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UK Parliament seeking feedback on Open Access support January 15, 2013

Posted by David Speyer in Uncategorized.
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Last September, the UK parliament earmarked £10 Million pounds from the science budget to support open access scientific publishing. Earlier this week, the UK parliament announced that they are seeking feedback on this policy, including “how the Government should address the concerns raised by the scientific and publishing communities about the policy”. Details of how to submit comments are here. I don’t know much about UK politics, so I can’t give much advice about how to frame your response, but the deadline is this weekend (Jan 18) so it seems important to get the word out.

Note some bizarre statements in the comment submission guidelines: They want submissions in Word or, if Word is not acceptable, another editable electronic format; they specifically state not PDF. (<rant> Why, oh why has the world forgotten RTF? Or plain ASCII? Or HTML? I understand why most people don’t want to use LaTeX, but the way that the world acts as if Word is the most convenient format drives me nuts. </rant>) They also say “[s]ubmisions become the property of the Committee.” That’s a bizarrely vague statement from a committee discussion copyright policy. I assume they mean that you are implicitly granting them the right to publish it, but if I were phrasing that I would say “you retain copyright to your words but grant us permission to retain your file/manuscript and to publish…”.

I don’t think that the points in the preceding paragraph represent bad intent on the part of the committee, but I do think they show an ignorance of how things are done in the academic world. So let’s help them out!

Hat tips: I learned about this from this blogpost, which I learned about from this comment. I am not familiar with either Glyn Moody or Alex.

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Comments

1. Jim Humphreys - January 18, 2013

The notion of “open access” is still undefined, but one interesting new proposal based on wiser use of the arXiv (for mathematics publishing) has emerged from Tim Gower and others. This link to a current article in *Nature* was provided to us today by my colleague Eduardo Cattani, who like me is now formally retired and nominally somewhat above the fray:

http://www.nature.com/news/mathematicians-aim-to-take-publishers-out-of-publishing-1.12243

There is need for a more consistent and sustainable publishing standard which is affordable even though not as “free” of cost as many people clamor for. Libraries, referres working for free I(as I did many hundreds of times), university administrators, authors of difficult papers, all want a coherent system with durable online access with claims to legitimacy. Is it possible? The commercial model of founding a flimsy new specialized journal every week isn’t sustainable, though it may claim to provide “refereed publishing” for credential-seekers and profits for its investors.


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