This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI), the meeting that led to the launch of the open access movement, and which defined open access thus:
“By ‘open access’ to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.”
A great deal of water has passed under the bridge since 2002, but as 2017 draws to an end what should the stakeholders of scholarly communication be doing now to fully realise the vision outlined at the Budapest meeting?
That is a question I have been putting to a number of people, inviting them to say what they believe the priorities should be going forward for the following stakeholders: researchers, research institutions, research funders, politicians and governments, librarians, and publishers.
Today I am publishing the response I received from Richard Fisher. Richard has worked in University Press publishing for nearly thirty-five years. At the end of 2014 he stepped down as Managing Director of Academic Publishing at Cambridge University Press, and is currently Vice-Chair of Yale University Press, a Non-Executive Director of Edinburgh University Press, and Academic and Policy Correspondent of the Independent Publishers Guild.
Richard is also a Fellow and current Vice-President of the Royal Historical Society. He was on the Advisory Board of the Crossick Report on Open Access and Monograph Publishing, and was a Senior Adviser to the AHRC/BL project on The Academic Book of the Future.
Self-evidently what follows are (entirely) his personal views, although he is extremely grateful to a trio of good friends for their comments on an initial draft.
This is what Richard had to say:
I would describe myself as neither an Open Access (hereafter OA) advocate, nor an OA sceptic: rather I am interested in establishing the widest possible range of effective and sustainable publication options for scholars around the world.
I am innately sceptical of attempts to establish the publishing equivalent of ‘Socialism in One Country’, and regard the impact of policy-makers in the domain of scholarly communication (an arena which until the present century they generally avoided) as at times misguided and on occasion downright hostile to their nominated objectives, no matter how benign.
In that context, I have always regarded ‘taxpayer pays’ arguments for Open Access as perhaps the weakest that supporters of OA tend to marshal, and especially weak in a massively research-exporting polity like the United Kingdom, where at least 80% of the consumers of British-originated research will not have contributed direct tax revenues towards its creation.
Paradoxically, it is the nation with far more fragmented infrastructures of higher education and far less prescriptive research protocols, the United States, where such a ‘public goods’ argument might be made with rather greater force – but the fundamental point is that in a highly unequal but globalised context of knowledge exchange, the relationship between fiscal provision and research production is not (remotely) state-specific.
My own editorial career was in history, politics and the social sciences, and in books (which remain, still, a very print-centric mode of communication) rather than journals. This obviously informs my perspective on debates about Open Access, inasmuch as most of the thousands of researchers with whom I have interacted in the past tend to come at issues in scholarly communication from a very different perspective from those often at the forefront of such discussions, whether in the library, scholarly or publishing sectors.
I regard the stereotypical binary of ‘science journals’ and ‘arts monographs’ as unhelpful, in the same way as the other stereotypical binary of ‘information’ or ‘stories’ is unhelpful, neglecting as it does the place, crucially, of ideas.
In what follows, I have very largely concentrated on the researcher response, especially in the arts, humanities and less quantitative social sciences (hereafter AHSS). It is there, I think, that far and away the biggest challenges for the enhanced adoption of Open Access publishing practice lie.
I am also very conscious that this is an extended blog essay, and not the sort of statistically-supported article that would be appropriate in a more formal context: there are plenty of statistics available (not least around REF submissions, funding allocations, disciplinary size, and other claims made) for those seeking more quantitative definition!
The Budapest Initiative is an enlightened and universalist declaration worthy of Denis Diderot and the encyclopedistes. Wherein lies its greatest ideological strength, and its biggest pragmatic weakness.
Fundamentally, far more researchers than is currently the case need to believe the BOAI to be true, valid and legitimate, and one of the inherent problems of the BOAI is the presumption that all rational women and men must see the inherent ‘rightness’ of the claims made: I simply don’t think that that presumption has ever been justified.
When I see statements by British public bodies claiming that ‘there is now universal acceptance of the principles behind Open Access’, I do sometimes wonder which planet these agencies are inhabiting.
Maybe I am being unfair, as many of the principles of Open Access would and do secure widespread support. But declarations like the BOAI, of course, go beyond access to research per se, and whilst some of the BOAI claims and principles may well be valid all of the time, and all of its claims and principles some of the time, absolutely not all of the BOAI claims and principles are valid, I would respectfully suggest, all of the time. And in this universalism continues to lie (I think) one of the biggest obstacles of all to wider voluntary OA adoption.
I write this having just returned from an annual turn at the EUI in Fiesole, where every year I talk to postdocs on the Max Weber Fellowship programme (one of the western world’s most competitive such programmes in the social sciences) about academic publication options (including OA) and the changing nature of scholarly communication: as per usual, not a single individual amongst the twenty or so ECR historians, lawyers and political scientists I encountered mentioned Open Access as any kind of personal priority at all.
Anecdata doesn’t prove anything, but in the spirit of Richard’s questions, we need to ask much harder questions about why apathy (or, as in the British case, resentful compliance with managerial imposition) remains majoritarian responses to OA protocols in the AHSS disciplines, rather than the vigorous enthusiasm which I suspect the authors of the BOAI expected to engender.
The universalism of the BOAI is disciplinary, financial, legal, linguistic, and format-facing. And yet the research experience of the non-scientific, and especially the non-biomedical disciplines is often very different from the working assumptions made by most (although not all) of those speaking loudest in Open Access discussions.
As is well known, within the UK alone, much ‘research’ in the arts (and indeed social sciences) is generated without any bespoke funder support, and indeed serious research can be published in major peer-reviewed journals by those with no institutional platform or support of any kind.
In part in consequence, the prices and sustained excess profits of large-scale scientific serials (whether ultimately owned by commercial publishers or by learned societies) are not replicated in this world: my student subscription of three guineas (£3.15) to Past and Present, a Champions League-status historical journal, was just not the same as an Elsevier Big Deal…
Within the UK university system, faculty in the ‘non-sciences’ constitute nearly half of academic staff employed: they spend proportionately much less, rather closer to 8% of the overall research funding allocated within the UK.
Nonetheless the application of publishing protocols driven, in essence, by the specific disciplinary requirements of what (in personnel terms) may at given institutions constitute minority scientific subject cohorts has been one of the many frustrations felt by those otherwise predisposed to support some of the Budapest objectives. ‘We don’t tell the biomedics how to do their research – why on earth should they tell us how to do ours’ is a complaint you hear often, and have heard (again) in recent months in discussions about the UK Scholarly Communications Licence, a set of protocols developed at Imperial College with very specific (and entirely legitimate) institutional goals in mind but now being rolled out nationally with (often) zero input from actual researchers themselves.
The most fundamental example of this disciplinary universalism, and something which gets to the core of the problem, concerns the status of the research object itself. In the arts and many of the social sciences, the research object is the end goal itself, whereas self-evidently in many of the STEM disciplines this is not the case. The relationship between author and content, and therefore their attitude towards the transformation of that research into other forms and for other uses, is therefore not the same, and this is one reason why many humanists are so uncomfortable about (say) unauthorised translation or versioning of their work.
It is also, of course, the case that the large majority of research outputs in the AHSS domains come from one or at most two authors, in contradistinction to the STEM norm: again, this powerfully changes the relationship of author to the actual research words used, and heightens the importance of one, citeable, authorised version of record.
Research objects within the AHSS worlds can also become desirable commercial properties of their own, and the fact that some of the most high-profile scholars in these fields produce best-selling books, and indeed secure high-profile academic positions on the back of such publications, reinforces this sense that the output itself is what matters: as I have noted before, Andrew Wylie (perhaps the world’s most celebrated literary agent, aka ‘The Jackal’, who represents some AHSS scholars of great lustre ) and the authors of the BOAI both believe in the widest possible dissemination of the work of major scholars, but they draw diametrically opposed conclusions from that core belief.
Another powerful, and illusory form of universalism is a legal one, and the presumption that ‘the law’ is, fundamentally, that law which applies to the state of California.
There is no such thing as ‘global IP law’, and the Californian legal context in which (say) Creative Commons licences were developed doesn’t necessarily apply elsewhere: it is well known that there exist very significant differences between the concept of Fair Use (in the USA) and Fair Dealing (in England and Wales), and the role and legal status of authors as enshrined in (e.g.) German or French law has no parallel in common law jurisdictions. Again, this blindedness to difference, even in a context of globalising patterns of scholarly communication, has not (I would argue) helped the OA cause.
Very importantly, AHSS authors do not often control or generate or even manage their ‘data’, and their ‘results’ are not intended to be replicable, but interpretive, and thus disputable. Indeed, the relationship of AHSS scholars with the sources of their research is often supplicatory, be it with an archive, or a literary estate, or private library: in many instances, they simply do not possess the rights implied by the BOAI, even if they wish to support its objectives.
The other key universalist presumption has been about formats. The BOAI is, avowedly and explicitly, an online declaration, fundamentally (although not explicitly) oriented to article dissemination. However, there are major global disciplines (literature, classics, history, art) in which, rightly or wrongly, the printed book has retained perhaps surprising levels of traction, and (as Geoff Crossick pointed out in his major report of January 2015) will continue to do so, unless and until an improved experience for extended reading is developed.
This print adherence has been particularly true of the humanist-dominated American university press sector, and those who publish with such presses, with the consequence that a sector which (given its special financial status) might have been expected to be in the vanguard of Open Access experimentation and advocacy has, on the whole and with one or two notable exceptions, not been.
Now, we know that the whole point of many of the newer OA arts-based publishers that have arisen in recent years has been to offer a flexible format proposition, in which print formats can be purchased if required by the individual reader, but as things stand we are still a very long way off the sort of cultural acceptance of long-form on-line scholarly consumption that is necessary (I think) for a full transition to take place.
I may, of course, be entirely wrong about that, and the sorts of results that JSTOR (for example) are now seeing with their Open Access monographic proposition are unquestionably striking But you only have to look at the most recent REF returns in (say) history to see how vital, in a British context, is the commercial monograph sector to the publishing ecology of British faculty in the arts and social sciences (rather moreso, in bibliographic sum, than the non-profit UP side), and this is a sector for whom print consumption continues to dominate by a factor of at least two to one (and the equivalent ratio in the non-profit sector is often as high as five to one).
My final ‘unhelpful universalism’ concerns language. Science in the western world is now a very largely English-language pursuit. But major native-language scholarly traditions of AHSS publication still exist in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Russia, to take only a handful of European examples, and (as is forgotten rather too often) UK-based scholars can and do take an active part in these literatures, especially in article form.
Part of the opposition, or at least lack of support, for OA protocols within some AHSS disciplines has come from those who, rightly or wrongly, have feared the drowning of such native-language voices by better-funded and freely-available English-language material. When one is looking for reasons why the BOAI has not proved the mass call to arms that its proponents perhaps hoped, such anxieties do need to be taken into account.
This is a very long answer. In short, polemical articles by Open Access enthusiasts claiming to know ‘what researchers want’ (when in reality what they mean is ‘what I and my immediate peer groups would find most helpful’) can be profoundly off-putting to those outside the circle of advocacy.
In addition, a concentration on the wants of ECRs, whilst totally understandable at one level, has meant that far too often the needs and aspirations of those working hard in the middle of the scholarly food chain have been neglected. At OA meetings and on blog sites I search in vain for contributions from Senior Lecturers in arts subjects at Leicester or Associate Professors in the social sciences at Purdue. That remains a real problem.
To conclude this section, the other fundamental divergence I see at present is this. For increasing numbers of researchers in the sciences, at all career stages, Open Science is simply Better Science. In the Arts and Social Sciences, I thus far see or hear very, very few such claims.
Again, that may be purely my own myopia. Nonetheless, the allegiance to OA objectives by those working on the innovative frontiers of customary academic discourse (in, say, the digital humanities or other modes of modern critical or experimental thought) has probably only reinforced the sense of my Senior Lecturers at Leicester or Purdue, working on Plato or Comparative Political Systems, that OA is something done by and of concern to Other People. Unless and until their institution decides that it is something that needs to be done to them, which leads neatly on to Richard’s next category…
What should researchers do to realise the Budapest vision? Engage properly with the arguments for and against OA publication and its associated business models, and make up their own minds. As researchers should always do.
The role of institutions, and particularly Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), in the development of Open Access has self-evidently varied hugely, and relatively centralised HE systems like that of the UK have followed vastly different paths to those of (say) the USA.
In the latter context it’s worth emphasising that the sort of ‘university mandates’ launched by several elite American universities in support of OA protocols simply do not have the instrumental force of governmental or institutional policies familiar in the UK and elsewhere in Europe.
From my perspective, the adoption of formal and prescriptive OA protocols by British universities in response to various central funding directives was probably the worst thing that has ever happened to the OA cause in the United Kingdom: once OA was seen not as an opportunity for liberation, but as an instrument of managerialist compliance, its appeal (especially in non-scientific disciplines, where the benefits (as above) are much less obvious) moved quickly from neutral into sharp reverse.
The nexus of relevant UK agencies, from HEFCE (as will be until 1st April 2018), RCUK and its associated bodies, HEIs themselves, plus ancillary bodies like JISC, pushing OA in various (and indeed sometimes competing directions) has generated both a new (and resource-intensive) industry of compliance officers, and has reinforced the sense of OA as something that is done to scholars, with all the bureaucratic irritations that implies.
Now the more vocal OA advocates might well say ‘about time too’, but such an approach has proved, I would argue, disastrous to the happy acceptance and entrenchment of OA principles within large parts of the academic community.
In fairness, HEFCE have shown themselves considerably more alert to these anxieties (and questions of disciplinary difference) than many other sectoral institutions, as discussions around the Finch Report made clear.
Given the almost uniquely centralised nature of research evaluation within the UK, and the fundamental financial importance of the Research Excellence Framework to British HEIs, the danger (it seems to me) of current HEFCE protocols around Open Access and the next two REF exercises, even with their necessary current ambiguities, is that institutions will ‘game’ Open Access for financial gain in much the same way as they have attempted to game other aspects of the REF and its predecessor RAE.
The adoption of OA instruments as a mechanism of future resource enhancement doesn’t seem, to me, quite what the authors of the BOAI intended.
What should researcher institutions do to realise the Budapest vision? Simplify the processes of engagement and implementation, whilst recognising legitimate disciplinary difference (an utterly unfair answer, I know, but that is what we need to aim for)
The principle that she who pays the piper calls the tune is an ancient one of great respectability. The sense in which research funders can and should determine the mode of dissemination of the research findings they sponsor has been altogether more problematic, and is inevitably in conflict with the abiding academic presumption that you never, ever tell a tenured faculty member how or with whom to publish.
The current German court case raised by law faculty at the University of Konstanz under the general heading of ‘academic freedom’ (a concept written, I think uniquely, into the German constitution) is perhaps an extreme example of this articulation.
The interest of research funders in such questions of scholarly communication is of course quite new: when I sat on relevant committees of the AHRB/AHRC at the beginning of this century, we were adamant that AHRC monies were not used for publication purposes, unless in very exceptional (technical) circumstances. We have now moved a very long way from that position, and self-evidently the recent policy impact of major funders like the Wellcome Trust, and their support for Gold Access protocols, has been very significant indeed.
What I would like to see from funders is a recognition that not all circumstances warrant the same kinds of publication outcomes, and that sometimes research purposes are best served by wholly different modes of communication (whether Open Access or otherwise), with formats that may or may not owe much to traditional processes of publication.
It’s certainly true that achieving funder compliance has become a major administrative challenge for research-intensive universities, and one where the current confused anarchy that is ‘scholarly workflow’ as a whole (notably more complex and expensive to manage than that of a print world, with far more intermediary agents, albeit permitting of a far greater variety of exploitation) presents enormous problems, of a kind I am not sure that the authors of the original BOAI ever quite anticipated.
What should researcher funders do to realise the Budapest vision? If they believe that the mode of research communication is a legitimate funder concern (a reasonable but not incontestable belief), then they need to take a much more rounded and considered approach to establishing what is the most appropriate mode of communication in the context of a given project. If ‘publication’ is to loom at all in such considerations, then it needs to loom properly.
The implications of Open Access for research libraries have always been an arena of contest (to put it mildly). Discomfort or irritation or annoyance at the ever-increasing cost of resources (and especially scientific journals) was and remains a major motor of library Open Access advocacy, whilst the future role and purpose of research libraries in a truly OA world is (as commentators like Joe Esposito have always maintained) rather uncertain.
Danny Kingsley has already responded very crisply to Richard Poynder’s original questions, and emphasised again her strong belief in the vital necessity of proper, trained professionals in ‘scholarly communications’ as central actors in the modern research library. As with publishers, the skill-sets and enthusiasm for new modes of scholarly exchange within the library sector range widely, as does the interest in undertaking (or indeed taking over) some of the functions traditionally performed by scholarly publishers and, indeed, university presses.
And, again as with publishers, the easy familiarity with complex digital workflows that modern research librarians are now perceived to need is not something that will be innate to all such employees…
It seems to me that discoverability is still, by far, the biggest issue for all research outputs, no matter howsoever made available, and personally I would regard the enhancement of that vital function, securing effective access to and discovery of existing material (whether Open or Closed) within a complex network of platforms and printed objects, as a library priority far more than the initiation of new publication programmes.
This also reminds us helpfully that perhaps the biggest single driver of Open Access in an institutional context in the first place was scale, the massive growth in research outputs of every kind (not least from emerging Asian research centres) over the past quarter-century, the perceived inability of existing systems of knowledge exchange to work effectively in this expanding world, and the perception that in the emerging digital world all could and should be very different.
But then I am looking at these issues from the perspective of a publisher, and asserting that the skill-sets of librarianship and publishing are not the same, even if there has been some (limited) congruence around some functions.
I don’t, personally, think that the cause of the BOAI has been helped, at all, by (again) some of the claims of its more passionate advocates that the skills of either the library or the publishing sectors are easily exchangeable, easily accumulated and (ultimately) easily discountable, even if both librarianship and publishing are ‘service industries’ within the scholarly project as a whole.
Going forward, both sectors will need to learn new skills, and (crucially) recruit from a greater range of knowledge cohorts than has perhaps been the case historically. Arts-dominated recruitment (driven, not least, by salary) in sectors that increasingly require quite sophisticated technical and digital skill does pose a real challenge. This is a real issue for publishers in 2018, and I suspect that it may be one for libraries too.
What should librarians do to realise the Budapest vision? Recognise and make clear their core priorities, which will not be universal across the sector, but in which discoverability is emphatically a core priority.
To what extent are publishers (like me) to blame for the current situation in scholarly communication (if blame is what is required)?
Certainly, the levels of sustained profit extracted from current models of serial publishing are excessive, and may seem intrinsic thereto, given that the percentage margins achieved by Elsevier and Springer are replicated, albeit on a tiny absolute scale, by publishers and learned societies working right across the sector.
But (and this has always seemed to me a crucial confusion) is the adoption of Open Access protocols of itself the best way to achieve a shrinking of such rates of extraction? Absolutely not, as all current evidence of the continued maintenance of historic levels of high profitability would seem to suggest.
So what Open Access is then wanted for becomes a much more complex question, in which (again) the disciplinary response will inevitably, and rightfully, differ, but then so will that of readers, researchers, librarians, HEIs, research councils and even governments, as the British experience has rather painfully shown.
My personal preference in the serials domain has always been not for OA proper but for a ‘7% journals model’, in which the various publishing parties (whether non-profit or otherwise) make a surplus of around 7% on a modified subscription model, thus maintaining the (to me) crucial mechanism of demand, and retaining that vital element of cost control, the absence of which seems the biggest long-term weakness of all author-driven supply-side publication models.
But this is I know both a minority view, and one unlikely ever to gain significant traction: that said I would suggest that its appeal within the non-profit sector, and amongst learned societies, ought to be considerable.
My other point about publishers is this. The fact that rates of extraction are in some quarters excessive does not mean that nothing of value is going on. Quite the contrary, as a cursory inspection of the author acknowledgements page of many academic books will make (at the most personal, individualised level) very clear.
One does not have to concur with every single element of Kent Anderson’s celebrated List of Things Publishers Do to recognise that, properly done, the process of publication has both dissemination and improvement as core objectives.
The latter is not, I recognise, a universally accepted attribute, but any classicist or historian in receipt of six pages of detailed textual commentary on their book script (as is often the case) will recognise the force of the latter. And these things (for which, incidentally, peer reviewers are paid – not very much, but something) have a cost, as do the processes of global dissemination and exposure, even within a purely institutional context.
Thus the much-maligned ‘publisher brands’ are actually brands for a reason, and seen as such by actors in the process, including those who don’t necessarily have the privileged access or understanding sometimes assumed in the west.
I would argue in a Mandy Rice-Davies-esque moment that there are good historic reasons (ultimately to do with very robust refereeing and publication processes, including proper copy-editing) why an OUP philosophy book or CUP classics book enjoys the status and tenure-traction that it does, and that to dismiss such estimations is to miss something that is actually very important to the dissemination and better articulation of research.
And that’s not to deny the obvious desire (and competition) for the credentialism that is so intrinsic to such brands, in both the books and serials domains, and how (hitherto anyway) other imperatives, including those of greater general access, have in general proved secondary considerations.
It has been a criticism made of publishers in the arts, humanities and less quantitative social sciences, and especially perhaps University Presses, that they are too author-centric, and not sufficiently concerned with either readers or libraries.
Certainly this author-centrism and relative lack of subject-list coherence seems one of the major obstacles confronting the current wave of new university presses and library-based publishing initiatives, often launched with REF objectives in mind: their general (although not universal) lack of capital to support the complex mechanisms of discoverability and marketing, the two imperatives that constitute far and away the biggest challenge for such imprints, seems to me a real and serious concern.
Over the past decade there has been a great deal of coverage devoted to such start-ups of various kinds, on both sides of the Atlantic, and even their most ardent supporters would have to accept that, thus far, the real impact of any has been (relative to the industrial and still-increasing scale of Anglophone monographic production) very small.
Whether, in the British context, succeeding iterations of the REF will generate major change remains to be seen. If subject panels are allowed to proceed according to the customary assessments of the subjects themselves, they probably won’t.
What should publishers do to realise the Budapest vision? Provide as flexible a range of long-form publication options, well designed, well-articulated, and well implemented for an expanding global audience, in which the twin imperatives of dissemination and improvement remain central, as is consistent with long-term financial sustainability.
Politicians and Governments
The historical parallel I have found most useful in thinking about the development of Open Access in the United Kingdom has long been the English Reformation. The parallels with the sixteenth-century transformation of an initial moment of popular insurgence into an Act of State, in which the new dispensation assumes rather different forms than those first envisaged by the original heretics, remain very striking.
And the fact that it took three centuries (at least) for the last vestiges of some of the old rites to disappear suggests that, whatever the progress and formal state acceleration of Open Access in the years to come, it will not rapidly secure the hearts and minds of those accustomed to the Old Dispensation, when (crucially) the benefits of the new still seem so nebulous.
Most importantly of all, we don’t yet know nearly enough about what Open Access ‘’impact’, howsoever measured, actually means. Professor Shearer West has wisely remarked that what matters to scholars in the fields I am describing is not necessarily a Big or Mass Audience, but the Right Audience (something emphatically endorsed by the complaints log at any major publisher: non-display at a major disciplinary conference is a far more serious author irritation in the monographic context than small numbers of sales…).
We also know (at least according to Urban Myth) that it was not the English Reformation but a subsequent deviation therefrom, in the form of Dissent, that was the impetus for initial British governmental moves in the Open Access domain: legend has it that the then Universities Minister David Willetts took a copy of Joel Mokyr’s The Enlightened Economy (Yale UP, 2010) on holiday and decided that Open Access might provide the steam of another great British economic leap forward, akin to that provided to the first industrial nation by the Dissenting Academies and other ‘outsider’ institutions of a quarter of a millennium earlier.
The authors of the Budapest Declaration might with profit consider the wise words of that great scion of a Dissenting family William Blake, written in direct contradiction of a key enlightened assumption and quoted in epigrammatic form at the outset of one of the most celebrated English historical works of the post-war period, The Making of the English Landscape by W.G. Hoskins. ‘To Generalise is to be An Idiot. To Particularize is the Alone Distinction of Merit’.
I completely accept that in publicly-funded research institutions generating (rightly or wrongly) outputs on an enormous and ever-increasing scale, some form of systematic monitoring mechanism is both inevitable and desirable.
Nonetheless, the notion that, in modes of scholarly communication, one size fits all was, and remains, the biggest single hindrance (by far) to the acceleration of Open Access, and its cheerful adoption as ‘natural’ by researchers. Without such cheerful acceptance, the project will not succeed.
What should politicians and governments do to realise the Budapest vision? The most effective answer in the British context might, in all honesty, be to disengage…more seriously there needs to be a much happier balance (at all institutional levels from HEIs upwards) between policy imperatives and their associated (expensive) instruments of compliance, the nature (and cost) of the research output, and research practice itself. Fundamentally no government can, or should, attempt to control modes or networks of scholarly communication, and a failure to comprehend the globalised nature of modern scholarly exchange remains the biggest single weakness of all politicians and policy-makers active in this domain.
PS The notion that science is bigger than scientists is not one that I necessarily accept. After all, to quote John Arlott (a resonant source this particular week) ‘the game is never bigger than the players: what could be bigger than humanity itself?’
Earlier responses to these questions from Danny Kingsley and Lisa Hinchliffe can be read here and here.
A list of some of the more interesting OA developments during 2017 is available here.