Open Access: HEFCE, REF2020 and the Threat to Academic Freedom

Most academics would perhaps support an open access policy to their research, but it would appear that the current direction of government policy, albeit pointing toward freedom of access, is entering the all too often grey area of what it means to be open.

An article posted on the Disorder of Things blog and mailed out via the CAMPAIGNFORTHEPUBLICUNIVERSITY@JISCMAIL.AC.UK makes very interesting reading.

For those familiar with evil media stratagems, the so-called “gold” route is, it would seem, exemplary grey media.

Here’s a summary

  • The Government is pushing academic publishing to a ‘pay-to-say’ model in order to achieve open access to publicly funded research
  • This ‘gold’ route to open access, which levies Article Processing Charges, (as proposed in the Finch Report and taken up by RCUK and HEFCE) poses a major problem for academics in the UK:
    • It threatens academic freedom through pressures on institutions to distribute scarce APC resources and to judge work by standards other than peer review
    • It threatens research funding by diverting existing funds into paying for publications (and private journal profits) rather than into research
    • It increases academic inequality both across and within institutions, by linking prestige in research and publishing to the capacity to pay APCs, rather than to academic qualities
    • It threatens academic control of research outputs by allowing for commercial uses without author consent
  • In response, academics should:
    • Practice and lobby for ‘green’ open access of all post-peer reviewed work within journals and institutions
    • Lobby against proposed restrictions on REF2020 and against compliance pressure for ‘gold’ open access
    • Demand clear policies from Universities around open access funds
    • Ensure institutional resources are not unnecessarily spent on APCs
    • Protect the integrity of scholarly journals by rejecting the pressure for ‘pay-to-say’ publishing

    There’s a pdf version of the full piece here Open Access: HEFCE, REF2020 and the Threat to Academic Freedom

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