JISC09 Open Access

This session on the economic impact of Open Access recently published. John Houghton who authored the report with Charles Oppenheim is going to talk about the report to start with.

The project tried to quantify the costs and benefits – creating a series of spreadsheets contains elements identified in the process model of Scholarly Publishing, adding in cost data. There are about 2300 activity items that are costed in these sheets. Some example figures for activities in UK Scholarly publishing in 2007 – Reading cost £2.77billion, writing £1.6billion, Peer review £203million etc.

The overall estimate (for UK scholarly publishing in 2007) was £5.4billion

Then looked at cases and scenarios exploring cost savings result from the alternative publishing models throughout the system. Finally models the impact of changes in accessibility and efficiency on returns to R&D.

In summary – OA publishing models (whether Author pays, Overlay etc.) should save money.

John says ‘of course there would have to be a move of money from subscriptions to e.g. author pays funds’ – lets not underestimate the impact of this – this move of funds is likely to be politically charged, and challenging to organisations. I would also be interested in seeing some analysis of how (for example) ‘author pays’ might change the profile of expenditure across institutions – would this result in expenditure being more or less concentrated in research heavy institutions, or is it neutral in this respect?

Other side of the coin – benefits of Open Access models also more than benefits of traditional publishing.

See http://www.cfses.com/EI-ASPM/ for the opportunity to see, and play with, a simplified model.

Now Hector MacQueen (from University of Edinburgh School of Law) talking about Legal Perspectives on OA Publishing – going to make remarks from personal experience. Hector started by thinking about doing research by electronic means – and only gradually come to think of it in terms of Open Access.

In 1978 research was based around physical access – Hector’s material in libraries and archives. You had to get yourself to the physical location, or sometimes via ILL (although often material Hector wanted was not available via ILL).

The first electronic resource in Hector’s area was Lexis (now Lexis-Nexis) – but it was made very clear to the academics that this was not free. Not only was Lexis restricted to a single terminal but there was a ‘gatekeeper’ (person) who you had to go to to get searches done.

Courts (and others) started to make material available on the web – for free. So for formal sources, this was the start of ‘open access’ – or at least free access. The library became less of the place to get resources – moved to the desktop.

Then Hector started exploring the website of individuals who were publishing – and became aware of ‘self-archiving’ activity – especially in the USA. Hector followed suit. There was already a lot of informal sharing (and what Hector describes as ‘informal peer-review’ – essentially pre-publication comments from peers) happening – via email etc.

Hector notes that the Open Access world needs to recognise this informal activity. I agree – I’d go further and say that one of the problems we (Libraries/OA Movement) have is that we tried to formalise this type of activity, rather than working to support the existing informal sharing. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I’m not sure that we are past this stage yet (certainly not in all disciplines) – a consideration of how we can support informal sharing woudl still be a valuable exercise I think.

Hector now commenting on Copyright – the impact of the Google Book Search agreement (how will this impact in the UK?), Project Gutenberg, European Digital Library, Amazon + Kindle – also noting the impact of iTunes on availability of music and the dropping of DRM.

Finally before group discussion, an academic (who?) in Theatre studies.

Those studying early theatre groups (e.g. The King’s Men – Shakespeare’s troop) – have problems tracking records, as can be extremely distributed (around county record offices, various sources in their home location etc.) There is work (Reed) bringing together records from all over the UK – which are being published in an expensive series of books – one per town, a series that has been updated over the last 30 years (I think that’s right). However, the leader of the project negotiated from the off (30 years ago) that he had personal rights to the digital distribution – and so he can now make all the pdfs for the publications available via the Internet Archives, and build a database of information listing actors, troops, locations, plays, writers.

EEBO is another source – a resource created from this called DEEP (Database of Early English Playbooks) – which uses book title pages from EEBO to build a database of Early English Play Books.

EEBO is available via a JISC Collections deal in the UK. This, combined with seamless authentication via IP address, leads people to believe it is ‘free’ – this is an issue when trying to get people to understand the importance of Open Access.

The academic talking about a journal he is involved in which is not Open Access and reflecting why – an editorial stipend from the publisher allows the academics involved to promote the work. However he suspects that if these costs were met effectively by the tax payer, then the overall cost would be lower, as the

Q: I think the question was: What about Open Access outside Higher Education – that is should OA material created by HE be available to all others or just HE community?

A: In general the debate around OA has been focused on STEM – but OA would have a big impact on e.g. Law firms as well

A: The pharmaceutical industry could be a key beneficiary of OA – this is not necessarily a problem but needs to be recognised

A: Need to consider carefully how institutions add value – perhaps what is published is not the value add, but the interpretation of that – knowledge transfer etc.

Q: What would we need to do to make researchers fill the repositories that are out there and empty?

A: (not sure who said this, but a researcher) Mandating deposit essential – but not popular with the academics. Realising that some academics don’t want to be read!

A: Mandating good thing (John Houghton). Something that persuades colleagues is finding things that are available via OA. This means that your own institutional repository is very rarely of interest – it is what is being published elsewhere.

A: Charles Oppenheim – Citation advantage compelling – OA material gets cited more, but the reasons for this not well understood. University of Southampton now more highly cited than Oxford/Cambridge (according to Southampton)

Interesting that the view from the researchers is ‘mandate’. Really good to get researcher’s views, but suspect that the reason they are speaking at this event is exactly because they are atypical.

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3 thoughts on “JISC09 Open Access

  1. One of the problems that I have with EEBO is that I pay for it — as a taxpayer — but have no access to it, since I’m not part of the Ivory Tower. This is morally wrong, and unsustainable just as soon as a journalist gets hold of it.
    Surely HE *want* the public to look at stuff?

  2. Hi Roger,
    As you may know, the contents of EEBO was digitised by Proquest, a commercial body, and they charge for access to the resource, and they also license how the resource can be used by subscribing libraries – including restricting access to members of subscribing institutions.
    However, I would expect the license agreement to include a provision of ‘walk-in access’ – that is to say that anyone coming into the physical library building is also allowed to access the electronic resource. In general I would expect Universities to make provision for members of the public to use their resources (although this will vary depending on the University)
    How convenient this is will of course depend on how close you are to a subscribing library.

  3. Proquest may have done the job. Who pays the subscriptions, which underwrite it all? All we excluded taxpayers do.

    I hope you recognise how howlingly wrong it is to demand, in 2009, in the age of the internet on one hand and carbon emissions, to suggest that 60 million people (minus those in HE) should commute to a library or go without, merely to oblige a commercial company.

    Proquest is not my target here. It is the ingrained attitude of “all for me and none for you; and why aren’t you paying me more?”

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