like RCUK who are trying to achieve a sensible arrangement and a clear process, and you have authors who often have a knee-jerk reaction, and there’s an educational need there, authors who need to be helped through some of the processes, which are quite complicated. We have to bear in mind many of the authors we now deal with in open access are not used to having to deal with, say, internal recharging aspects, internal cost allocation. They often don’t have to make decisions about things like licenses. So one of the big challenges, we refer to education, again a word I’m not very comfortable with, but we see many authors just simply not understanding some very basic things. But they will, and I think what’ll happen is you’ll see the choices become simpler. At the moment, what we see is where people have a choice, they will choose between a wide range of licenses. I’m sure over time, they will form views, they will become educated, they will look to the benefits, there will be discussion around the risks of those things.
So there’s an infrastructure problem, there’s a communication problem, but they’re all problems which, I would agree, were going to happen anyway, and people will have to learn about them and understand them and then make decisions. I suspect they won’t actually learn anything. I think what will happen is they will go from one standard behavior and they will switch to another standard behavior, but that’s I think just because that is how the world is.
KENNEALLY: You mentioned some of the various clients you have relationships with, authors and the funders as well, but the institutions, those who have been the subscribers in the past, that’s also undergoing a tremendous disruption, the relationship there.
CLARK: It is, but I think those changes have been changing so much over the last 12 to 15 years. To put it into context, back in the mid-’90s, Elsevier had a tiny sales force. There’s a rumor in the company that it was one person, but that isn’t quite true. I think there were two. But we didn’t deal with wide consortia agreements. We didn’t deal with different forms of licensing agreements. We didn’t look at trying to increase dissemination. All of that’s changed, and often, we find ourselves negotiating at a national level, again, something which was not imaginable, and negotiating terms on a national level, again, very, very different. So that has already gone under a major change.
I think one thing which is also very interesting is that libraries and universities want to talk to us about a wider range of aspects. One of the things which they want to talk to us about in lots of detail was both gold OA, but also green OA. One thing Elsevier has done as well as changing some of our terms to align to what RCUK is doing on the gold side is also aligning in the green side to make sure that we can meet the expectations as far as possible. That, again, is something which in talking to libraries, we have to do as well, so that’s changed quite significantly. But it will continue to change. That’s perhaps the most significant change. Once, it was the university library which was discussing these things. Increasingly, it’s a much more senior-level of the university, and they have a stronger set of interests and a bigger agenda.
KENNEALLY: Indeed. Rhodri Jackson, at OUP you have published a number of journals. As you say, you come from the law side of things, predominantly, and you have an important law list. You’re also very big in books as well, to put it mildly. Are you anticipating open access to begin to move into other areas of publishing beyond the journals?
JACKSON: Yes. Michael Jubb and I were just talking about this just in the break before this session. Open access monographs is an interesting topic. It was one of the recommendations in the Finch Report, developed more – Michael can phrase it better, but something about developing more around open access monographs and putting more investigation into the viability of monographs. OUP publishes in any given year somewhere between 600 and 700 monographs a year, so obviously, it’s of big interest to us to work out where things are going in this direction and to see if it’s feasible for us to have an open access monographs program.
I think the monograph thing out of Finch is really interesting because it really wasn’t picked up in any large degree for the first six, seven, eight months after Finch, in which most publishers were understandably scrambling to get their procedures in place by the first of April 2013 to meet the RCUK’s policies. But over the last six, eight months, I think we’ve seen a lot more action on open access monographs as kind of collective schemes like Knowledge Unlatched, individual publishers like Palgrave, Springer a bit before that have been doing OA monographs, and from OUP’s point of view, we’re in the OAPEN project, which is an OA monograph project, and we are due to publish our first OA monograph outside of that project very soon as well. The big question for monographs is where the money comes from. It’s not covered in the RCUK policy. It won’t be covered in the HEFCE policy.
KENNEALLY: I believe Wellcome Trust has issued its own (overlapping conversation; inaudible).
JACKSON: Wellcome is funding monographs, and in fact, the first one that we’re going to publish on our own steam is a Wellcome-funded monograph. But there are big questions about how it will be resourced in the long run, and I certainly wouldn’t say that we’re in a position to answer that question as of yet.
KENNEALLY: That raises a point for you, Mark, which is that there seems to be an expectation, and I think this may be your perspective, that publishers expect this all to get paid for somehow by the funders. How do you respond to that?
THORNLEY: During the transition, yes, but we have to come to a new equilibrium. The minister, David Willetts has been very clear. At the end of the day, he would like to see this as a relatively cost-neutral activity. The consideration is there’s sufficient money in the system. We just have to make that money flow around at different points in the system.
But just to think about a specific point Rhodri was going about, monographs. Our policy, yeah, excludes monographs, but for the very solid reason. At the time, there weren’t the vehicles for that. However, we’ve been quite relaxed about how the funding we’ve made available can be used, so someone could say, actually, this monograph has come out of RCUK for new research. The institution is free to spend the money we give them on doing that if they want. They just have to justify how they spend the block grant we provide them.
KENNEALLY: So do you feel there is currently enough money in the system?
THORNLEY: OK –
I would say the evidence is yes at the moment, because universities are not spending the money they have. The evidence from university sector is – I think Michael will back me up on this, and from what I’ve talked to (inaudible) – they’re not to spend. They haven’t yet spent the money we’ve given them.
There was a lot of talk when the policy was launched, yeah, there’s going to be rationing, universities are going to penalize the soft dollars humanities subjects in favor of paying all the money over to biomedicine and all the other subjects like that. The evidence is, they’re struggling to spend the money at the moment, partly because they don’t yet have all the full systems in place. I think partly also because the education of the author community has to (inaudible). But we are ramping the money up now over the next five years.
CLARK: Can I just ask, then, Mark, is one of the reasons why they’re struggling to spend the money because the RCUK has explicitly acknowledged there isn’t enough money to pay for everyone, and 45% or whatever is the figure for year one? So they’re struggling to spend the money because they don’t know how to open the gates without opening them too wide that they won’t have enough to pay for everyone, if you know what I mean.
THORNLEY: Well, certainly. One of the things I do in my spare time is I’m actually responsible for implementing the RCUK open access policy on our own research institutes within NERC. And they’ve actually made a decision they don’t want to spend the money with certain publishers. They feel certain publishers get enough money as it is already, and they don’t want to leave them any more money. And I’m hearing other universities around sort of expressing that sentiment. But it’s also because we’ve already reached 100% compliance in one of our institutes because they can use the green route as well.
But yeah, I would say it’s a mixture of issues, but I think part of it is that authors who get in the grips of demand, papers are now only starting to really start coming through the pipeline, which were submitted after the beginning of April anyway.
KENNEALLY: Mark, when you said that they’re not spending the money, I was thinking that they’re saving it for a rainy day, but around here, it’s either raining or going to rain, so that ought to happen fairly quickly, right? But Audrey McCulloch, so what about that question? Do your members express concerns around that as to whether there is enough money in the system right now?
McCULLOCH: Yeah, and I think from my smaller members, the concern will be that the larger publishers can enter into membership agreements with institutions and how do the smaller publishers do that? Institutions don’t want to talk to 3,000 publishers. They want to talk to one person and sort it all out. So there’s the top five, seven publishers that they’ll work with, and then what about the 2,900 and whatever that are left that also need to process these charges? That’s where the CCC’s route are going to come in, and OAT, and all the other ones that are coming through to help the long tail process the payments so they’re not missing out.
But I have to say, I had a little bit of concern about what Mark was saying, and I think he knows exactly where I’m going with this. Certain institutions are refusing to pay APCs for certain publishers, which then raises the issue of are authors being allowed to choose where they may wish to publish their work, and is their academic freedom being reduced? Which I think is a huge concern.
KENNEALLY: Interesting point, and probably one for a different discussion.
KENNEALLY: But let me go back to your point about the recognition that there will be a role for intermediaries in all of this. It strikes me that in this system of a mixed economy, as we’ve heard, and one where there are so many different options, the notion of outsourcing the question must become more and more attractive to your members.
McCULLOCH: Yeah, it has to. A lot of the smaller societies either work with larger commercial publishers or larger not-for-profit societies like CUP or UP to be able to continue publishing, basically. And that’s one way that they stay in business and they’re able to continue to do their learned society activities. My concern is, more of that will happen and we’ll see less independent publishing going on. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, but I think it will be a shame if we lost a lot of independents and those publishers.
But just getting a share of that money during the transition, and not just during the transition. Everybody talks about a transition, but when the world is asking for different things – learned societies in the U.K, don’t just publish U.K. research. They publish research from all over the world, and therefore, they have to meet the needs of their authors from all over the world. That can be by green, it can be by gold. That’s why I think I’m not sure we’re ever going to see a full transition. I think from my point of view, we’re going to see the mixed economy bed in and settle down. So how we then balance APC charges on the one hand to countries like the U.K. who would like to go fully a gold way with subscriptions that are still being charged for the rest of that research that’s not being paid for through gold APCs is going to be a huge challenge.
KENNEALLY: We called this panel The Authors Are Coming, and it strikes me that we should have said The Authors Are Coming, and Everyone Else, because what Mark pointed out around the disruption of publishing is that it has exposed the roles of so many different types of players, stakeholders, in scholarly publishing. They probably weren’t so obvious, they weren’t highlighted before, so there were the funders, there were the authors, there were the librarians and the institutions and so forth. And that is really what is going to continue to be a mixed economy because there are so many players. You will never find one solution that fits all.
McCULLOCH: Absolutely not. Some of the studies that have come out recently about how journal articles are used over time and how they’re accessed and downloaded have raised some really surprising results, even from within publishers who are publishing this stuff, in that it’s not a clear cut between STM and AHSS as to the length of time that articles are accessed and people want to download them. It really is a long a tail of access for a lot of subject areas that are completely overlapping, so finding one solution for even just a split between STM and AHSS is not going to be possible.
KENNEALLY: Anyone here think anything else other than that it is not a one-size-fits-all world? Mark, RCUK has a mandate, but yet, you’ve begun to recognize that there is more than a single way of going about this?
THORNLEY: We certainly recognize, I think, in terms of specific licenses and the inclusion of third-party material, it may well be that there is one-size-fits-all for certain discipline areas. My personal opinion of green is it was a solution that was invented to fix a problem that wouldn’t be there had we got the system right in the first place. It was a solution brought in to solve an issue caused by lack of access, but actually, if we get gold right, it will remove the need for green in the sense green is there to provide delayed access to stuff. If we can get gold right, it will remove the need for green, I would say.
So in that sense, when people say, well, the reason green still, to m, has attraction is the fact that an awful lot of people see gold as an expensive option, and either don’t want to spend money on gold or don’t have the resources to spend on gold. They see green as a cheaper option. But that cheaper option comes very much at a cost of delayed – it’s not open access. It’s delayed access.
So, going back, is there one? Because you could also say, well, in the old model, a subscription model was a one-size-fits-all model, and it seemed to work for quite a few years. So I think we could say there probably will –I would say probably, fast-forward 10 years, there could well be a new model in place which becomes the default model for accessing scholarly output. It’s just this transition, there will be various different models that have to win out against each other until we get to a new stable point.
KENNEALLY: Right. As a way to close out this discussion, I want to ask that question of our two publisher panelists, then. Do you expect to see a mixed economy continue for the foreseeable future, or do you, as Mark anticipates, see there’ll come a time when a single model will prevail? David?
CLARK: As soon as you can tell me how long the foreseeable future is, I can answer your question.
I think certainly we see a mixed economy, and although I can see in some subject areas a more rapid transition. I used to be in charge of physics, and in high energy physics, we have seen a more rapid transition in quite a structured way. It’s quite encouraging. There are some areas I’m working in now in neuro imaging or progeomics where we see again some of those changes taking place. So in well-funded, networked, established areas, you may see a more rapid transition.
More broadly, it seems to be a mixed economy, but again, the foreseeable is a difficult question because we have seen a lot of change. I’ll avoid re-quoting Niels Bohr, but we have also seen a lot of things which have just completely surprised all of us. I think a lot of us have been taken over by how mobile has become a huge thing in a very short space of time, and everything that means for access and rights and development costs. That’s just a left field thing, really, which came in very quickly. And there may well be other things. There may be a third solution. There may be the yellow publishing, which we’ll all now talk about in 10 year’s time. So we’ll see.
KENNEALLY: And Rhodri, you at OUP as well as OASPA, do you expect a mixed economy to continue for some time?
JACKSON: What I was going to pick up on, on what my colleagues said, which is, actually to go off on a slight tangent. Jeffrey Beal, who’s a librarian in Colorado who came up with Beal’s List, which is a list of –
KENNEALLY: He’s on the hunt for predatory OA journals.
JACKSON: Of predatory open access publishers. Unfortunately, he undermined his credibility quite a lot with an article he wrote in December which contained some reasonable points about open access, but it also contains rather strange ramblings about collectivization and anticorporatism and so on, and was very anti-European, which I found a bit troubling as a European.
KENNEALLY: Oh, I would, too.
JACKSON: But anyway, in amongst all that output, he talked about collectivization, and it makes you think about the Soviet Union.
KENNEALLY: Oh, mixed economy notions.
JACKSON: And about left-wing policies and so on. And one thing about the open access movement in general is it’s very deterministic. It’s like we will move to open access publishing, and this will happen, and this is a transition to something. And I just think that’s a rather crass view on life. Things will change in the next five years, and who’s to say, green, gold? What’s there going to be in five, six, seven year’s time? There could be all sorts of other models of publishing and there could be all sorts of ways of doing things. So yes, in short, there will be a mixed economy, and who knows what’s going to happen in the long run? But there’s certainly not going to be a switch to go to open access in two year’s time.
KENNEALLY: I want to thank the panel, Mark Thorley from the RCUK, David Clark, Elsevier, Rhodri Jackson at OUP, and Audrey McCulloch from ALPSP. Thank you.