On 28 May 2016, the International Association for Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (STM) issued a response to the EU Competitiveness Council’s Conclusions on Open Science. Although welcoming the move to Open Science, STM noted its concern at a number of Conclusions which the Council has reached.
LERU’s Secretary-General, Prof Kurt Deketelaere, has already characterised, in a first reaction, the STM response as “2,5 pages of nonsense” and so they are. What the STM statement seems to object to is any change which impacts on the current role of traditional publishers. It makes unwarranted assumptions that the immediate move to 100% Open Access by 2020 must follow the Gold route and says that this is unsustainable financially. The Council Conclusions, however, do not pre-suppose that Gold is the sole route (orange is not the only fruit). However, LERU would point out that the Gold route would be more sustainable if all publishers offset the cost of Article Processing Charges (APCs) against subscription costs, thus saving money for universities. Some publishers do this, but not all do.
In terms of Green Open Access, the STM statement complains that short embargo periods are unsustainable and will wreck the current pattern of scientific publishing. This despite the fact that research funders such as RCUK (Research Councils UK) ideally stipulate an embargo period of 6 months for STEM subjects if there needs to be an embargo at all. The Council Conclusions, therefore, acknowledge what many in the community are already saying.
The STM Statement also accuses the Council of pre-empting the forthcoming Commission proposals on Text and Data Mining (TDM), and characterises the current arrangements on TDM as ‘an existing, well-functioning market for commercial TDM’, underlining the publishers’ commitment to use licences to manage the introduction of TDM services. But not all academics want to use third party TDM services and, in the era of Open Science, it is unacceptable that researchers cannot have the freedom to do this work themselves without the recourse to signing separate licences with each publisher. As LERU has long said, “The right to read is the right to mine” (cf. Murray-Rust, 2012).
In conclusion, a recent Report on Open Science says: “It may even be fair to say that we are facing the biggest challenge for RTDI [Research, Technology Development and Innovation] policy makers since the advent of the modern organization of science.” As such, we must all examine old positions on the dissemination of research outputs and have the courage to rise to the challenge which Open Science brings. The STM statement shows that traditional publishers still have a mountain to climb