[GOAL] What an utter, utter waste of UK research funds...

Stevan Harnad amsciforum at gmail.com
Sun Sep 28 15:55:13 BST 2014

Cornée, Nathalie and Madjarevic, Natalia (2014) *The London School of
Economics and Political Science 2013/2014 RCUK open access compliance
report. <http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/59521/>* The London School of Economics
and Political Science, Library, London, UK.

*Abstract:* In September 2014, the London School of Economics and Political
Science (LSE) reported to Research Councils UK on the School’s compliance
with the recently introduced RCUK Policy on Open Access (OA). This reports
provides detail around the article processing charges (APC) data and RCUK
Call for Evidence report. Background In April 2013, the revised RCUK Policy
on Open Access came into effect. The policy requires journal articles or
conference proceedings arising from research funded wholly or partially by
a RCUK grant should be made freely available online (or “Open Access”).
There are two main routes to make papers open access: a) the Green route,
which is the LSE preferred route, when the full text of papers are
deposited into an institutional repository such as LSE Research Online. To
select this route, embargo periods must be no longer than the 12 months
permitted by RCUK (no charge applies); b) the Gold route, which provides
immediate, unrestricted access to the final version of the paper via the
publisher's website, often using a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY)
licence - it may involve payment of an APC to the publisher. In 2013, we
received the *RCUK OA block grant for 2013/14 of £62,862*. We set up the
LSE Institutional Publication Fund using this grant and this was managed by
the Library, allowing eligible RCUK-funded researchers to apply for APC
funds. Additionally, the School was awarded a* pump-prime funding
allocation from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)* for open
access, which was also added to the fund. Of the 141 papers we identified
as RCUK-funded for Year 1,* 50 papers are open access via the Green* route
and *73 via the Gold*, resulting in an *87% compliance* rate.

Seventy-three (73) OA articles, at about £1,000 a shot via Gold -- vs.
fifty (50) at no cost via Green!

That RCUK £62,862 could have funded 4 doctoral research students or 2
postdoctoral researchers. Instead, it is paying publishers even more than
they are already being paid for subscriptions (and for hybrid Gold
publishers it's even double-paying them).

For 73 articles!

And 73 articles that could have been provided for free via Green -- if
instead of dangling scarce money in front of authors RCUK had simply
insisted on immediate deposit, irrespective of embargo length.

One can only hope that the spot-on and timely new HEFCE policy of requiring
immediate deposit, now, in order to be eligible for REF2020, will stanch
this gratuitous, obdurate Finch/RCUK profligacy.

And that the EU's similar policy will help reinforce it.

Meanwhile there's nothing stopping institutions from being more sensible,
by requiring immediate deposit and using the RCUK windfall to better
purpose (till it is sensibly redirected to research).

Stevan Harnad
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