[Taxacom] UNESCO Open Science Recommendation

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Sat Mar 7 16:57:11 CST 2020


 PS: I'm not saying that there are no benefits whatsoever from OA. I'm simply pointing out who gets the major economic benefits (i.e. research institutions and publishers, where by "research institutions", I don't mean scientists themselves), and trying to point out that any additional benefits (i.e. access to published research) fail miserably from a cost-benefit analysis. In other words, the price is just too high for only minor benefits. It is easy to see apparent benefits if you only consider top quality research outputs, but most of the scientific literature simply isn't like that. Nobody needs access to a lot of it, or maybe just a handful of specialists who can get it easily enough anyway. Sure, you might be able to access a few more publications more easily, but at what price? As I said, it isn't going to solve all your literature access problems as it is very unclear how it applies to what has already been published and is still protected by copyright. It also only applies to publicly funded science, so scientists can still publish closed access stuff if they are privately funded.
Stephen
    On Saturday, 7 March 2020, 10:46:40 pm UTC, Stephen Thorpe via Taxacom <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> wrote:  
 
  John,
"Here in the US the institution must 'claim' the overheads before a grant is submitted for funding so it is explicitly part of the total budget. That amount cannot be changed afterward so with that I am not sure what really changes with OA or not. But you seem to be referring to a situation where overhead is taken out one an institution secures an external grant -h if not part of the original budget total would certainly have to reduce the level of research (but I am not aware of that approach which would make no sense at all)."
I think you misunderstand! The only thing that matters is that APCs for OA get paid out of the non-overhead part of the external funding. So either (1) this reduces the amount of research done for the project; or (2) more public money is granted to the institution in order to cover the OA costs. If (2), then the same amount of research gets done, but IT STILL COSTS THE TAXPAYER MORE! So, either way, the taxpayer gets less research PER dollar of funding, and if (2) then there is less public funding available for other things, like, potentially, healthcare, welfare, etc.
Stephen
    On Saturday, 7 March 2020, 10:33:33 pm UTC, John Grehan <calabar.john at gmail.com> wrote:  
 
 Thanks for the clarification. Here in the US the institution must 'claim' the overheads before a grant is submitted for funding so it is explicitly part of the total budget. That amount cannot be changed afterward so with that I am not sure what really changes with OA or not. But you seem to be referring to a situation where overhead is taken out one an institution secures an external grant -h if not part of the original budget total would certainly have to reduce the level of research (but I am not aware of that approach which would make no sense at all).
Where grant funding comes from business/corporations, the money is not public money (other than int he sense that the businesses get their money from paid subscription to their service - wither for goods or services).
Also, again in the US, some funding sources do not pay for overhead, or will only pay a smaller amount. In these cases an institution may accept that for individual grants (have personally benefited from that option).

John Grehan
On Sat, Mar 7, 2020 at 5:21 PM Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz> wrote:

 John,I have tried to explain this several times already. I don't know how it might differ from country to country, but I suspect that it is fairly standard. When an institution secures an external grant of $x, the first thing that happens is that they claim a set proportion (maybe as much as 50%, but it doesn't matter) as "overheads". This is the only money that the institution makes from the funding, the remainder must be spent on research. Until OA became a thing, institutions could not spend any of the remainder on literature subscriptions, they had to pay with their own money. With OA, they can pay the publication costs for the research out of the remainder (which is not their money). In order to maximise revenue, this process has to be repeated as quickly and efficiently as possible, i.e. secure a new grant, claim the overheads, spend the remainder and repeat. If it takes too long to spend the remainder, then that just holds things up. So, it benefits the institution if as much of the remainder as possible is spent "strategically", i.e. quickly and efficiently. There are several ways this might be done. One is simply to overload projects with expenses like travel and accommodation. This is certainly happening. OA provides another way, i.e. by paying high APCs to make publications OA. The key point is that although the research institution is paying publishers, they are not paying with their own money! It is public money.Stephen
    On Saturday, 7 March 2020, 10:09:45 pm UTC, John Grehan via Taxacom <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> wrote:  
 
 Stephen, could you be more specific about what institutions would be able
"to strategically ditch some of the remaining funding, after the
"overheads" have been claimed, such that their employee scientists have to
do less work per dollar of "overheads" claimed by the institution". I guess
I am a bit puzzled about this, but then I really only have experience of a
couple of US university system. In grant funding where overhead was
allowed, it was a set percentage regardless of the research and the
research budget. The amount of work done was set by the research budget,
not the overhead (which was used toward general university facilities
costs). So I am not sure how the university would "ditch" any of the
research funding or that the research time/effort would be reduced by any
of the overheads going towards open access (if I understand correctly that
is what you suggest). Perhaps its different in NZ or elsewhere (any other
clarification of that would be interesting).

John Grehan

On Sat, Mar 7, 2020 at 5:01 PM Stephen Thorpe via Taxacom <
taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> wrote:

>  Wouter said: "I agree, paying over $500 per OA page of a paper benefits
> nobody except the publisher". Actually, that may be importantly incorrect.
> It may also, as I have already tried to explain, benefit the research
> institution if they claim overheads from external funding. It allows them
> to strategically ditch some of the remaining funding, after the "overheads"
> have been claimed, such that their employee scientists have to do less work
> per dollar of "overheads" claimed by the institution. This clearly results
> in a more efficient funding stream for the institution. So, research
> institutions AND commercial publishers may both benefit from high APCs for
> OA. That is going to be a powerful force determining how things pan out in
> relation to OA, don't you think? Scientists objecting to it are effectively
> threatening their employing institution's ability to profit from external
> funding. It wouldn't surprise me if any such scientists found themselves
> somewhat overlooked for promotion, etc.!
> Stephen
>    On Saturday, 7 March 2020, 09:44:02 pm UTC, Wouter Addink via Taxacom <
> taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> wrote:
>
>  Interesting comments. I agree, paying over $500 per OA page of a paper
> benefits nobody except the publisher. That is not a problem with OA, it is
> a problem with the publishers monopoly. I see too logical options,
> Either institutes/universities (or funders) unite and bargain reasonable
> prices (the journals provide a service, it does not have to be totally
> free) or we publish entirely without journals but with some measurements to
> sustain societies.
>
>
> Op za 7 mrt. 2020 20:31 schreef Nick Grishin via Taxacom <
> taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>:
>
> > > OA will prevail.
> >
> > Yes it will. Indeed, science benefits best from open and free
> > communication.
> >
> > But the way OA is implemented today is unreasonable. Paying over $500 per
> > OA page of a paper benefits nobody except the publisher.
> >
> > The amount a journal charges depends on how the journal feels about its
> > standing in the field. Starting OA journals charge less. More prestigious
> > journals charge more. I love Pensoft, they do great job on electronic
> > publishing. But when Zookeys was launched, the charge was about $20 per
> > page, which was somewhat reasonable. And now, it is about $800 per paper.
> > Which for an 8-page paper (usually enough to make your point) translates
> > to $100 per page: a 5-fold increase from the past.
> >
> > Why do most taxonomists publish in Zootaxa these days? Because it is a
> > decent journal that is free to publish in. And more, optional OA is $20
> > per page.
> >
> >
> > One solution is to eliminate journals, because publishing today does not
> > need printing, and each paper can and should stand on its own, not as a
> > segment of a journal. On-line platform that publishes papers, not
> journals
> > (similar to bioRvix, or like Zookeys for everyone, so many people publish
> > in Zookeys these days) seems to be best for science and open
> > communication, and it will be the most economical solution to OA (it
> > cannot cost more than $20 per archived page, probably less). Yes, as
> > someone pointed out, this no-journal system hurts societies. But I think
> > it benefits science overall by providing enormous savings, part of which
> > can be directed towards societies.
> >
> > The agencies that require OA should provide support for such publishing
> on
> > top of research funding they assign to a researcher, not from it, and do
> > it in a way that decreases the total effective funds spent on publishing
> > today, not increases it further. n
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