The Finch Group needs to grasp the nettle

September 12, 2013

[Background: read Stephen Curry’s excellent summary of the new BIS select committee report on Open Access.]

Paul Jump’s coverage of open-access issues in Times Higher Education continues with today’s post discussing the fallout from the new BIS report. That report says:

The Finch group, composed of representatives from publishers, universities, funders and libraries […] was charged with determining a route to open access to which all interested parties could sign up.

There’s your problem, right there. Barrier-based publishers want the opposite to what everything else wants: to set the default to zero access. It’s fundamentally impossible to satisfy both researchers/students/doctors/businesses that want access, and publishers that want to deny them access.

The Finch Group — or BIS, if they can’t get it done — is going to have to grasp the nettle and accept that the UK’s solution on open access is going to make someone very unhappy. The only question is whether that Someone is going to be (A) barrier-based publishers, or (B) literally everyone else in the world.

Toughie.

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8 Responses to “The Finch Group needs to grasp the nettle”

  1. Stevan Harnad Says:

    [REDACTED]

  2. Mike Taylor Says:

    Stevan,

    I’ve removed your long comment because it was simply a cut-and-paste of your own blog-post rather than a comment on what we’re discussing here. I see that you’ve also posted the exact same 430-word article as a “comment” Richard Poynder’s blog, and on Nature News, and on Times Higher Education, and on The Scientist, and probably many others that I’ve not bothered to find.

    Come on, Stevan. You know this isn’t right. We’ve been over this before. Your blog is your platform; other people’s blog are their platform, where you (like everyone else) are invited to engage. Don’t you see how rude what you’re doing is? Don’t you wonder why no-one else does it? Don’t you realise that the Web runs on social norms as well as technical protocols? Do you really want to be the only one taking a dump on the Web’s social contract?

    As always, you’re welcome to comment here when you’re actually commenting, as on some previous occasions. But you are not welcome to hijack this site for your own propaganda.

    If you do it again, I’ll just delete your post without comment. I don’t want to have to ban you because you’re an important voice in the OA movement, but if I have to then I will.

  3. Stevan Harnad Says:

    FAQs of life

    A deletion and a public lecture for spamming!

    Coming from another ubiquitous polemicist, that’s rather rich.

    I guess you didn’t agree with the message, hence its relevance.

    As to cut/pasting: When you’ve responded often enough to the same non-sequiturs (from countless new voices and venues), you too may learn the virtues of cut/pasting FAQs rather than trying to reinvent the wheel each time.

    What’s it to be this time: a deletion, a lecture, or both?

  4. Mike Taylor Says:

    What’s it to be this time: a deletion, a lecture, or both?

    A lecture, as would be obvious if you’d read the previous one. There would be no call for me to delete your last comment, because it is a commant and not a copy-paste of a tangentially related essay.

    I refuse to believe you can’t see the distinction.

    I guess you didn’t agree with the message, hence its relevance.

    We never, ever delete comments because of not agreeing with their message. In fact I think yours is only the second comment we’ve ever deleted, other than spam.

  5. Stevan Harnad Says:

    “Tangentially Related”

    MT: “The Finch Group — or BIS, if they can’t get it done — is going to have to grasp the nettle and accept that the UK’s solution on open access is going to make someone very unhappy. The only question is whether that Someone is going to be (A) barrier-based publishers, or (B) literally everyone else in the world.”

    It is not just publishers who oppose the BIS recommendation to fix Finch by mandating and monitoring immediate repository deposit instead of double-paying pre-emptively for Gold CC-BY: It is the Wellcome Trust, whose underlying fallacious but tenacious reasoning and undue influence on Finch/RCUK I mapped out in the post you deleted.

    I have not gone back and read all your ubiquitous comments on Finch since t appeared, but I seem to recall that, unlike me, you were in favour of its preference for the pre-emptive payment for Gold CC-BY and the downgrading of Green repository deposit as inadequate and a failure (the Wellcome stance). (Please do correct me if I am mistaken.)

    We may indeed believe that we “never, ever delete comments because of not agreeing with their message.” Mental mettle is subtle, and resourceful: Partisan sentiments can make themselves felt in forms other than explicit perceived disagreement — such as perceived spam, or more stinging nettle

  6. Mike Taylor Says:

    Where have the Wellcome Trust opposed mandating immediate-deposit Green? I don’t see how the fact that they pay their grantees’ Gold APCs implies any objection to people taking other routes. Unless they’ve said something that I missed.

    My own position, stated several times, is that I’ve got no very strong preference for either Gold or Green, caring much more about Open Access. I do think there are advantages to Gold, and that our current Green infrastructure needs a lot of work, but those are minor issues compared with the big one of open vs. non-open.

    What I have been very negative about, and this may be what you’re thinking of, is the specific form of Green that Finch favours, i.e. prohibiting commercial use and in any case embargoes for one to two years. When that is the Green on offer, then yes, I prefer Gold. But the much better Green that the BIS select committee is recommending is much more appealing. (For that matter I am also not super-keen on Finch-flavoured Gold, which seems to be £2000 APC fed to double-dipping troll-access publishers.)

    I don’t understand what point you’re trying to make in your last paragraph, so I will simply repeat: we never, ever delete comments because of not agreeing with their message.

  7. Stevan Harnad Says:

    Author Freedom of Choice

    MT: “Where have the Wellcome Trust opposed mandating immediate-deposit Green? I don’t see how the fact that they pay their grantees’ Gold APCs implies any objection to people taking other routes. Unless they’ve said something that I missed.”
    In their recommendations and support for the Finch Report, which declared Green ineffective and recommended downgrading it to preservation archiving instead of OA.

    See:

    On Robert Kiley (Wellcome Trust) on Finch Report and RCUK Mandate

    RCUK: Don’t Follow the Wellcome Trust OA Policy Model!

    MT: “My own position, stated several times, is that I’ve got no very strong preference for either Gold or Green, caring much more about Open Access. I do think there are advantages to Gold, and that our current Green infrastructure needs a lot of work, but those are minor issues compared with the big one of open vs. non-open.”

    The advantages you see in Gold lie in your preferred definition of OA (and of “open” vs. “non-open”). And we are talking about Green OA and Gold OA, not Green and Gold. Your preferences are hence camouflaged by using the terminology generically.

    There are, as you know, two kinds or degrees of OA:

    Gratis OA: Free online access

    Libre OA: Free online access plus certain re-use rights (e.g., CC-BY).

    You are an advocate for Libre OA, and when you use the word “OA” and “open” you mean Libre OA.

    I am an advocate for OA, and have given many reasons — empirical, logical, strategic and practical — for why Green, Gratis OA must come first:

    (1) Gratis OA is a prerequisite of Libre OA.

    (2) Gratis OA is more urgently needed than Libre OA.

    (3) Gratis OA is needed by all fields, Libre OA only by some.

    (4) Gratis OA faces far fewer publisher obstructions than Libre OA (because it is much less of a threat to publishers).

    (5) Green Gratis OA can be mandated without over-riding author choice of journal, Libre OA cannot.

    (6) Green Gratis OA entails no extra cost; Libre Gold OA does.

    So when you say you have no preference between Green and Gold and what you care about is OA, what you mean is Libre OA, which in turn entails a preference for Gold OA.

    And that is exactly what you have been defending in your many public postings: You have criticized Green OA mandates for not requiring Green Libre OA (even though such mandates are presently impossible and would lead to author non-compliance and non-feasibility of Green OA mandates) and you have endorsed paying for Libre Gold OA in preference to providing just Gratis Green.

    Not only is Libre OA just as premature and out of reach of mandates today as (Fool’s) Gold OA (overpriced, double-paid, and, if hybrid, also double-dipped) is out of reach financially today, but even immediate, unembargoed Gratis Green OA is still not quite within reach of mandates yet:

    The compromise has to be precisely the Liège-model immediate-deposit mandates now being recommended by BOAI-10, HEFCE and BIS (with the eprint-request Button tiding over user needs during any allowable embargo) first.

    Once those mandates are adopted globally, they will not only provide a great deal of (Gratis, Green) immediate-OA (at least 60%), plus Button-mediated Almost-OA for all the rest (40%), but they will also exert irresistible global pressure for immediate-OA (Gratis, Green; now, with all articles being immediately deposited, just one access-setting click away), and 100% immediate-OA will in turn eventually exert cancelation pressure on publishers, which will force downsizing and conversion to Fair-Gold OA and as much Libre OA as users need and authors wish to provide.

    MT: “What I have been very negative about, and this may be what you’re thinking of, is the specific form of Green that Finch favours, i.e. prohibiting commercial use and in any case embargoes for one to two years. When that is the Green on offer, then yes, I prefer Gold. But the much better Green that the BIS select committee is recommending is much more appealing.”

    Yup, I know that’s what you prefer! And I’ve explained why your preferences are not directly realizable above. They are pre-emptive over-reaching. Grasp what’s reachable first — immediate-deposit mandates — and that will bring the rest of what you seek within reach. Keep counselling unrealistic over-reaching instead, and we’ll have yet another decade of next to nothing. First things first.

    And that is precisely what BIS (and HEFCE and BOAI-10) are recommending to be mandated (not what you seem to be imagining).

    OA mandates can only work if it is in authors’ interests to comply willingly: if mandates try to co-opt authors’ choice of journals, or cost them money, authors will not comply, and mandates will fail.

    MT: “(For that matter I am also not super-keen on Finch-flavoured Gold, which seems to be £2000 APC fed to double-dipping troll-access publishers.)”

    Even at one quarter the fee, the cost would still be double-paid, hence unaffordable Fool’s Gold (and hence a disaster for a UK that pays it unilaterally). Only Green OA can downsize them to Fair Gold.

  8. Stevan Harnad Says:

    MT: “we never, ever delete comments because of not agreeing with their message…”

    We just ignore them…


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