Monday, 17 August 2009

After our meeting

Our meeting last Friday went very smoothly, and the venue was a really refreshing change. Kingston is a lovely location and our hosts were especially accommodating, so thanks are due to Kingston University who not only provided the ample room but also all our refreshments.

Our speakers' presentations were thought provoking and entertaining, and members' contributions in the form of questions and discussion were also very valuable. The networking opportunity was excellent, and we are all hoping to take the UKCoRR forward with various initiatives, after the meeting. A proper write-up of the day will hopefully be appearing on the UKCoRR website soon, along with pictures and slides from our speakers (See our website).

I came away with two flip-chart sheets. One sheet lists issues relating to Open Access author-pays funds, after Theo Andrews of Edinburgh's presentation online at Theo's presentation summarises the issues relating to OA funds that many of us are struggling with. Institutions who are investigating/experimenting with such funds, who had members at our meeting are:
Edinburgh, Nottingham, Warwick, Kingston, Glasgow, UCL and Brunel.

There were different primary drivers for these institutions, including the finance office at Edinburch, Library and research support staff at Glasgow, researchers themselves at UCL and the Pro-VC for research at Brunel.

Issues which were discussed included...
1) Concern about the costs: these might escalate, and sometimes amount to "double dipping" (some publishers are paid by authors and subscribers because they charge authors for OA article publication but don't reduce their subscription fees).
2) Publishers who are aware of funder mandates for OA within 6 months, might introduce 12 month embargoes on post-print availability in OA repositories, in order to force authors to pay for OA publishing of the final version or miss their funder's mandate. (NB the point here is that funders are paying, as authors can claim such costs from funders. But we're all struggling to set up mechanisms by which this can be done - see Theo's presentation for a summary of the issues.)
3) An institutional response might be to set up an OA fund, or it might be to encourage authors to deposit post-prints into the OA repository, rather than paying such publishers' fees. Some researchers object to the fees being charged.
4) The Wellcome Trust does seem to prefer that the authors pay for OA publication, and indeed it suits authors better than depositing themselves because a part of the Wellcome mandate is for PubMed deposit. By paying, authors can leave the PubMed deposit up to the publishers to do. Is the Wellcome Trust's mandate skewing the OA landscape in the way publishers have responded to them, whilst other academic disciplines are no way near as well funded?

There is definitely a lot more to be investigated, on the topic of institutional OA publishing funds.

My other sheet records that the UKCoRR ought to feedback to the JISC that our members would very much appreciate a three month notice period from the JISC, before the projects begin, so that they can attempt to recruit staff before the beginning of a project.

On another note, I'm particularly pleased that my own draft Memorandum of Understanding was presented without any controversy, and so that will be the focus of my own efforts in the near future... watch out for further blog posts and e-mail list postings on that topic!

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