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Government United Kingdom Science

UK Research Funders: Publicly Funded Research Must Be Publicly Available 61

scibri writes "The UK's research councils have put in place an open access policy similar to the one used by the US NIH. From April 2013, science papers must be made free to access within six months of publication if they come from work paid for by one of the UK's seven government-funded grant agencies, the research councils, which together spend about £2.8 billion each year on research (press release). The councils say authors should shun journals that don't allow such policies, though they haven't said how those who don't comply with the rules will be punished."
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UK Research Funders: Publicly Funded Research Must Be Publicly Available

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  • by acidfast7 ( 551610 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @09:04AM (#40672669)
    facilitate the process like they do with the NIH requirements. It's so much easier than dealing with a journal that does rather than one that doesn't.
    • i actually meant the comment as an author. however, it's also much easier as a reader as well. if i'm not connected to the uni, it's really nice to have the open access option.
    • by LourensV ( 856614 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @09:42AM (#40673007)

      One of the options they mention is to put the paper in an institutional repository (i.e. on a web server run by your university). Even Elsevier currently already allows you to put your final submission online yourself, so that shouldn't be a problem. This is not such a big step as it seems in that respect.

      What I do very much like is the required use of the CC-BY licence if any processing fees are paid. To see why that is such a big deal, here's what e.g. Elsevier normally offers authors: 1) You write the paper, 2) we get a volunteer editor to look at it, 3) the volunteer editor gets some volunteer reviewers to review it, and you scientists go back and forth until the editor says that it's accepted, 4) you sign over your copyright to us, 5) we typeset it, 6) we give electronic and/or paper copies of your article to anyone who pays us for a subscription, and 7) we give electronic and/or paper copies of your article to anyone who pays a per-access fee. Recently, with all the Open Access discussion going on, they've added an option: 8) You pay a $3000 "handling fee" to cover our expenses, and we'll give access to anyone for free.

      Note the catch: you the scientist do most of the work yourself, and pay the publisher for their part of the work, but the publisher still gets exclusive rights to your work! That seems grossly unfair to me. In this new policy, the publisher may still own the copyright even if they get paid, but with a CC-BY licence, everyone else essentially gets the same rights they do, so it's toothless. That is a step in the right direction.

      • Technically, you're most likely using the taxpayers' money to conduct the research in the first place, so I find your argument that the publisher still gets exclusive rights to your work, hard to grasp.

        You've already been hired/paid to complete a project and by accepting the funding, you usually agree to give most of the rights away already (not all rights, most are negotiable, and are usually already negotiated between the Grants Management Office at your institute/university/center/etc... and the NIH/NSF/

        • by LourensV ( 856614 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @01:06PM (#40675439)

          Technically, you're most likely using the taxpayers' money to conduct the research in the first place, so I find your argument that the publisher still gets exclusive rights to your work, hard to grasp.

          I fully agree. As a publicly funded scientist, of course the results of my work (as in, the work done by me) belong to everyone, and so when I'm done, I want to share them with everybody. The problem is that before I can do so, I have to have the paper peer-reviewed and published to make sure it's up to scratch, and in the course of that, I have to give away the rights to share it with the people who paid for the research!

          I don't want the copyright for myself (what am I going to do with it?) The only reason I want to have the copyright is so that I can distribute the paper under a free licence, so that anyone can benefit, rather than just the publisher, its shareholders, and whoever is rich enough to be able to afford the access fee.

      • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

        At least they typeset it. Newer journals expect you to produce a publication ready PDF for them.

    • Unfortunately this is more of a case of the government facilitating matters for the publishers. It is frustrating to see well-intentioned people (with sufficient knowledge ONLY to see that something called "Open Access" would be a good idea) rejoicing over this. The Finch report has completely discounted the Green OA strategy in favour of Gold OA. Rather than allowing publishers to adjust to modern reality by reducing their role in the dissemination of research, they are instead going to be paid big stacks
  • Good news (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like good news to me. But seriously, who *actually* reads journals any more? Pre-print services are more far more convenient. All we need to do is latch on some peer review and ranking system onto the arXiv (or similar) and we get rid of all of these outdated journals.

    • Re:Good news (Score:4, Interesting)

      by INeededALogin ( 771371 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @09:42AM (#40673001) Journal

      But seriously, who *actually* reads journals any more?

      Only the best scientist and researchers in the world.

      All we need to do is latch on some peer review and ranking system onto the arXiv (or similar) and we get rid of all of these outdated journals.

      Sounds like a restricted wikipedia and we all know that wikipedia is immune from mis-information. Honestly, I don't see any issue with journals. They are peer reviewed and most are digital and fully-indexed these days. Journals provide about the only reliable, authoritative documentation on the internet.

    • Re:Good news (Score:4, Informative)

      by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:53AM (#40673763)

      Every scientist who wants to be taken at all seriously. Preprint services are just online document aggregators. Anyone can put anything they want there. And no, a group ranking system won't fix that. Even fields that have preprint services STILL have journals.

      Journals currently provide two essential services - they put their reputation behind their review and publication procedures, and they maintain archives. If bad papers get through, the journal's reputation suffers. They don't want that, so they have a vested interest in making sure bad papers don't get through.

    • What you propose has been around for more than a decade with what are called overlay journals [].

      But the thing is, you're only dealing with published items, so there's no built-in way of improving the article. (asking for clarifications, improving poor grammar, etc.)

      Another alternative was proposed in Jason Priem (known for the Altmetrics Manifesto []) and Brad Hemminger's Decoupling the scholarly journal [] (PubMed), discussing the different functions that journals perform, alternatives (such as overlay journals,

    • by tsa ( 15680 )

      You often need these 'outdated' journals to get an idea of the history of the thing you research. You also need them because not all knowledge is in the newest papers. To be able to read those papers you need a minimal amount of knowledge, which is often in 'outdated,' as you call them, papers that are referred to in the new ones.

      • The back issues are stacked in the library anyway. Keep those and give Elsevier the much deserved kick in the arse. I'd say we just expropriate the parasites and if they dare to say anything against it, string the fuckers up on the next lamppost. Worst bottomfeeders in the history of science.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Research funded by the public should be free to be read by the public. They pay for it, they should get it. And maybe I'm missing something, but I don't understand the benefit of keeping it behind a paywall for six months first. Why shouldn't people get what they paid for right now, not six months from now?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ganjadude ( 952775 )
      Because they put a lot of work into their studies, they should have a short headstart to process that information. The public should most certainly get the work that it pays for and IMO 6 months is perfectly fair.
      • You mean to tell me there are people who publish their studies before even processing the data? Even under a public-funding=public-access system, you can get as much of a head start as you want by delaying publication. Is that not a suitable arrangement?

        • Sometimes we do very large studies that generate enough data for more than 1 paper. We'd like preferential access to all that data we spent months/years generating until we have a chance to get out all the papers we know we can. Before that, opening the data set to our competitors lets them take the citation credits and screws over the people who spent the time doing the actual work.

          • That doesn't make sense. Couldn't your competitors just subscribe to the journal that you publish in? (thus negating the justification you give for the paywall)
      • Re:Good (Score:4, Insightful)

        by vivian ( 156520 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @09:38AM (#40672965)

        Who exactly should get a head start, and a head start on whom?
        The journal publishers? Researchers sometimes even have to pay a fee to submit papers for publication in the first place.
        The peer reviewers? they aren't paid by the journals or by the researchers.
        The researchers? they have already processed the information, which is why they are submitting for publication.

        Leaving a 6 month clause just begs to have endless lobbying to get it extended to 12 months, then 2 years, etc.
        If you are actively researching in a field, you will still be forced to get the expensive peer reviewed journals, usually bundled with a bunch of other journals you don't want at all, but are more or less forced to buy because of the prohibitive cost of buying articles one at a time.

        Journal Publishers basically get all the content written and submitted by scientists for free, selected by peer reviewed by another bunch of scientists for free, then slap a cover on a bunch of them and sell them at obscene prices. The price increases have way outstripped the CPI since the mid 80's and it's way past time the greedy bastards got a shake up.

        • The researchers who spent months/years of their lives generating the data should get a head start on their competitors, who do no work, but take the resulting data set and beat them to the punch publishing some of the multiple papers that come out of a large study. The researchers who did the actual work now lose out on all the citation references that go to the competitor. Citations matter a lot in what type of job you might get next or whether you are going to get that next grant funded or not. Allowin

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      they 6months limit is a compromise to please the journals.

      I don't think they're going to be too pleased about it though. large part of their business is selling access to their archive - which is what certain type of scientists can't avoid since they need to use those archives as sources...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @09:13AM (#40672745)

    This isn't actually a decision from the UK, but from Europe, and applies to all European countries.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah but we can't let the British public know that or they may begin to think that the EU does in fact do things to their benefit and then what would the UK's political machine use for it's populist political scapegoat?

    • All the better.

      I first thought this should be a UN initiative, but then quickly came to my senses as the UN would try and turn it into a revenue stream for themselves.
  • If the government is giving pubic $ to companies for research, then the results of the research should be public. Anything else is corporate welfare. Plain and simple.

    There are many large organizations in Canada that utilize the SR&ED [] that offsets various project costs, but I don't see any publication of what knowledge was gained or discoveries were made.

    • If the government is giving pubic $ to companies for research

      It's college students who fund themselves by stripping, not professors.

  • Great start. I think this should be funded to all publicly funded research, not just science. If the tax payers have paid for it, surely they should be able to read the results of the work they've funded? Not just 'science' (however this is defined).

  • If we allowed every Tom, Dick, and citizen free and open access to the things their taxes paid for, what kind of world would that be? Access to things like that should be reserved for corporate citizens who've proven that they deserve the fruits of public funding, not "the public". That's just crazy socialist talk!
  • Good thing but too often research can't be duplicated because the authors are unwilling to show you the data they used or simply can't because they "lost" it. Make the law require archiving of the data and require access to the data to be open. You don't necessarily have to share all your research data but all that is relevant to the paper.
  • It doesn't mean much if this is done hand in glove with government suppression, surveillance, and harassment to ensure zero research gets done that would threaten lucrative government policies, such as massive petrochemical pollution and the Harper regime in Canada (it's happened to EPA scientists too, IIRC).

    Tony Blair was called a lap dog of US policy, but with strip-mining for tar and draconian DRM bills, little Stephen has eclipsed him.

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