A two-day Conference organised by the Academy of Social Sciences and kindly sponsored by the THE, Routledge, Wiley Blackwell and SAGE to look at the implementation of the recommendations of the Finch Review for Open Access publishing in the UK.
Open Access publishing is a rapidly developing issue within social sciences and humanities so it was no surprise that this seminal conference attracted enormous interest from far and wide.140 people packed the main hall of the Royal Statistical Society in London on each day to hear a range of expert speakers consider the many facets and implications of the move to open access publication of academic work, as discussed by Professor Dame Janet Finch AcSS and the working party she led at the request of David WIlletts and in the report bearing her name: Accessibility, Sustainability, Excellence: how to expand access to research publications (pdf) .
Material available on this website
The report below provides links to each of the presentations in the order in which they were given, which will be loaded as soon as they become available.
Introduction by Professor Dame Janet Finch AcSS
Note: this introductory address was actually delivered at the beginning of the afternoon session as Dame Janet experienced train problems and did not arrive for the start of the morning session.
Dame Janet (right) set the conference in context, congratulating the Academy for staging such an important and valuable event. She noted that there were many common misconceptions and some misinformation about the issues.
Her group was commissioned by government to be independent, not simply writing what Ministers had already decided. She said she was confident that the government did not already have advice on this. The group was asked to advise on whether there was a way of expanding access within a diverse and complex ecosystem; there was no easy answer so it was a question of how to move forward. The group was not to debate 'if' nor to destablise the situation.
The specification also related to peer reviewed publications from research. Data was not part of the group's remit, although this has been considered by the Royal Society separately.
The discussions were confined to publicly funded research as part of the transparency agenda. The government felt it to be important for citizensand organisations to have access to data and research, with a belief that this will help drive economic growth and improve the quality of life. Most academics would agree that there are ways in which research would be useful and help change the world. The government finds it strange that research outputs are not freely available. As a result, nothing was said about research that was not publicly funded, nor about independent researchers - of which she is one herself. The focus was on those with a job in a university, paid for by public funds with a research requirement in their contract - this is 'publicly funded research'.
We need to recognise the change already underway. The complex ecosystem is not stable. The internet has largely brought this about, changing expectations. Research publications are lagging behind. 10% of publications globally are already author pays, and the number is growing. Experimentation is going on, with different forms of publication and of peer review. There is potential for anarchy if the situation is not identified and grasped. Essentially, it's a question of electronic access, so the Group decided to make recommendations only about journals as most academic monographs are not electronic, However, ultimately, the same issues do apply.
The system is currently breaking down. The Group wanted to recognise change, embrace it and map out an orderly transition.
There are many different interests, so it is very difficult to reconcile it all. Some differences are within sectors: the effect on universities varies by proportion of researchers publishing in academic journals.
Some voices say publisher profits are too high and they should be reduced. But the same voices can say that learned societies need to keep their profits high to fund their activities. This is contradictory and incompatible with a way forward. So, the Group agreed that it was looking less for a solution as for a practical way forward; it won't be perfect for everyone but will be the best fit for the success criteria and will provide a solution everyone can live with.
Dame Janet wished to correct some misunderstandings about the recommendations. The main recommendation was for a mixed economy between 'author pays' and subscriptions. She envisaged the balance between the two would shift over time and did not recommend a swift move to Gold Open Access. Neither did she expect everything to be published by Gold OA ever, but rather that we should expect a mixed economy for the foreseeable future. Gold OA requires a different business model. A sustainable business model for all in the ecosystem offers greater opportunities for experimentation; some is already happening. University presses will probably play a greater role in the future.
The transition needs to be gradual; if it isn't the situation will be destabilised. BioMed is already largely Gold OA but, in Humanities and Social Science (HSS), Gold OA is a small fraction. Disciplines will move at different speeds to achieve change. It is important that HSS are not harmed by the transition and that the quality of reseach and publications are not undermined; however, it is also important, they are not left out of the changes. Dame Janet hoped that the conference would help encourage policy and implementation.
Finally, she noted that the OA movement is a 'Broad Church' with several evangelical wings believing different things. We need to engage on a practical level, trying not to lose the big picture whilst delving into the detail.
The transition to Finch – the implications for the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Professor Dame Lynne Brindley DBE, Member of AHRC Council and former Chief Executive, The British Library (right).
Click here to download her keynote address as pdf.
Click here to view text on a webpage.
The transition to Finch – the implications for individual researchers, both within and outside of HEIs
Professor Tim Blackman AcSS, Pro Vice Chancellor (Research, Scholarship and Quality), The Open University (left)
Click here to download the presentation slides (pdf).
and Professor Robert Dingwall AcSS, Director, Dingwall Enterprises (left)
The transition to Finch – the implications for REF 2020
Paul Hubbard, Head of Research Policy, Higher Education Funding Council for England
The transition to Finch – the implications for author rights and IPR
Maureen Duffy, Author, President of Honour, British Copyright Council
and Professor Charlotte Waelde, Professor of Intellectual Property Law, University of Exeter
Click here to download the presentation slides (pdf)
The transition to Finch – the implications for academic libraries
Jude England AcSS, Head of Social Sciences, The British Library
Click here to download the slides and talk notes as pdf. Please note this is a large file.
Webpage report of talk to follow.
Closing remarks from the Chair
Professor Dame Janet Finch DBE AcSS thanked the questioners and speakers. She drew attention to the title of her Report, noting that the three pillars of Excellence, Sustainability and Access were at risk if people do nothing.
Day 2 - the Learned Society Perspective
Stephen Anderson introduced the second day of the conference, thanking the sponsors for their generous support, without which this important event could not have taken place.
Opening Remarks by the Chair:
Professor Martin Hall, Vice Chancellor, University of Salford, member of the Finch Committee and Chair of the JISC OA implementation group
I was a member of Janet Finch’s group, which has full participation from representatives of the publishing industry. Academics have welcomed this opportunity to debate these issues in depth with publishers. The Finch Group decisions were incomplete on issues relating to learned societies; there is nothing definitive in what was proposed there.
Panel Discussion: Visioning the future for publishing learned society Journals – the implications for the arts, humanities and the social sciences
- Dr David Green AcSS, Global Journals Publishing Director, Routledge (above right)
- Philip Carpenter, Vice-President and Managing Director for Social Sciences and Humanities, Wiley Blackwell (above centre) Click here to download slides (pdf)
- Ziyad Marar, Global Publishing Director, SAGE (above left)
The transition to Finch – the perspective of the USA
Dr Felice J Levine, Executive Director, American Educational Research Association
Click here to download the text of her presentation here (pdf).
Click here to read the presentation as webpage.
The transition to Finch – learned societies and the uses of publisher income
Sally Hardy AcSS, Chief Executive of the Regional Studies Association
and Professor Stephen Bailey, Professor of Public Law and Head of the School of Law, University of Nottingham, and Vice President elect of the Society of Legal Scholars
The transition to Finch – the implications for Learned Society business models
Dr Rita Gardner CBE, Director of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), member of the Finch Group and Chair of the Academy of Social Sciences learned societies working group on Open Access
- Dr David Green AcSS, Global Journals Publishing Director, Routledge
- Philip Carpenter, Vice-President and Managing Director for Social Sciences and Humanities, Wiley Blackwell
- Ziyad Marar, Global Publishing Director, SAGE
- Sally Hardy AcSS
- Professor Stephen Bailey
- Dr Rita Gardner CBE
Closing remarks from the Chair:
Professor Martin Hall
Why was there a Finch group? The questions came from BIS and the Treasury: how could publicly funded Intellectual Property (IP) be directed to SMEs for economic gain. David Willett’s ‘got it’ when he tried to write a book and lost his email address at Oxford University, thereby losing access to publications, and he realised what happens. This is a change from the old direction of universities in order to maximise profits from IP.
‘Finch’ is clear about process: it was never meant to be a conclusive report. The transition will be complex and take up to ten years. Some form of OA is inevitable (it has already transformed the music industry) so the question is how to manage the transition. We have begun here to unravel the questions.
Speaking as a Vice Chancellor, in UUK few Vice Chancellors ‘get it’. The issues of the roles played by learned societies and the costs of electronic publishing don’t permeate up to senior level. We need to lobby as these questions don’t get onto the agenda and discussion is still at a basic level.
There are gaps in the Finch report. It is an imperfect document. One gap is the learned societies, also the independent researcher with no funds to pay APCs available. Another is HSS monographs – currently residing in the ‘too difficult’ pile. But we do need monographs for much work, and yet they are almost unpublishable already with very small print runs.
The rapidity of policy implementation after ‘Finch’ is an issue. HEFCE policy is the one that will shape institutional behaviour. In the REF you need international publications to score a 4 or 3*: this will be affected. HEFCE is concerned with all research an institution wants to submit, not just RCUK publications. We need to put strong positions to HEFCE now. This will be the decider.
Beyond Open Access publishing, Open Access connects to other aspects of the Open agenda. Open Data can interlock seamlessly with a publication. There are now possibilities in data and text mining, which can work in different ways. The same is true for medical science, which is the driver of Open Data and Open Access. Meta-analysis is possible with global data sets.
I commend the Academy of Social Sciences for bringing together this crucial conversation and discussion. Thank you to all panel members.
Stephen Anderson, Executive Director, Academy of Social Sciences (below)
We are influencing the debate. The Academy is to have bilateral meetings with BIS and ESRC. Central to this is Rita Gardner’s working group of learned societies on Open Access publishing. The Group is open to Arts and Humanities too.
- The Academy is part of the Strategic Forum for the Social Sciences. Its meeting this week is looking at the impact of Open Access on social science, arts and humanities. A series of work is to come out to bring together a collective response.
- Support from publishers. Contemporary Social Science – the journal of the Academy – is young and does not yet bring in any net income. One publisher is endeavouring to help us participate in a number of discussions internationally, so the Academy can play in to a wider discussion.
- This conference has been perceived as seminal. The Academy is committed to taking forward this lead and its Council are considering how best to do this.