Archive for September, 2011

Leveling the field for open access

Do researchers prefer to publish in closed access journals rather than open access in order to avoid OA publication charges? Librarians would certainly prefer they publish open access, since OA reduces their costs (in the long run) by reducing their subscription burden. I don’t know the answer, but if this is happening, universities might take steps to eliminate the incentive.

Here’s an idea: For each closed access article published, the university assesses a “subscription tax” comparable to what would have been assessed had the article been published open access, or maybe higher. That is, you can continue to support the subscription model, but you’ll have to pay for it, just as those publishing open access have to pay for open access.

The subscription tax goes to the libraries and is used to pay for subscriptions. The university overhead rate can be reduced, for everyone, by the amount raised through this new revenue stream.

Professor Smith’s decision between closed and open can now be made without financial bias. Currently she’ll pay (from her grant) $50,000 overhead plus $1,500 for open access or $0 for closed access. This would change to $48,500 overhead plus $1,500 for open access or $1,500 tax for closed access. Her grant officer is happy because the switch from overhead to article charge-or-tax is dollars-neutral, Smith is happy because she doesn’t need to factor open/closed into her venue decision, and the librarian is happy because more OA publishing is taking place and subscription load is dropping.

I know my arithmetic probably doesn’t come out right, but I hope you get the idea.

I’m sure someone has already thought about this, but this is a blog so I get to write things like the above without bothering to do background research.

(Inspired by Francis Pinter’s video and the recent Guardian piece.)

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