[Taxacom] UNESCO Open Science Recommendation

Nick Grishin grishin at chop.swmed.edu
Sat Mar 7 17:00:56 CST 2020


Here is Stephen's logic.

If institution pays for publication access (paywall) from overhead, 
researchers have more money to do research and thus apply for fewer grants 
to bring in more overhead, because they already have enough research money 
as it stands.

If researchers pay for publishing (OA), they have less money from their 
current grants available for their research program, and they would be 
more inclined to write more grant proposal, and thus generate more overall 
overhead by bringing more money in.

I must admit that this logic sounds a little wicked to me (a bit like a 
conspiracy theory) and I am not so sure that institutions are aware of 
this money-making potential. I guess now, after reading these posts they 
may be. And I certainly do not know how the Unis in NZ think about these 
issues. But I am pretty sure that at my Uni this thought never entered 
anyone's mind.

Overhead is a tricky business. Different granting agenices do it 
differently.

NIH pays overhead on top of the grant. E.g. NIH approves $100,000 in 
funding. And that means they add $56,000 overhead to it for my Uni, making 
$100,000 available for research in my group.

NSF pays overhead from the grant. E.g. NSF approves $100,000 in funding. 
And that means I pay ~$36,000 overhead and can use only ~$64,000 for my 
research (the same rate of 56% on the research money available to me: 
64*0.56=36).

Some agenices indeed do not allow overhead and the Uni decides what to do 
in such cases. Once, I was awarded such a grant and applied for overhead 
waiver on the basis that the agency didn't allow overhead at all. My 
application was denied and I was told to either reject the funding, or pay 
the amount equal to the minimum overhead the Uni can charge (10%) from 
other grants that allowed it.

n








On Sat, 7 Mar 2020, John Grehan via Taxacom 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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